Down to Net Zero

These are bigger, more complex, projects, which only busy churches with high energy use are likely to consider. They could reduce energy use significantly, but require substantial work (which itself has a carbon cost) and have a longer payback. They all require professional advice and Consent.  Please refer to the core guidance of the Property Development Pathways and the specific guidance for the Net Zero Carbon Pathway.  

When considering these options, it is recommended to take a holistic and whole building approach so as to balance how people use the building as well as making soft & hard changes to the building.  

You can use the Net Zero Carbon Checklist (Word) or Net Zero Carbon Checklist (pdf) to help review the carbon emissions of your church building(s) and identify actions that can be taken to help reduce energy use and associated carbon emissions. 

PLEASE NOTE:  Many of the suggestions below require consent and it is recommended to seek advice as early as possible.  If the church is of historic or architectural interest, you will need to seek advice from a professional and the Connexional Conservation officer before work commences.   

We have reached net zero, if one allows our photovoltaic-generated electricity to offset our tiny gas usage, one accepts that all renewably generated electricity is carbon free and one excludes embedded carbon in our fabric and supplies. As Jesus Great Commission states in Mark 16:15 ‘Proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’  This we do. - Managing Trustee of Baildon Methodist Church. 

1. The Building
  1. Draught-proof windows.*

  2. If you have an open tower void, insulate or draught-proof the tower ceiling.*

  3. Double-glaze or secondary-glaze suitable windows in well-used areas such offices, vestries and halls.*

  4. Internally insulate walls in well-used areas such offices, vestries and halls.*  

  5. If you have pew platforms, consider insulating under the wooden platform with breathable materials.*

  6. Reinstate ceilings, and insulate above.*

  7. If you are reroofing anyway, then insulate the roof, if appropriate for your roof.*

  8. If you have an uninsulated wall with a cavity (typically build 1940 onwards), then insulate the cavity.*

  9. If the building is regularly used & suitable, such as a church hall, consider appropriate external insulation or render, appropriate for the age and nature of the building.*

EcoChurch have produced guidance on Insulation, Double Glazing and Draught Proofing.  

PLEASE NOTE:  Many of the suggestions below require consent and it is recommended to seek advice as early as possible.  If the church is of historic or architectural interest, you will need to seek advice from a professional and the Connexional Conservation officer before work commences.   

2. Heating and Lighting
  1. Install a new LED lighting system, including all harder-to-reach lights, new fittings & controls.*

  2. Install solar PV, if you have an appropriate roof and use sufficient daytime electricity in the summer.*

  3. If there’s no alternative that does not run on fossil-fuels, then replace an old gas boiler or an oil boiler with a new efficient gas boiler.*

  4. If yours is a well-used church which you want to keep warm throughout the week, then consider an air or ground source heat pump. Ground source heat pumps are more expensive and invasive to install than air source heat pumps, but run more efficiently once installed, depending on ground conditions.*

  5. If you are doing a major reordering or lifting the floor anyway, and yours is a very regularly used church, then consider under-floor heating. This can work well in combination with a heat pump (above).

EcoChurch have produced guidance on:

3. Church Grounds

If you have car parking that is sufficiently used, EV charging points for electric cars can work out cost neutral or earn a small amount of income for the church. Note, they will increase the church’s own energy use, but will support the uptake of electric cars. They could be good in combination with solar PV panels.

Further information can be found on this Brief Guide to Electric Car Charging

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.

4. Manses

Consider selling the manse for a more energy efficient manse.  

Energy Saving Trust has energy advice for homes.   It includes guidance for:

As well, Historic England has produced a Practical Guidance on Energy Efficiency for homes. 

5. Further Resources

Greenspec has a useful schedule of green building materials manufacturers and comparison with carbon output during "cradle to grave" of materials.

Historic England have produced guidance 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.  

Historic Environment Scotland have produced a Guide for the Retrofit of Traditional Buildings.   

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.

The Ecclesiastical Architects & Surveys Association has Best Practice Notes on Sustainability and Net Zero Carbon

The Renewable Energy Centre has some guidance and a list of contractors for renewable energy.

Building Conservation has produced these case studies:

The Diocese of Oxford has produced guidance on Your Church and Heat Pumps.

 EcoChurch have produced guidance on Sustainable Building Projects.

Ensuring Your Project is Sustainable from Crossing the Threshold 

Our Christian Calling to Care for Creation is guidance from The Church in Wales on environmental issues.  

6. Case Studies

Ground Source Heat Pump at St Catherine and St Peter

 Examples from the Church of England

Back to Net Zero Carbon

Share this