Historic Places of Worship and Climate Change

We are dedicated to encouraging our Historic Places of Worship to embrace the call to net zero. We recognise this is an integral part of our mission and are actively encouraging sympathetic and appropriate adaptation to achieve this goal. This includes learning from others, sharing resources and good practice and collaboration.

How can our place of worship be ready for the challenges of climate change? 

Good routine maintenance is the first step in preparedness. Small measures can help us prepare for extreme weather and should be incorporated into your annual maintenance plan, these include: 

  • Clearing gutters, hoppers and downpipes of detritus to ensure water flows away from your building. Consider increasing the capacity of any replacement rainwater goods;
  • Check and secure any roofing materials to prevent loss in high winds or water penetration from slipped slates etc; 
  • High level stonework should be inspected and checked and made good where it is found to be loose.
  • Your lightening protection should be maintained and checked for efficiency; and
  • Re-pointing in an appropriate mortar should be carried out where pointing is missing to prevent water penetrating into the building.  Defects such as damp walls and poorly fitting doors and windows can substantially reduce thermal performance. 

10 Simple Measures to make your Historic Place of Worship more Energy Efficient for other tips on where to start making changes see the Methodist Church's webpages Get Your Building Down to Net Zero. 

How can our Historic Place of Worship contribute to net zero targets?

Historic Places of Worship can make a difference and can respond to the challenges of climate change. For examples and case studies on how other churches and historic buildings are making a difference see the Historic Environment Forum's Heritage Responds web pages which includes case studies on solar arrays and energy efficient heating systems.

Guide to Energy Retrofit in Traditional Buildings Not sure how to make your traditional building more energy efficient? Historic Environment Scotland has published a new guide looking at different retrofit options as well as important considerations such as material compatibility and building regulations. Whilst the guidance covers all buildings, including domestic buildings, it offers general principles that can apply to any church or chapel of traditional construction. Please find the guidance note here.

Historic Environment Scotland has also collated a number of other resources which consider energy efficiency measures. Whether you are looking for technical data, a look at their live Q&A or to read their extensive list of case studies, you can find links to all of them here

The Church of England’s Environment Webinars

The Church of England has produced a number of webinars on a variety of topics relating to carbon reduction and meeting ‘net zero carbon ‘emissions targets. Sessions include:

  • Environmental fundraising;
  • Best heating and lighting solutions;
  • Net zero carbon topics covering heat pumps, "conservation pitfalls en route to net zero", assessing embodied carbon in retrofit projects, and net zero schools;
  • Eco Church; and
  • Defining and measuring net zero

 A link to these webinars can be found here

To read Historic England's strategy and response to the climate, energy and biodiversity crisis, including an assessment on the role of heritage, visit their webpages here. You can also access their guidance notes on:

  • Solar Electric (Photovoltaics) - this advice note describes the different options available and how they work as well as advice on how to minimise the potential damage to fabric and visual impact of a renewable installation. 
  • Heat Pumps - this advice note offers help on how to minimise damage to historic fabric when considering your heat pump installation. 
  • Renewable Energy Generation in Historic Places of Worship - This is a general web page outlining relevant considerations for trustees when thinking about the installation of renewable energy equipment in Historic Places of Worship. 
  • Heating Historic Buildings - This section covers the issues to be considered when refurbishing a historic heating system. It also looks at designing and installing a new heating system in a historic building. Read on to find advice on the different types of heating systems, their suitability for the building, collection and occupants, installation, control systems and maintenance. 
  • Low and Zero Carbon Technologies - This gives links to low or zero carbon technologies that generate electricity or heat or both with low or no carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions are vital to meeting this target, such as biomass boilers, combined heat and power, hydroelectric power etc. 
  • Internal Lighting in Historic Buildings - This explains the issues to be considered when refurbishing historic internal lighting or designing and installing a new layout. Read on to find advice on light fittings, types of lamps and their suitability, installation, control systems and maintenance.
  • External Lighting of Historic Buildings - This section covers the issues to be considered when designing and installing external lighting to illuminate a historic structure or building and its surroundings. Historic England's advice covers light fittings, types of lamps, differing control systems and their suitability, security, installation and maintenance.

New Scheme For EV Charging Points

The Government has introduced a new Workplace Charging Scheme that will provide grants for organisations to purchase and install electric vehicle (EV) charging points – applicant can receive grant funding of up to £350 per socket (with a limit of 40 sockets across all sites per applicant). Guidance for charities and small accommodation businesses applying to the scheme can be found here.


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