East Molesey Methodist Church’s Journey Towards Net Zero

17 May 2023

East Molesey Methodist Church started its Net Zero journey in 2015. In 2021 it joined A Rocha UK’s award scheme for churches in England and Wales who want to show their commitment to preserving God’s earth and is already working towards its Silver Award. This is a story of determination and commitment to Climate Justice.

Situated in Surrey, the church was opened in 1877. It is constituted of three parts: the church, Moss Hall, the Sunday School, built in 1885, and an extension completed in 1970, at the same time Moss Hall was remodelled and all the classrooms were removed.

east-moseley-net-zero-interiorIn 2015, the church’s team decided to become greener and improved the extension’s three rooms: double glazing was added and the roof lights changed. Half of the lighting tubes in the church have also been changed to LED. In 2019, a new heating management system was installed, “It did not save a lot of money, but it saved carbon,” says Ian Pegg, the treasurer of the church. More recently, Moss Hall’s heating was upgraded and double glazing was installed on the south wall’s windows.

The team decided to join Eco Church in the autumn of 2021 and started planning to install photovoltaic panels soon after. With their ongoing work to tackle climate change and the rise of the cost of living, it seemed the right time to make the transition. They applied for and received a local authority grant in June 2022 to change the flooring of Moss Hall and to install photovoltaic panels on the south-facing side of the Sunday School. However, the grant was not enough to finance the work they intended.

The local preacher, Bron Coveney, their eco-champion since mid-2022, applied to the Methodist Insurance Awards. “We are very fortunate to have a team of invested people with different but complementary skills,” added Ian Pegg.

The road towards Net Zero is a difficult one. The challenges the team faces are financial and limited by the nature of the building. The main body of the church was refurbished in 2001 but the pipes under the floor were not insulated, which will need to be addressed at some point. The beautiful stained-glass windows cannot be double-glazed. The church is not energy efficient, and it is “not used every day, maybe about three times a week, we don’t keep it warm all the time,” says Ian Pegg.

Despite not being a listed building, the Victorian church is in a conservation area. This means that to be allowed to install photovoltaic panels, they had to have the property consent of the Methodist Church (circuit and district) and receive planning permission from local authorities. It was a long process, and they only received a positive answer from local authorities in late April 2023. They have just received the approval of their district’s before starting the work – which should happen by the end of June as per their local authority grant conditions.

The biggest challenge remains the cost of all these improvements. Their fundraising team does a brilliant work at bringing in money, but they all would prefer to use the funds to help other charities and people in need. “We would like to apply for more grants, but it is time-consuming,” commented  Ian Pegg. “The installation of the photovoltaic panels is just a step on the road: we want to insulate the roof and the cavity walls of the extension. Moss Hall’s ceiling needs to be insulated and the north-facing windows to be double-glazed.

Being an Eco Church is not limited to improving the buildings, East Molesey Church’s team has other initiatives such as an annual Book fair, recycling scrap metal and a beetle bank in its garden to favour biodiversity.

Learn more about the Methodist Church’s commitment to Net Zero.

Watch a video about becoming an Eco Church.

East Molesey was featured in HeatingSave regarding their new energy system in April 2023. Watch Building Energy Management System at East Molesey.