Assess Your Building & Energy Usage

The first step is assess the building in order to understand its performance and energy usage.  Management guru Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying, ‘You can’t manage [or improve] what you can’t measure’.  Knowing the impact of what we are doing as a church can help start conversations about what is an appropriate level of resource use or what reasonable steps we might take to reduce our impact. 

360 Carbon - which is part of Climate Stewards - is an online tool that can calculate the operational carbon footprint for the building. 

Operational carbon is the carbon emitted in the day-to-day running of a building while embodied carbon is the carbon emitted during construction of a building.  Please note that although our historic buildings may have a higher operational carbon footprint, their embodied carbon footprint is very low as they are still fulfilling the original purpose for which they were built. 

If your church is working on becoming an EcoChurch, then 360 Carbon is the recommended measurement tool.  If you are new to Eco Church, it is strongly encourage you to complete at least the Energy Section on the 360°carbon tool in order to achieve a Bronze Award.  

EcoChurch have produced guidance on Carbon Footprint Measurement and Offsetting to help think through the issues.  

Before you begin, you will need to following information to hand:

  • The utility bills (gas, electric, oil or whichever fuel you use) for the previous year

  • The floor area of the church.  Some churches have already calculated this.  If in doubt, you could contact your Quinquennial Inspector or local Surveyor to assist.  As well, you could request the floor area to be calculated as part of the next quinquennial inspection.   Here are some estimations to assist:  
    • The average church is  between 300m2 and 400m2
    • 75% of churches are between 200m2 and 700m2 
    • A particularly large church (largest 10%) will be larger than 750m2
    • A particularly small church (smallest 10%) will be smaller than 160m2
  • The average occupancy of the building

    • Sundays and Special Services
      • Average attendance at Sunday Services, Special Services
      • Number of Sunday Services and Special Services per year
      • Average time spent in the building for Sunday and Special Services
    • Weekdays
      • Number of different activities held in the building
      • Number of weeks per year activities run
      • Average number of people who use the building
      • Average time spent in the building during these activities 
    • Staff
      • Number of staff
      • Number of weeks per year that staff work
      • Average time spent in the building per week

In 2006, we appointed a Net Carbon Zero Champion. Several grants were obtained to enable an energy assessment of all our buildings to be made. Just as important, a 'Vision Group' was set up in order that the whole congregation might have a chance to envision the way forward. We took the major decision that we were not going to plan for gradual decline but for growth. We applied and obtained Eco-church status.  It provided a comprehensive framework for action in all the necessary fields. Reading all the meters in the building every week was a key element.  This data provided a few surprises but more importantly, it provided the evidence for the need to act and proof that we were saving money!   The full-time caretake gradually increased his enthusiasm in taking meter-readings.   

Click here to move onto TAKE FIRST STEPS

1. Manses

To calculate the carbon footprint for a manse, you can use the Carbon Calculator for Homes on the Climate Stewards website

EPC Certificates
The guidelines on manse provision (CPD, Book VII, Part 2.3) state that an incoming minister should be provided with a current Energy Performance Certificate, and that ‘Circuits should seek to provide manses to meet a minimum of a ‘C’ energy efficiency rating.’

Thus, if a manse does not have a valid EPC certificate (ie, more than 10 years old), then arrange to get a new EPC certificate.  More information can be found here.    

Energy Savings Trust offers further energy advice for homes and has a Guide to Energy Performance Certificates

2. Further Resources

Occupancy Profile will help you track who uses the building

Types of Energy Meters will help you identify the different types of meters and ensure that accurate readings are taken

Back to Net Zero Carbon

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