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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Red and Blue and Green All Over: A Triangle Region Sustainable Emergency Services Program to Reduce GHG Emissions

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Cary, North Carolina

Federal Funding: $496,000
Project Timeline: February 2011 – January 2015

Latest Update

The Town of Cary continues to oversee sustainability initiatives in Cary’s fire stations. A contractor, Southern Energy Management, completed retrofits on the six existing fire station buildings and is currently evaluating their results. In June 2013, the Town held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its Climate Showcase Fire Station, with over 150 people in attendance. The fire station includes solar thermal hot water heating and a solar photovoltaic array. Additionally, the Town’s Fire Department has developed a no-idling policy for its vehicles and sponsored an inter-station energy challenge from August to December 2012. The overall results showed the winning fire station to have reduced its energy use by 15 percent over the last year. In addition, the Sustainable Fleet Team has drafted a fleet efficiency policy. The Town of Cary had an intern summarize and analyze fire station energy performance data from Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Charlotte, and the analysis was presented at the August 2012 International Association of Fire Chiefs conference in Denver, Colorado. Finally, the Town launched the Chief’s Energy Challenge, which has eight communities signed up for the challenge. Future activities include implementing the Chief’s Energy Challenge, working on a teen outreach component of the program, releasing a sustainability smartphone app, and continuing progress on all sustainability initiatives.


Photo of Cary fire station groundbreaking.

Fire Station 8 Groundbreaking

The site of the new fire station. A "green" project that will be built with sustainability in mind.

Drawing of new Cary fire station.

Drawing of Fire Station 8

First town project that will demonstrate multiple environmental mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the Public Safety departments.

Project Summary

Regional Program to Promote Sustainable Police and Fire Departments

The Town of Cary has launched a first-of-its kind project to reduce the environmental impacts of fire and police departments. With this project, Cary hopes to spark cost-saving GHG reductions in local fire and police departments while inspiring departments around North Carolina and the rest of the country to do so as well. Cary is partnering with the City of Raleigh, the City of Durham, and the City of Chapel Hill to implement sustainable practices in local fire and police departments. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing energy consumption will help fire and police services to meet increasingly tight budget constraints, save jobs, and improve services. The town of Cary will achieve these reductions by:

  • creating a Climate Showcase Fire Station,
  • developing a suite of police- and fire-specific sustainability projects, and,
  • issuing the Chief’s Energy Challenge to encourage fire chiefs around the country to implement similar improvements.

The Town of Cary has built a Climate Showcase Fire Station, which is the town's first municipal building to use green building principles. The fire station is adjacent to a community center, elementary school, and middle school, which facilitates community interest in station tours and outreach activities at the fire station. The Climate Showcase Fire Station includes a rooftop solar photovoltaic installation, preferred parking for efficient vehicles, bicycle storage, reclaimed water usage, recycling and composting, low-emitting building materials, an efficient HVAC system and building envelope, enhanced ventilation systems, and extensive use of daylighting. The station is available for public tours, and a detailed case study of the project will be conducted to support replicability.

The town of Cary is also implementing a suite of measures to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy consumption in fire stations in the region. These measures include station energy retrofits, culture-sensitive environmental coaching, a hybrid vehicle procurement policy, and an alternative fuel working group. Throughout the process, the town is collecting baseline data on fire and police station energy use in order to track sustainability efforts and facilitate the sharing of best practices. Finally, fire chiefs in the Triangle region will issue the Chief’s Energy Challenge to other departments and stations in the state, region, and nation. The program will include a quantifiable greenhouse gas emission reduction pledge and list of commitments, as well as a toolkit for other interested chiefs that includes a detailed case study of the Cary Climate Showcase Fire Station and other recommendations based on the experiences of the Triangle region.

Altogether, the project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Cary and beyond by 240 metric tons CO2e annually, while setting an example of leadership in climate action from respected emergency services departments.

Community Characteristics

Population 112,700
Area 42 square miles
Government Type Township
Community Type Suburban
Median Household Income $72,554

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of June 2013) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 187 mt CO2e 240 mt CO2e
Annual Cost Savings $0 $23,398
Annual Electricity Savings 0 MWh 285 MWh
# Fire Stations Retrofitted 6 7

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