The Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced that Norfolk Southern’s Andrew Paul has been awarded the 2017 John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award. Named in honor of the late Rhode Island senator, a strong advocate for green causes and the ecofriendly benefits of rail transportation, the annual award recognizes a railroad employee who has demonstrated the highest level of environmental stewardship in the previous year.
“As an industry that is grounded in a deep sense of responsibility to our communities, the freight rail industry is committed to creating a legacy of sustainability for future generations,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “No mode of ground transportation surpasses freight rail when it comes to delivering for our customers and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Andrew Paul’s work at Norfolk Southern has transformed how his railroad thinks about capital building projects to focus on energy solutions that are environmentally responsible.”
After 30 years serving in the Navy, Andrew Paul took the lead of Norfolk Southern’s energy services program as Senior Manager of Energy and Facility Services. In just 5 years, he has outfitted more than 100 shops, yards, and offices with longer-lasting, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems. These investments have generated a savings of $4.9 million in annual energy and maintenance costs and reduced emissions by nearly 36,000 metric tons – equal to removing 7,500 passenger vehicles from the road.
Paul has also helped local supervisors better understand how energy is being used across the railroad through an energy audit program that helps identify ways to save money and reduce environmental impacts. In his most ambitious project, Paul is leading the way on a three-year, $53 million energy conversion project of Norfolk Southern’s largest locomotive shop, which is scheduled for completion later this year.
In addition to Paul, five other railroaders were nominated for the 2017 John H. Chafee Award. Below are brief descriptions of the other nominees.
Jesse Contreras – BNSF
In his role as General Foreman, Jesse Contreras has demonstrated a strong commitment to increasing environmental awareness and establishing best practices for his colleagues at the Barstow Mechanical Shop. Contreras oversees all daily inspections as well as leads the Environmental Best Way initiative. Among his successes during his nine years with BNSF, Contreras led an initiative to install new, energy-efficient lanterns, which resulted in $32,000 in annual savings. Contreras is also actively involved in California’s emissions reduction plan.
Milton Dempsey – Union Pacific
Milton Dempsey is often described by his colleagues as “the guy who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.” During his 14 years of service to Union Pacific, he has developed an ability to identify potential issues and address them before they become problems. In 2016, a derailment created a puncture in a car capable of carrying 23,000 gallons of lube oil near storm drains leading to a river. Dempsey identified that the risk for soil and water contamination was high and took quick action to dam and dike the drains, a critical step to mitigate the incident and prevent product from reaching the river.
David Nechvatal – CSX
As an Industrial Engineer for CSX, David Nechvatal has focused on process improvements in locomotive and rail car maintenance and fueling. In October 2015, Nechvatal led a Fuel and Retention Tank Spill Prevention team that reviewed and updated all fueling and retention tank procedures leading to a 39 percent reduction in gallons spilled in 2016 compared to the prior year and approximately $360,000 savings in tank spill remediation. Nechvatal also managed an initiative to upgrade Nozzle Pressure control systems, which had led to fuel releases at several locations. After his initial recommendations proved successful, he is now working to deploy this upgrade at additional locations.
Michael T.J. Singelyn – Canadian National
Michael Singelyn is a third-generation railroader, who has risen through the ranks since joining Canadian National in 1998. Back in 2003, Singelyn took ownership of the railroad's scrap tie program, which under his leadership has diverted 95 percent of rail ties – more than 20 million – from the landfill. He also was instrumental to Canadian National’s Shoreline subdivision cleanup, which helped end a decades long legacy of waste and illegal dumping.
John Tull – Amtrak
John Tull has led high-impact energy projects that have paid for themselves in under three years. Over his tenure at Amtrak, he has reduced the railroad’s emissions by more than 10 million metric tons of carbon or the equivalent of taking 2,135 cars off the road. Those projects also resulted in tens of millions of dollars in savings for the company. In his own time, he and his wife constructed a green roof on his house in downtown Philadelphia.