At one end of the spectrum are Clerkenwell’s 123-year old fire station and a host of other old, listed stations. At the other is a new station that opened at Harold Hill in Romford in February with CHP, solar hot water and PV systems, motion-sensitive lighting and a rainwater harvesting system.
A good showing in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme is important for an organisation under the control - and carbon targets - of the Mayor of London’s office, says LFB’s environment and energy manager Ian Shaw. But its early efforts mean the organisation will have its work cut out once the benefits that early actors gain in the first few years of the CRC fade away.
"One of our worries about the CRC is that we’ve done so much already," says Mr Shaw. "We’ve been trying to explain it to the directors. To start with, we’ll do very well but then we’ll slip down the league table as people overtake us."
After that, however - once the playing field is more level - he hopes the brigade’s head-start will give it back its advantage.
LFB was accredited under the Carbon Trust’s Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme, the predecessor to the Carbon Trust Standard, in 2007. It was then one of the first 12 organisations to obtain the standard in 2008.
The process was not without its headaches: at one point it looked, from LFB’s fuel bills, as if its emissions had doubled over a year. In fact, it was simply that it had bought some new fuel tanks and filled them, says Mr Shaw.
But this early work has kept the extra preparations needed for the CRC to a minimum.
Mr Shaw has discussed the scheme with his finance department and directors. Finance was happier once it realised the scale of the likely outlay and that most of the revenue will be returned within one financial year, he says.
The £180,000 needed to cover the annual allowance bill for the 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions falling under the CRC will come from the energy budget. But Mr Shaw has asked for additional resources to help meet the scheme’s administrative demands. This money could be spent on personnel, software or a consultant.
He has to give up a small percentage of any money saved from the energy budget through efficiency improvements each year. But he is lucky - and perhaps unusual - in that the rest of the savings can be reinvested in further efficiency measures.
The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority has just passed his plans for the next five years. These will focus on expanding the number of stations with display energy certificates (DECs) from 64 and getting G-rated stations, of which there are currently 4, to a higher rating. In some ways, the DECs are more of a driver than the complexities of the CRC, says Mr Shaw. "They are more in your face".
Lighting accounts for 65-70% of electricity use in most stations, making more intelligent systems an easy win. "I think of fire stations as big houses with big garages," says Mr Shaw. There might need to be enough hot water to allow a whole brigade to shower after being called out, but otherwise the gas use is similar to that of a house with 65% consumed by heating systems and 5% for cooking.
AMR meters are installed on the electricity systems across all LFB’s stations, in its headquarters and in the additional offices it rents. They should cover 70% of gas supplies by April and 100% by the end of the CRC’s first year.