Community and Collaboration
Communicating with our stakeholders is important and we consider the needs, opinions and ideas of various groups that are affected by our business.
Providing excellent customer service requires that we first understand the needs of our customers. In addition to helping our customers take advantage of rail’s four-to-one fuel-efficiency advantage over motor carriers, we also collaborate with them on service parameters to optimize the efficiency of each shipment. This includes minimizing empty rail car returns, matching facility requirements to a customer's service plan, and designing efficient car loading plans. These steps avoid wasted resources, while allowing Union Pacific to provide service tailored to the customer's specifications.
Union Pacific also helps customers expand into new markets. One visible area where that happens is in the transportation of components for renewable energy providers. We were the first railroad to offer door-to-door transportation for the wind turbine manufacturing industry, and we continue to play an important role in supporting renewable energy by providing the wind energy industry with safe and sustainable transportation. Union Pacific began shipping wind turbine components in 2003. In 2007, responding to growing interest in wind power technology, we joined the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Many of the more than 7,000 communities throughout our system can trace their origins directly to a Union Pacific depot. Union Pacific actively works to bring environmental awareness to those communities. Each spring, the company hosts several dozen community events as part of our Earth Day celebration. Whether it’s a park beautification effort, a roadside cleanup through towns we serve, tree plantings or education in schools, our employees take pride in working with their communities on environmental efforts.
Union Pacific also partners with local, state, and federal first responders and emergency management organizations to help minimize the local impact of a derailment. This includes training local, state, and federal first responders to improve emergency responder awareness of hazardous materials transportation throughout the country.
California Air Resources Board
Union Pacific has worked with the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to reduce emissions and improve California air quality since the mid-1990s.
Efforts began with a first-of-its-kind commitment in 1998 to bring the then-most advanced and environmentally friendly locomotive technology to the South Coast Air Basin by 2010 and continuing through 2020. According to ARB, this effort would reduce locomotive NOx emissions in the South Coast Air Basin by 65 percent in 2010 compared to 1998 levels. We submitted and subsequently received ARB’s approval that UP met the 1998 Agreement requirements for 2010 and 2011.
One Union Pacific double-stack train can take up to 300 trucks off America's congested highways.
In 1999, Union Pacific began working with ARB to develop detailed emissions inventory and dispersion modeling data from its J R Davis Yard in Roseville, CA. ARB utilized that emissions data to produce its first comprehensive Health Risk Assessment (HRA) of a rail yard in 2004. Given the beneficial information obtained from the 5 year evaluation, an agreement with the Placer County Air Pollution Control District to further reduce emissions from the Davis Yard was signed in early 2005. UP fully complied with that agreement by 2008.
Based on the initial successes of the programs at Roseville, ARB then brought the two California Class I railroads - Union Pacific and BNSF Railway - together to sign a second emissions reductions agreement in 2005 called the ‘ARB/Railroad State-wide Agreement, Particulate Emissions Redution Program at California Rail Yards’. That agreement, effective through 2015, is projected to reduce diesel particulate matter (DPM) by approximately 20 percent statewide and contains provisions for the railroads to:
- Install idle control devices on intrastate locomotives;
- Perform locomotive exhaust opacity inspections;
- Maximize the use of Ultra Low Sulfur diesel fuel;
- Investigate locomotive performance and the feasibility of incorporating emerging technologies;
- Complete detailed emissions inventories and dispersion modeling for 17 rail yards that would enable ARB to prepare HRAs;
- Work with local stakeholders to evaluate emission reduction technology.
Union Pacific continues to submit annual reports that demonstrate compliance with all provisions of the 2005 agreement and work with ARB to seek additional emissions reductions in areas where they are needed the most.
Union Pacific participates in the SmartWaySM Transport Partnership, a voluntary collaboration between the U.S. EPA and the freight industry to increase energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.
SmartWay Transport Partners lead the way toward cleaner, more efficient transportation by adopting fuel-saving strategies. SmartWay Transport Partners are commercial, industrial and public sector organizations that commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and to improve fuel efficiency of ground freight transportation. The EPA provides partners with benefits and services that include fleet management tools, technical support, information, public recognition, and, for exceptional environmental performers, use of the SmartWay Transport Partner logo.
Hazardous Materials Transport
Railroads are the safest way to transport hazardous material, and the federal government requires railroad companies such as Union Pacific to use our locomotives and railroads to transport tank cars containing hazardous materials.
Ensuring that that these tank cars arrive safely is a top priority. Even though the tank cars are not owned by Union Pacific, we do everything we can to secure cars that carry hazardous materials.
In addition to complying with regulations for the transportation of hazardous materials, Union Pacific takes voluntary measures to minimize the risk of hazardous material release. Every year, we inspect more than 5,000 of our customers’ tank cars to ensure security and safety. We recognize customer accomplishments in minimizing the risk of releases in their tank cars. Together, The Dow Chemical Company and Union Pacific are working to enhance chemical transportation over the more than 160,000 miles of rail in the United States through a variety of innovative solutions and public-private partnerships. Union Pacific conducts emergency-response training to minimize the impact of a derailment on a community; in a typical year, our training reaches about 10,000 people.
UP has a nationwide 24-hour emergency hotline to report hazardous materials releases and other environmental incidents. Calls go to Union Pacific's Response Management Communication Center (RMCC), which immediately takes action based on the nature of the call. Additionally, UP has installed emergency notification signs at thousands of rail crossings. Each sign carries a unique Department of Transportation number that enables RMCC to identify the exact location and take action.
You'll find more information on our site under Chemical Transportation Safety and Responsible Care.
GEMI and Other Organizations
In 2010, Union Pacific joined the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), a coalition of companies dedicated to strengthening their sustainability by sharing tools, information and best practices. Union Pacific’s collaboration with other GEMI members brings benefits from learning about the strongest programs and practices; Union Pacific also brings its insights to GEMI partners. GEMI provides a way for companies in a wide range of industrial sectors to collaborate on strategic and tactical issues impacting progressive corporate environmental, health and safety activities in locations around the world.
Union Pacific is a member of the California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance, a coalition of business, labor and public leaders that advances strategies for a sound economy and a healthy environment.
Our Sustainabilty & Citizenship Report outlines other organizations where Union Pacific is a member.
EDF Climate Corps
To enhance our energy efficiency efforts, Union Pacific has joined with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to participate in the Climate Corps Program since 2011. EDF matches companies with qualified students from leading business schools for a summer fellowship focused exclusively on energy initiatives.
With EDF’s training and consulting support, Union Pacific provided the resources to explore the company utility consumption patterns. The company’s fellows, MBA students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management and an MS in Sustainability student from Columbia University, identified energy-reduction opportunities in yards, shops and offices.
As a result of the Climate Corps efforts, Union Pacific has added a position focused on energy management, pursued projects to reduce energy consumption from compressors, and implemented next-generation lighting changes.
Our employees are the reason Union Pacific can stand behind our promise of “Building America.” After more than 150 years, they continue to be our most valuable asset and play a critical role in ensuring the company’s protection of the environment.
Union Pacific’s employee environmental stewardship program carries the theme “Caring for the Environment: My Company, My Work, My Life.” The program provides training and tools to apply stewardship on the job and at home. The initiative includes regular communication, a website with data and educational materials and an easy way to share suggestions and success stories.
At the heart of the program is ensuring employees know their ideas are valued. Employees have submitted more than 2,000 suggestions as part of the program. The company follows each suggestion to completion. About 40 percent of the suggestions have resulted in changes, including waste reduction initiatives, new recycling capabilities and greater education across the employee base.