Green Plan

Green Plan: Using Behavioral Change to Tackle Climate Change

Dublin, IrelandDublin
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Green Plan offers a clear, actionable methodology to reduce nonrenewable energy use thus cutting costs and creating a more sustainable local community. Starting in Kilbarrack Fire Station, which has since become the first carbon neutral station in the world, the Green Plan combines refurbishment, behavior change and procurement strategies to achieve the greatest greening impact. It has saved the Dublin Fire Brigade 5m euros in 4 years!

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

EU member states have committed to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, with Ireland boldly committing 33%. However, this ambitious commitment has been made without a financially feasible strategy. With every sector battling for funds, environmental initiatives are often not prioritized. Fire stations are particularly resource heavy - housing firemen 24 hours/day, and maintaining energy-intensive infrastructure and fleet. This excess use and waste is rarely matched with efforts to reduce emissions and refurbish the structures. Finally, the process of greening can be confusing, with information not readily available to broad communities, and no designated body educating people about how to use less and thus cut costs.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Guided by two desired outcomes - behavioral change and carbon emission reduction - GP has three distinct phases. Phase I focuses on low hanging fruit, the quick and easy wins (from LED lights to basic recycling) that produce energy and cost savings immediately. Phase II is longer and includes all additional greening initiatives e.g. sensors, solar panels, wind turbines etc. needed to fulfill the desired outcomes but that may be harder to see through. However, the support has been established and funding secured from Phase I. Phase III focuses entirely on investing the savings in innovation. Critically, the firemen, or equivalent participants, become the drivers of change and the face and voice of sustainability in their local communities.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Green Plan operates across seven themes of sustainability - Energy, Water, Waste, Biodiversity, Society, Procurement, and Transport. Let's look at the GP impact across the Energy theme. Kilbarrack Fire Station used to produce 145 tons of CO2 emissions and the gas boiler was 68% energy inefficient. A new heat management system was installed with advanced controls in tandem with two new gas condensing boilers. The result: electricity consumption reduced by 80%. An example of the impact from the water theme: Kilbarrack Fire Station used to consume 5,000 litres of water per day. A rainwater harvesting system was installed, providing the water for the fire engine and the station itself. Kilbarrack now collects 14,000 litres of water/week.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The Green Plan will continue to be implemented across the Dublin Fire Brigade, using the savings from the existing projects to fund the news ones. This has created a legacy. Additionally, there is a lot of interest from fire brigades around Ireland and abroad, EU and USA and indeed from communities/organisations from different sectors. Though originating in fire stations, the model is applicable to any institution or community. To keep up with demand, the next step is to develop an online platform enabling an initial self assessment and centralized carbon and energy measurement system, with the aim of making the Green Plan methodology accessible to any interested parties. The Green Plan methodology is a uniquely holistic approach. Ultimately, the goal is to grow the Green Plan into an international standard, embedded in public policy, business and communities around the world.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The founding sustainability principles of the Green Plan come from an International organisation, the Natural Step. Additionally, there are many organisations working on greening buildings and various other green initiatives. However, none of them have the same holistic approach to sustainability as the Green Plan, which tackles every aspect of sustainable living, not just one. It's the Green Plan's combination of its holistic approach and action that makes it unique, as it not only addresses a broad definition of sustainability, but also provides tangible tools to take action across every theme.


Buy in and belief in the positive impact and the need for the Green Plan in fire stations all over Ireland is critical to its success. Likewise for the top management of all organizations, local governments, and communities which decide to invest in the Green Plan. At the moment this is the case with the Dublin Fire Brigade partnership, which is why the Green Plan continues to expand and succeed in fire stations. The Dublin City Manager and Chief of the Fire Brigade both endorsed the model and ensured executive support throughout each organisation. Additionally, for each new project within the Dublin Fire Brigade, there is a project manager appointed to execute the project designed by Neil. The Green Plan is currently a team of two. Neil McCabe is the founder and CEO, a fireman and Ashoka Fellow. Sarah Bernstein former Venture staff at Ashoka Ireland manages Business Development.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
Dublin Fire Brigade
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Type of organization (e.g. NGO, association, not-for-profit, foundation, social enterprise)

Social enterprise

Total Number of Full-Time Employees


Lead Contact First Name


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Organization Name

Dublin Fire Brigade

Total Number of Full-Time Employees

1100 employees

Lead Contact First Name


Lead Contact Last Name



Chief Fire Officer



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Basic Info
Project Starting Year


Primary European Country where this Project is creating social impact

, DB, Dublin

Additional European countries where this Project is creating social impact

The Green Plan ethos is linked with Three EU Projects; EcoAp; FireduP; ReGreen

Select the category that best fits the type of your project:

New products & services: Entries in this category develop and offer essentials product and services that address needs currently unmet.

What awards or honors has the project received?

The International Green Awards 2011: Best Green Leader Award.The International Green Apple Awards 2011:2012:2013 Gold Award

Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

Dublin Fire Brigade
Full Public Service providing protection and sefety to the citizens of Dublin since 1863.
With a staff of 900, The Dublin Fire Brigade responds to fires and other emergencies, thereby protecting the people, industry and property of the city. The DFB also run the Dublin Ambulance service, meaning every fireman must also be trained as a paramedic.
The Dublin Fire Brigade saw a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of green innovation in Europe, boost staff morale and deliver much needed cost savings.
The Dublin Fire Brigade mobilised the staff of Kilbarrack fire station to support the first Green Plan pilot, then offered invaluable access to networks and resources to scale the Green Plan model throughout other Dublin fire stations. The Green Plan is fully absorbed into the DFB Business Plan and is now how they do business. In 2012 the Green Plan DFB Business Plan won gold at the chamber of Commerce Awards as the Best Irish Green Business Plan. The ongoing support of the Dublin Fire Brigade has also allowed Green Plan to continue to test new products and approaches to reducing emissions. Their support as co-creators has instigated a chain reaction, with Dublin City Council collaborating with us to instill the Green Plan methodology in the city's core sustainability framework, which then gave rise to large-scale EU directives. DFB Green Plan has now been heavily covered by the Irish media because for every renewable retrofit that DFB take on (using non- tax payers money) - Energy Credits are developed and the financial reward for the credits (paid by utility companies) are reinvested by DFB on Fuel Poor Citizens identified in the local community.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

€5M and counting total savings from the Green Plan in 4 years. Currently 4 fire stations in Dublin have adopted the Green Plan fully, with five more selected this year, to a budget of €8M. There are €135,000 worth of LED lights in use across the Brigade. Water consumption reduced by 3,600,000 litres p.a. reducing costs by 90%. 80% of the hot water is produced by the thermodynamic panels. 40% of all station waste is recycled. 100% of the glass, paper, plastic, tin and organic waste are recycled or composted. Previously the U Value reading for the whole Fire Station was higher than 10. Now, it's below .09 - a KwHr energy saving of over 70% and a reduction in over 170 litres of oil burned to produce heat and energy. The Green Plan's written into the DFB's Business Plan, Dublin City’s Development Plan and the yearly Dublin City Council's Business Plan. DFB has been empowered to affect change

Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]

Individuals, Businesses, Regional government, Loans.

Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

The model as it currently exists is financially sustainable in that all future projects are funded from the savings of existing projects. Additionally, the government invests in the model when interested in additional projects. The Dublin Fire Brigade is dedicated to rolling the Green Plan out through their fire stations and review the allocated funds for the Green Plan's growth annually. However, to grow the model to the next stage will require initial investment to build the online platform and new measurement technology. We are in the process of raising funds for this.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

Kilbarrack was in major need of a makeover, 20 years overdue, and was rapidly losing its crew members to a new station up the road. Not wanting to see his Brigade fall apart, Neil began thinking about ways to raise money to spend on refurbishment. He realised that fire stations have profound potential for greening. He started small, asking the firemen to hand in their old walkie-talkie batteries to recycle. Then he moved a small step further, asking the fire men to take the plastic and glass waste from the station home to add to their personal weekly recycling collection. As the firemen became more invested, Neil developed a plan to overhaul every last part of Kilbarrack. With no clear funding source, Neil went to his fellow fireman, asking for an informal crowd-funded investment of €14,000. A testament to the confidence Neil instilled in his peers, he secured the funding.

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

Initially, Neil had to prove that the model was viable and a worthwhile investment before the Dublin Fire Brigade would commit to implementing it throughout the county. In addition to senior staff, Neil also had to make a strong case to his fellow firemen that sustainability in their fire station was worth their time and, in the case of Kilbarrack, their money. A final barrier was time. Working full time as a fireman and also managing the implementation of the Green Plan amounts to two full time jobs. The Dublin Fire Brigade have encouraged Neil to find a balance between the two, wanting him to have enough time to dedicate to the Green Plan.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

The Green Plan operates with the Dublin Fire Brigade as a joint project. Once proven to be such an effective and cost saving model, the Dublin Fire Brigade has done everything they can to help the growth of the Green Plan to other fire stations. Additionally, they have embraced the new role of fire fighters as sustainability educators, in local communities and schools. Neil has been given plenty of space to trial new products and start new initiatives, which is a testament to the trust and respect the Fire Brigade has for him, as well as their belief in the value the GP brings to the brigade.

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

The Brigade is now held up as a leading example of sustainability and energy efficiency across Europe. Having the fire brigade sitting at the table at the EU level to discuss climate change is a ground breaking indication of a new vision adopted by the organisation. Similarly, by participating in the Green Plan, all of the firemen have re-framed their role in society. Learning about best practice in everything from water reuse to local procurement to solar energy, they are now the face of sustainability in local communities and schools, leading discussions about the environment and executing green refurbishments in local neighborhoods. Additionally, Neil's intrapreneurship has broken down the traditional organisational structure and inspired management to create the enabling environment for staff at all levels to be changemakers.

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