Canadian National Railway


Vancouver, BC

Every year, CN transports 300 million tonnes of natural resources, manufactured products, and finished goods through a network of 30,000 km of rail across North America. It’s one of the largest transportation and logistics companies in the world, with $14.5 billion in revenues in 2021. With such a large-scale infrastructure, monitoring energy consumption in real-time for multiple facilities was a challenge beyond CN’s Energy Management Team’s capacity.

To help solve this challenge, CN approached Prism Engineering to help them improve access to data. This included providing staff with the necessary tools to identify energy gaps and track equipment and building performance, enabling the team to make decisions to reduce waste. Additionally, this helped raise energy conservation awareness throughout the organization.

The challenge

For years, CN’s Energy Management team used PC-based Energy Management Information System (EMIS) software on 21 major sites in North America, with a total monitored electrical load of 30 MW. On any given day, this existing system would generate around 400,000 new data points.  Converting this huge amount of data into meaningful information was extremely challenging and limited by the existing system.

In addition to the complexity of the previous system, which led to limited adoption, there were six years of historical energy consumption logs, leaving a vast volume of data underutilized by the organization. It became clear that CN needed an easy-to-use web based EMIS tool that could provide data in real-time so that the staff could effectively monitor energy performance.

The solution

After holding a series of workshops and feedback sessions with facility managers, equipment owners, and energy consultants, Prism Engineering helped CN’s Energy Management Team create a modern and easy-to-access web based dashboard.  Prism supported CN’s EMIS in-house lead with training, methodologies for setting baselines, and ideas for analytics.

The new EMIS system had to be user-friendly. That’s why a feedback-based approach was crucial for its completion. Now, the tool offers improved functionality, with the capability to display real-time data as well as historical time-series charts. It empowers the team to independently identify abnormalities in energy performance and act upon them as soon as they occur.

Above, the interface of the old system (left) evolved to a web-based dashboard.


With the new dashboard design, CN’s staff can now:

  • Monitor energy consumption by sub-metered building/equipment
  • Follow real-time demand graph on abnormalities in energy consumption
  • Make comparisons of current monthly consumption to previous periods
  • Estimate energy savings
  • Identify monthly energy costs

The results

Since the adoption of the new EMIS system, CN has seen a significant uptake in staff using the tool and an increase in the identification of energy savings opportunities. It has also allowed the company to expand the system’s reach and to make the data available to different departments.

Some of the results of the implementation of the new EMIS system include:

  • 3x increase in user traffic to dashboards, with sharing features and dedicated screens in office areas.
  • 28% reduction in compressed air energy consumption after the identification of issues with these systems.
  • Broader reach since staff can now monitor the company’s 60 largest energy-consuming buildings.
  • New energy champions in different departments now that more staff have access to the system.

Read here the full project (PDF)

Related Services

Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS)
SEM Programs
Coaching for Energy Managers
Sustainability Engagement