Context

The GreenPlan© began in Kilbarrack Fire Station in 2008, prompted by the need to improve firefighter motivation. Built in the early seventies Kilbarrack is a 2 storey station manned by 40 full-time personnel. Morale fell when many of the staff moved to a new station in Swords. The remaining staff set up a new Sports and Social Committee which became a medium to deliver positive change, facilitating team building exercises to boost staff spirit. The crew started recycling batteries simply to reduce the waste produced by the station and as they became more galvanised, this expanded to other small changes. Soon staff were recycling waste on their own time following work shifts as part of a new drive for shared responsibility for the waste they created. 

During this time, Neil McCabe invented The GreenPlan© and its Seven Themes - TGP7© as a certification program. He spearheaded its development and implementation within the 150-year-old organisation, while working as a Fireman full-time. He created this model to be a holistic, hands-on carbon reduction and behavioural change process designed across three phases. 

What was done

Over the next two years an Air Source Heat Pump, Micro Urban Wind Turbines, a major insulation project, a new roof and an underground waste water treatment plant were appointed. The Fire Station was retrofitted using sustainable materials, a complete rainwater harvesting system and a new heat management system with advanced controllers and two new gas condensing boilers were installed as well. The many technologies trialled and implemented took the Station from a U Value higher than 10 to a new reading of 1.1; eradicating sick building syndrome. 

Neil introduced a Biodiversity Action Plan, now in use across all of Dublin Fire Brigade, on the Station’s grounds. Four areas of neglect were converted to new gardens with underground eco systems and an allotment. They piloted blended biodiesel from used cooking oil in the Stations front line emergency vehicles, to reduce reliance on standard fossil fuel. 

Outcome

  • The Station has reduced its energy consumption by 90%, water intake by 92%, Gas consumption by 97%. 
  • 70% of Station waste is recycled and 100% organic waste is composted. 
  • It has reduced its annual running costs by €48,000. 
  • 35% of the Stations Crew now cycle to work rather than drive. 
  • They have reduced carbon emissions by 145 tonnes each year. 
  • Applying The GreenPlan© model more widely across its estate, Dublin Fire Brigade has saved over €11m in operation and procurement costs and reduced its energy spend by 44% as of Oct 2014.