Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Norfolk Southern measures its carbon footprint

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Norfolk Southern’s second annual sustainability report includes the company's first calculation of its carbon footprint, a measure of greenhouse gases produced by business operations. It turns out to be "less than one tenth of one 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."

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"The largest single component, about 90%, is carbon dioxide emissions from diesel-burning locomotives," noted NS as it released the report Tuesday. "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."

"This is an important indicator that establishes a baseline for future improvement," said CEO Wick Moorman in a letter introducing the 62-page report, posted on the company's Web site at www.nscorp.com/footprints. "The 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% over the past year and 10% over the last decade. The report notes that the greenhouse gas emission ofone Norfolk Southern locomotive per revenue ton-mile "is about one ounce, which is equivalent to the weight of a slice of bread."