Merseyside Fire and Rescue Services
A programme to overhaul Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s 31 fire stations and support buildings with a low carbon retrofit produced dramatic cuts in CO2 emissions and costs, and has some key lessons. Andy Pearson reports
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) has carried out a low carbon retrofit of its 31 fire stations and support buildings across the county, as well as replacing many of its vehicles. Over the past five years the service has spent £480,000 on the programme which has resulted in a saving of £117,000 in gas and electricity a year, and corresponding CO2 emissions savings of 23%, based on a 2007 baseline.
MFRS’s carbon emissions were growing at a rate of 0.7% year-on-year. In 2008, the organisation partnered with the Carbon Trust on a programme to realise carbon and cost savings.
Building energy use accounts for the vast majority of baseline emissions. Building stock includes fire stations, which vary in size from 1-2 appliance sites to larger 3-4 appliance sites, a workshop, the headquarters, a training and development academy and the mobilising and communications centre, which accepts and processes emergency calls. The building stock is a mixture of ages and styles dating from the 1940s to present day.
Under the plan electricity usage is targeted at all sites. MF&RS is part of a consortium, managed through Liverpool City Council, which obtains its electricity from renewable sources. For the purposes of carbon emissions, however, green electricity does not count as zero emissions, unless generated on site, so there is still a requirement to reduce energy consumption in order to reduce emissions.
The plan also tackled business travel, water usage and waste. However, employee commuting was excluded from the initiative, along with training and fire-fighting water usage.
The works were carried out using funds from the SALIX Local Authority Environmental Fund through the Carbon Trust. Under the scheme the funds are repaid over a period of up to five years using the savings made from the service’s energy bill.
To date MFRS has spent £480,000 on retrofitting its entire building stock. This involved five main areas of work:
- The installation of a Trend building management system in all stations to enable the heating to be remotely controlled.
- Improvements to heating and hot water systems through the installation of burner controls, thermostatic radiator valves, high efficiency condensing boilers and direct gas-fired water heaters. Separating the central heating and hot water systems meant heating can be switched off for 3-4 months over the summer.
- Lofts and pipelines were insulated.
- Energy efficient lighting replaced the internal and external halogen lights.
- Voltage optimisation units were fitted to reduce the voltage supplied to half the building stock; these reduce the supply voltage from 240V to 230V or 220V to enable the electrical equipment to run more efficiently, giving 10% electricity savings.
The refurbishment also improved the usability of the buildings for deployment, staff and community users. The works included refurbished washing facilities, re-modelled study rooms, replacement flooring and new appliance bay doors.
“Gas and diesel have shown the greatest reduction as a result of the SALIX funded improvement projects,” explains Simon Mansfield, energy and environmental manager at MFRS. Gas savings came primarily through new boilers, controls, BMS and insulation; diesel savings resulted primarily from increased frequency of vehicle replacement and through reductions in appliance numbers driven by government funding cuts.
Electricity usage has increased, despite a large programme installing voltage reduction equipment. According to Mansfield this is also due to older fire stations being replaced by new PFI stations with electrically driven air source heat pump technology. “When the data is modelled for the last year as if the new stations were being heated by conventional gas boilers an electricity use reduction can be seen,” he explains.
The cost and savings from the SALIX funded projects are summarised below:
- Building management system: project cost £94,134; annual cost savings, £30,460; annual CO2 savings 152 tonnes
- Heating system improvements: project cost, £80,806; annual cost savings, £16,365; annual CO2 savings, 114 tonnes
- Insulation, project cost: £32,055; annual cost savings, £8,737; annual CO2 savings, 43 tonnes
- Lighting improvements: project cost, £10,842; annual cost savings, £2184; annual CO2 savings, 16 tonnes
- Toxteth multi-project site (including improvements to lighting, heating, insulation, sensors and controls): project cost, £125,359; annual cost savings, £25,072; annual CO2 savings, 113 tonnes
- Voltage reduction: project cost, £137,382; annual cost savings, £34,373; annual CO2 savings, 143 tonnes
- Total: £480,578; annual cost savings, £117,192; annual CO2 savings, 580 tonnes.
“Our carbon management programme has been extremely successful not only in reducing our carbon footprint, energy and maintenance costs, but also in making our building stock more user friendly, safer, comfortable and easier to run,” said Mansfield.
He says the lessons learnt from this project will be incorporated into a new five-year carbon saving strategy. Learning points include:
- Voltage reduction technology is not always suitable for installation in modern buildings because voltage optimisation is less effective with modern lighting.
- Considerable time is needed to select the right products and the right contractors if we are to comply with public sector financial regulations.
- A cultural push is still needed to prevent internal temperatures being set too high; this will be progressed by setting temperature standards via regional energy policy.
In addition to the MF&RS team, contractors involved in the project include:
Power Perfector for voltage reduction equipment installation: Barlows (UK)
Electrical and controls contractor: Leymac
Insulation installer: Local Solutions
Insulation: Kimpton Building Services
Toxteth FireFit Hub Construction: Wates
Simon Mansfield, energy and environment manager at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service will be speaking at the Retrofit North West Roadshow taking place at the ACC, Liverpool on 3 September 2013. For further information click here.