Union Pacific's Planet Tracks Group Hosts First-Ever Employee Sustainability Symposium

IT Planet Tracks’ 2023 symposium planning committee | LR

Planet Tracks’ 2023 symposium planning committee included, from left: Sarah Mueller, senior manager-Vegetation; Greg Lanning, general director-Strategic Sourcing; Scott Wheeler, senior manager-Environmental; Nathaniel Skelton, associate senior app developer; Caitie Bundy, manager-Corporate Sustainability; Roxanne Smith, manager-Environmental Services and Projects; Courtney Scott, manager, Marketing and Sales; Brian Seward, manager-Short Line Development; and Planet Tracks President Craig Ingrisano, director, Labor Relations. Not pictured: Jacob Mendoza, analyst-Workforce Shared Services, and Madalyn Schuster, manager-Labor Relations.

Union Pacific Railroad’s business resource group, Planet Tracks, held its first-ever employee sustainability symposium focused on the initiatives, technology and outreach efforts the railroad is leveraging to build a more sustainable future.

“Railroads are the original sustainable transportation solution,” said Maqui Parkerson, vice president, Labor Relations, and Planet Tracks’ executive sponsor. “Union Pacific has been around for 160 years and will be for many more – we need to continue highlighting rail’s sustainable advantages.”

Founded in 2021, Planet Tracks is the first-of-its-kind business resource group established at a Class I railroad. Its members champion environmental stewardship and sustainability initiatives across the railroad’s 23-state system – and at home – through educational opportunities and outreach projects.

“Climate change continues to have a very real impact on our operations – from floods and winter storms to extreme heat,” Parkerson said. “We started Planet Tracks to make sustainability tangible for our employees, helping them connect big events they see to individual actions they can take.”

Union Pacific’s commitment to mitigating the impacts of climate change is underscored by its science-based target to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and GHG emissions on a well-to-wheel basis from locomotive operations 26% by 2030 from a 2018 base year.

“We’re making real progress – we’ve achieved a 20% absolute scope 1 emissions reduction since 2018,” said Thad Call, general director-Sustainability. “Sustainability is about shaping our own future in this space, and as employees, we’re the engine that makes Union Pacific run.”

The sustainability advantages of shipping by rail are real – Union Pacific can move a ton of freight 463 miles on a single gallon of fuel. As more customers set science-based targets and focus on reducing their environmental footprints, Union Pacific is positioned to provide lower carbon transportation solutions helping them reach their targets. For example, converting traffic to rail from truck offers customers an immediate reduction in Scope 3 GHG emissions.

These advantages – and the progress Union Pacific is making toward its Climate Action Plan – were among the variety of topics discussed during the full-day symposium. Attendees learned about how the railroad is exploring emerging markets such as carbon capture and storage, and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF); how it’s testing alternative fuel blends and battery-electric locomotives; and the steps employees are taking at home to ‘green’ up their daily lives through native gardens and alternative transportation.

IT Planet Tracks Lauritzen Gardens Symposium | LR

Union Pacific employees gather at Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens to hear internal subject matter experts discuss the railroad’s sustainability initiatives.

Share This!

Latest Stories