Funding helps Woodlands Methodist Church reduce energy use on their premises

In Glasgow, Woodlands Methodist Church joined HeatHack, a Royal Academy of Engineering-funded project to help churches and community organisations reduce their energy use

02 May 2024

Woodlands Methodist Church in the Methodist Church in Scotland is recognised locally for its commitment to Net Zero and, during COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference that took place in Glasgow in 2021, the church was the Methodist hub, organising a rich programme of events and exhibitions and welcoming people from all around the globe.

One of the reasons is their partnership with HeatHack who was looking for churches in 2020 to try a new programme that helps groups understand where their buildings waste energy. Revd Laurent Vernet, minister in the Strathclyde circuit, jumped on the opportunity, “They help volunteer engineers work with venues and have been a great help.”

Making energy efficiency improvements in a listed sandstone building with very high ceilings and large stained-glass windows is not easy.  Achieving Net Zero is probably impossible, but Laurent is dedicated to Climate Justice and making the building as energy efficient as possible.

“Our volunteer engineer helped us think about why parts of our building feel cold and how we can reduce heat loss,” explains Laurent. The engineer worked with a small group from the church on a set of activities over four sessions. A planning “card game” helped them sort through a wide range of possible actions quickly to find the ones that fit their building and their finances.


Woodlands had replaced its gas boiler in 2018. They found that they were turning the heating on too late and running it too long, with the building more comfortable after people left.  They installed controls to learn from experience when to turn the heating on. The system can be set from home, making it easy to accommodate groups at short notice.

The boiler is the right size, but to get the heat to the right place they will install four modern fan convectors when they can afford it. Their engineer is confident that with these changes, they will be more comfortable and use less gas. They also want to see if they can keep heat from going straight out of the front door by adding secondary doors to form a draught lobby. They are also wondering whether the installation of fans pushing warm air down from the ceiling would be worth the installation costs.

The engineer helped the group document the building and what changes might work for them.   “Which is a great help for attracting funding. I think when we can show what we are doing to save money, more churches will join. Hopefully, it won’t be too late,” adds Laurent.

So far, three out of 12 churches in the circuit have taken part. The HeatHack programme is free of charge and includes a basic temperature monitoring service. They are still accepting churches’ application so for more information, check the HeatHack guide.