Case studies on carbon reduction in Yorkshire North and East Methodist District

The story of every church community that has committed to reducing their carbon footprint is different but these case studies can be used as a way of learning and being inspired. Sometimes it is just taking the first step that appears to be the most difficult. Here are some examples from the Yorkshire North and East District of churches that have had initial reports done on how they might proceed:


Withernsea Methodist Church

  • £149,400: Estimated cost of Net Zero
    • 7.18 Tonnes CO2 Saved per year
    • 42 Church Members
    • 6,283: Population of Withernsea

Withernsea Methodist Church is situated less than 200m from the North Sea, on one of the fastest eroding coastlines in Europe. Projections show Withernsea will be underwater by 2050 if global temperatures continue to rise as predicted. The Church joined the Rural Community Energy Fund project to investigate how they can do their bit for climate change, in spite of the level of deprivation in the town (ranked in the top 6% of UK deprivation).

In ordinary times, 1 in 24 residents of Withernsea come to the Methodist Church for community activities each week. The Church is home to groups supporting generations from cradle to grave. We have a range of dance classes from tap to line dancing and we hope to reopen our café in the near future. We host a range of concerts, barn dances and table top sales in the community room and Church. Walk past of an evening and you’ll likely hear the tunes from the town majorettes in training, the Withernsea Ladies Choir or the Church worship group. In essence, the church is a community hub in a town which sees a great deal of hardship, servicing an area often referred to as the forgotten part of East Yorkshire.

Withernsea Methodist Church have shown that deprivation need not stop progress towards Net Zero. Church members have rolled up their sleeves and embraced the opportunities provided by the Rural Community Energy Fund by joining 34 other churches in the Yorkshire North and East District to find out what Net Zero looks like for their Church.

D3 Associates were commissioned to assess the feasibility of Net Zero, and found that operational Net Zero could be achieved by:

  • Insulating Roof Voids
  • Installing Double Glazing
  • Replacing gas boilers with ‘Air to Air’ Air Source Heat Pumps
  • Installing 18 kW Solar PV system and two Tesla Powerwall Batteries

The church eagerly await news of Stage 2 funding from the Rural Community Energy Fund enabling them to further develop their project.

Church Project Lead Mike Cox says “Through the Rural Community Energy Fund we have been able to identify how we can achieve Net Zero. With D3’s expertise we can see what is possible and practical. We look forward to progressing our project and doing our bit for the climate emergency”.


Hutton Cranswick Methodist Church

The Methodist Church in Hutton Cranswick was built in 1861. Over the years it has been well maintained and its facilities developed in line with legislation changes, and the changing demands of its members. Whilst the entrance hall, vestry and washrooms were modified in 2011, in line with more modern building standards, the main Chapel and Church Hall (Built in 1969) remain pretty much as they were when they were built. Whilst efforts have been made to insulate the roof void in the chapel, add carpets and modern seating, its structure and large single glazed windows can make heating a challenge on colder days.

The opportunity presented by the net zero (Carbon emission) grant initiative has allowed the members to focus on the Churches medium- to long-term needs in terms of structure, facilities, and its heating requirements. Whilst some of the potential initiatives could be seen as extravagant it was decided to initially focus on short-term developments that could impact our net zero challenge quickly and at a relatively sensible cost. In view of the aging church hall and the relative low usage of the chapel, it was decided that any immediate developments would be limited to some secondary glazing in the hall and to the use of solar panels, and Tesla storage banks, for heating and lighting the overall premises. Whilst the use of air-to-air heat exchangers in the church and church hall were an interesting option the relatively high investment will be not be considered at this stage until we have a clear plan for the replacement of the church hall which has passed its ‘best before date’.

The phase 1 development will benefit the various groups who utilise the church hall (Church meetings, Playgroup, Art club, Scouts and Guides etc) in terms of making the environment more comfortable and the solar panel initiative will of course benefit the planet by reducing the carbon footprint of the premises.

Andrew Chambers, Treasurer at Hutton Cranswick Methodist Church,  commented “ The opportunity we have been given by the Rural Energy Fund to not only reduce our carbon footprint, but at the same time improve the sustainability of the chapel in Hutton Cranswick, is something that the members have embraced and greatly appreciate ”


Boston Spa Methodist Church

The church building, now Grade II listed, was originally constructed in the mid 19th century. A major refurbishment with a new extension was completed in 2017 and included the installation of a new central heating system, powered by two gas-fired boilers. The church operates as a community facility as well as a worship centre and, to ensure it remains economically viable, church members are committed to working towards a net zero carbon footprint. Efforts are concentrated in the following areas:


Whilst the newer parts of the building have been constructed to take advantage of the latest insulation standards, the original structure is of solid stone, which inhibits some insulation work (although dry lining walls with high insulation panels will be installed where possible). The main building had a small amount of double glazing many years ago, but that is well below current insulation standards. It is planned, over a period of years, for all the glazing to be brought up to the highest standard.

Energy consumption

The heating system is separately controlled in each of the internal areas and, by use of area time controls, the maximum efficiency is already achieved. The refurbished areas have had low energy bulbs fitted; other areas are switching to LED lights as they are upgraded. The car park now has LED lighting and is time/darkness controlled – quite a large saving in energy consumption.


Where replacement/refurbishment is planned, equipment and materials which require the lowest upkeep costs are used: for example, the car park area is due to be resurfaced with long term maintenance-free materials this spring. Whilst not a direct contributor to carbon savings, lower maintenance costs have a positive effect.

Energy sources

The heating system is only five years old, so although air-source and ground-source heat pumps have been considered, the high cost of switching (which would mean new radiators as well as new boilers) does not make this a practical consideration until the existing system is due for normal replacement. As noted above, there is a move to the most efficient lighting systems, but a method of self-generating electricity is also a key possibility. The main building has a large roof area: although the roof slope is east-west, it should be able to generate a sizeable amount of electricity. As the building is grade II listed, there are constraints in finding an installation acceptable to the planners and ensuring that the building retains its aesthetical appearance. As a result, the use of solar “roof tile” panels (which should be acceptable) is being investigated, with a view to applying for a grant (hopefully to include double glazing). It is estimated that the solar array could save up to 1.3tonnes CO2 per annum.


The structure of the main building provides constraints on achieving a full net zero carbon result. However, the measures being putting in place, if combined with a renewable energy installation, should reduce the carbon footprint by a large percentage.

Sherburn-in-Elmet Methodist Church

  • Total project capital cost: £150,000
  • Total annual carbon emissions saved: 11.3tonnesCO2

Sherburn-in-Elmet Methodist Church is a modern church building, constructed in 1987 which provides a range of facilities to meet the needs of the congregation and the local community. It is particularly popular with dance classes, Brownies and exercise classes.

Due to its age the building is in very good condition and already well insulated though, like many, there is a gas boiler for heating. The community has for a while been interested in renewable energy technologies and were keen to discover the options for heat pumps and solar PV panels.

Working with South Holderness Circuit the church received financial support from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) to prepare a report on the pathway towards becoming net zero. Advisers, D3 Associates visited in September 2021 to discuss the options open to the church. There is little that is financially viable to improve the thermal properties of the building fabric except replace the glazing to the timber windows. Currently they are single glazed and they were advised that a practical and cost effective solution, as the timber frames are in good condition, is just to replace the glazing with double glazing units.

The community were intrigued to understand the options open to them for replacing the fossil fuelled heating system with a low carbon option. Their advisers considered all forms of heat pump technology and based on the building type and usage propose the most appropriate solution bearing in mind capital and operating costs. The recommendation for the church is to install a new dedicated air to water heat pump system with new pipework and heat emitters.

One drawback of going all electric is the capacity of the incoming electrical supply. The church's is not sufficient to cope with heat pumps, therefore, they will need to apply for an upgrade.

To avoid high electricity bills, an essential part of the pathway to net zero, is to install solar PV panels to generate their own electricity, primarily for use within the building. Fortunately, they have low pitch roofs facing east and west which will ensure generation throughout the day and sufficient area for enough panels to match anticipated annual electrical demand. In addition, the installation of battery storage will ensure they can maximise usage within the building.

Brough Methodist Church

  • Total project estimated cost: £215,000
  • Annual carbon emissions saved: 16.3tonnesCO2e

Brough Methodist Church is a popular and thriving church supporting the community of Brough, situated around 12 miles west from the centre of Hull.

The Chapel, Church Hall and ancillary accommodation were built in 1958. The more recently constructed welcome centre, with its’ striking glazed front elevation, provides a warm and friendly environment to welcome visitors.

The church offers a variety of services to appeal to all their congregation. In addition, they host a range of activities for all ages from Let’s Play Group and The Zone Youth Group to Friendship Club and twice weekly coffee mornings. In addition, the church is popular with local community groups and the venue for the daily Brough Eagles Playgroup.

Due to the church's busyness the energy use is high,  carbon emissions being around 16tonnes a year. They have previously installed solar PV panels on the church rooves to generate electricity, however, they are very keen to build on this and welcome the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint.

D3 Associates advised the church by taking a holistic approach to reducing carbon, initially focussing on improvements to the building fabric to reduce heat losses then to consider alternative methods of electric heating to avoid burning fossil fuels. Finally, they calculate how much solar PV would be needed to generate enough electricity over the course of one year to match demand. Battery storage was also proposed to allow excess electricity generated through the day to be stored for evening use.

Whilst the community are still unsure whether heat pumps are an appropriate solution for the building, they are very keen for further detailed design to be undertaken to enable them to make an informed decision.

The proposed energy saving measures for the church are:

  • Check for draughts and seal
  • Increase the insulation to the roof void above the Chapel
  • Add insulation to the flat rooves to the rear buildings
  • Replace existing aluminium windows which are in a poor condition with new double glazed units

It is estimated this will reducer heat demand by up to 25%, to enable the installation of an air to water heat pump system without resulting in high electricity bills.

To enable them to be net zero, they would need to install a further 25kW of solar PV on our flat rooves.