A healthy environment is an essential foundation for a strong country—and a vibrant economy. Union Pacific’s vision of Building America involves protecting and strengthening this foundation.
Railroads are one of the most fuel efficient means of transportation, and on average, Union Pacific moves a ton of freight 465 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel. Moving freight on trains also reduces traffic gridlock on America’s overtaxed highways and carbon emissions from idling vehicles.
While Union Pacific moves freight in an environmentally responsible way, it realizes the importance of not being complacent about its own operational impact. As the world seeks to improve sustainability, Union Pacific is doing its part to reduce its carbon footprint, finding ways to conserve fuel, water and energy.
In 2017, Union Pacific’s utility conservation projects reduced energy consumption by 3.8 million kWh, enough to annually power more than 400 U.S. homes. Many projects were employee-driven solutions, such as locating leaks in underground air compressor lines, installing automatic control devices on locomotive part washers and testing new solar yard lighting. These solutions also provide guidance for future initiatives.
An effort to replace outdated and inefficient air compressors is responsible for roughly half of Union Pacific’s 2017 energy consumption savings. Compressors represent about 20 percent of the company’s electricity usage. They support critical functions, including yard and single-car air brake tests, and operating maintenance tools, locomotive sanding systems and wastewater treatment pumps.
A cross-functional team developed the compressor system currently being installed, which is between 30 and 90 percent more energy efficient. The percent varies depending on the age and length of underground pipes, as well as whether the original system was the right size for the facility. New compressors require less maintenance, while increasing equipment life and eliminating downtime during repairs. They can be relocated to support operational changes.
Union Pacific installed 10 of these systems last year, resulting in increased efficiency and reliability for its customers. New units continue to be installed this year.
One of the new air compressors in Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska.
Union Pacific’s goal is to be a leader in moving goods in an environmentally responsible manner, positively impacting its employees, communities, customers and shareholders. Reducing energy consumption is just one way the company is investing in conservation. This year, Union Pacific also is testing and growing its switching fleet with low power and low emission locomotives and exploring ways to eliminate unnecessary water use, as well as identifying ways to conserve.