Norfolk Southern’s Sustainability Report Highlights Carbon Footprint, Improved Fuel Economy

NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Southern Corp. has issued its second annual sustainability report, including the company’s first-ever calculation of its carbon footprint and highlighting achievements in responsible economic, environmental and social performance.

“We have made good progress,” notes CEO Wick Moorman in a letter introducing the 62-page report.

Norfolk Southern’s carbon footprint is a measurement of greenhouse gases produced by the company’s business operations. The largest single component, about 90 percent, is carbon dioxide emissions from diesel-burning locomotives.

Other sources include emissions from production of electricity for rail facilities and fuel consumption by everything from company vehicles to boilers. Putting it all together, Norfolk Southern’s carbon footprint for 2008 is calculated at 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. Put in perspective, it is less than one tenth of 1 percent of the 7.2 billion total emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents in the entire United States for 2007, the latest year for which data is available.

“This is an important indicator,” Moorman wrote in his letter, “that establishes a baseline for future improvement. Disclosure also demonstrates to our customers, communities, employees, and investors the seriousness of our intent to be good environmental stewards.”

Since issuing the company’s first sustainability report last year, Moorman said, “We have continued efforts on several fronts to increase our fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse emissions.” For example, locomotive fuel economy has improved almost 3 percent over the past year and 10 percent over the last decade. The report notes that the greenhouse gas emission of one Norfolk Southern locomotive per revenue ton-mile is about one ounce, which is equivalent to the weight of a slice of bread.