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;
  • 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, Remember DAMP=COLD!;
  • Gently dust fan convector heater fins and grills on back of fridges to increase efficiency 
  • Ensure your radiators can function efficiently; bleed radiators if cold at the top, have sludge flushed-out if cold at the bottom.
  • Get the boiler services
  • Fix leaking taps
  • Keep radiators clear of furniture or other obstructions
  • Don't block air vents or other intentional ventilation, and remember some windows may need to be open to let condensation out and to help moist air evaporate from the building. 
  • Insulate heating pipes and water tanks
  • Turn lights off when the room is not in use.

A template Annual Maintenance Plan can be found here.

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.

Church of England Statement on Hydrogen and HVO as heating fuel
The Church Buildings Council, after careful consideration of advice from its Net-Zero Building Services Committee, has issued a statement on the use of Hydrogen and HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil) as heating fuels. The statement which includes details of some recent research, shows why it does not consider that either fuel is appropriate to use as part of the move away from fossil fuels in the church setting. 
Church of England EPCs and leased space in a church or church hall
The Church Buildings Council has issued a guidance note on EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) and leased space in churches and church halls. This detailed note includes links to relevant legislation and guidance in this particularly complex area. This is a matter where a church is best advised to seek specific legal advice to supplement the principles set out in the note. 

The Church of England’s Environment programme
These webpages are where you can find the NEW series of webinars from January 2024 (as well as past ones) and events designed to support and equip churches to reach the ambitious ‘net zero carbon ‘emissions target. 

Church of England: Updated grants directory
Are you looking for grants to help fund a local environmental project? Their extensive online directory has been updated and lists organisations which may be able to help you.

Green Church Awards open for entries
You are invited to enter the new Church Times Green Awards! Tell us what your church, school or community group is doing to make a big impact in your community through eco projects. The awards aim to celebrate the great work of church communities around the country who are caring for God's creation. The deadline for entries is 30 June 2024

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.

Cadw on 'How to improve energy efficiency in Historic Buildings in Wales' ... 'for everyone': The challenge of climate change requires everyone to act, and Cadw has produced guidance for anyone who wants to improve the energy efficiency of a traditional or historic building. 

“How to Improve Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings” is guidance aimed at owners and managers of historic buildings. It describes a ‘whole building approach’ to devising and implementing energy efficiency improvements that:

  • avoid harming the significance of the building
  • are effective, cost efficient, proportionate and sustainable
  • ensure a healthy and comfortable environment for occupants, and
  • minimise the risk of unintended consequences.

It considers the factors that influence levels of energy use in historic buildings and explains the whole building energy planning process in detail. It also includes checklists of energy efficiency measures that might be suitable as part of this approach, with links to sources of more detailed technical information on upgrading building elements such as roofs, walls and floors.

There is a widely held view that older buildings are not energy efficient and must be radically upgraded to improve their performance. In practice, the situation is more complicated, and assumptions about poor performance are not always justified. Even so, the energy and carbon performance of most buildings can be improved. And small savings quickly add up.

The guidance can be found 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.

Future of Heating in Historic Buildings – Conference Recordings The conference recordings for the Future of Heating in Historic Buildings are now available on YouTube. This took place on 28 June and involved a partnership between The Fit for the Future network (National Trust), Church of England and Historic England. Topics included decarbonised heating, carbon neutrality and heat pumps.

Scheme For EV Charging Points

The Government has introduced a 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.

The Historic Environment Forum (HEF) The Historic Environment Forum (HEF) has launched a new Sustainability & Net Zero Resource Page, which shares key materials from the HEF Sustainability & Climate Change Task Group to support the heritage sector on the path to Net Zero. You can access this here