Take First Steps

These are actions that nearly all churches can benefit from, even those churches that might only be used only on a Sunday. They are relatively easy, with relatively fast pay back. They are a good place for churches to start when trying to move towards net zero.  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:  Some 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 the work commences.  

Click here to move onto MAKE A BIGGER IMPACT. 

The Building
  1. One of the most straight forward ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to keep on top of any maintenance issues for the building.  For example, a damp wall is only 1/3 as efficient as a dry wall.  Thus, it's vital to maintain the roof and gutters in order to prevent damp entering the building and warm air escaping.  

    For more information, please refer to the guidance on Regular Inspections and for traditional built buildings, refer Maintenance and Repair of Historic Places of Worship.  
  2. Create a plan for servicing and maintaining the boilers or electric heaters regularly.

  3. Fix any broken window panes* and make sure opening windows shut tightly, to reduce heat loss.

  4. Insulate around heating pipes to direct heat where you want it; this may allow other sources of heat to be reduced in this area.

  5. If draughts from doors are problematic, draught-proof the gaps* or put up a door-curtain*.

  6. Consider using rugs/floor-coverings (with breathable backings) and cushions on/around the pews/chairs.

*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.  

Heating and Lighting
  1. Switch to 100% renewable electricity and “green” gasEcoChurch have produced this guidance on Buying Greener Energy.  Some issues to consider are:  

    • When purchasing main electricity that is 100% generated from renewable energy service provider:  
      •  When does the current contract end?
      • What is the comparative price for 100% renewable energy?
      • Is renewable source acceptable to you? (e.g., is it 100% renewable? Is it partially offset?)
    • When purchasing mains gas from a supplier that has a renewable content, eg biogas:  
      • When does the current contract end?
      • Is an acceptable contract available to you? (Is it biogas or is it partially offsetting carbon from natural gas?)
    • When group buying of oil or bottled LPG gas:
      • There are no easy low carbon switches for oil and bottled LPG gas. You could investigate group purchases which would reduce the carbon emissions from transport.   

  2. If your current appliances fail, then replace with A+++ appliances.  

  3. Set a schedule and plan to service and maintain the boilers or electric heaters been regularly.  

  4. Match heating settings better to usage, so you only run the heating when necessary.* Try to undertake a systematic visual inspection of each area and check for that building is being run efficiently.  Are there part of the building that are being left switched on or controlled incorrectly? 

    Please note that buildings of traditional construction may require constant low-level heating and that this should be factored into any heating plan.

  5. If you have water-filled radiators, try turning-off the heating 15 minutes before the service ends; for most churches this allows the heating system to continue to radiate residual warmth.*

  6. Replace lightbulbs with LEDs, where simple replacement is possible.

  7. Add timings or motion sensors so that the lighting will automatically switch off in areas that are unoccupied.*

  8. Add labels for switches and put up signage to remind people to turn the lights off when not in use.

  9. Replace floodlights with new LED units.

  10. Make sure that windows and lights are clean.

  11. If you have radiators, add a glycol based “anti-freeze” to your radiator system and review your frost setting.

  12. If you have internet connection, install a HIVE- or NEST-type heating controller, to better control heating.

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.  

People and Policies
  1. Calculate your carbon footprint each year using 360 Carbon, as part of your annual property checks and communicate the results to your circuit and district.  

  2. Appoint a Net Carbon Zero Champion who tracks bills and encourages people to turn things off when not needed.

  3. Write an energy efficiency procurement policy; commit to renewable electricity & A+++ rated appliances.

  4. Consider moving church council meetings elsewhere during cold months, rather than running the church heating.
Manses
  1. Attend to maintenance issues as indicated from annual inspection and/or quinquennial inspection.  

    As in church buildings, maintenance of a manse is vital for its efficiency.  For more information, please refer to Guidelines for Manses

  2. Maintain the roof and gutters, to prevent damp entering the building and warm air escaping.

  3. Fix any broken windows and make sure opening windows shut tightly, to reduce heat loss.

  4. Insulate around heating pipes to direct heat.

  5. Encourage the occupants to switch to 100% renewable electricity and ‘green’ gas.

  6. Match heating settings better to usage, so you only run the heating when necessary.

  7. Replace lightbulbs with LEDs, where simple replacement is possible.

  8. If you have internet connection, install a HIVE- or NEST-type heating controller, to better control heating.

  9. If the current appliances fail, then replace with A+++ appliances.

Energy Savings Trust offers further energy advice for homes.  It includes guidance for:

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

Further Resources

SPAB (Society of the Protection of Ancient Buildings) has an excellent series of videos on church maintenance.  Click here to view. 

Ecochurch have produced this guide on the following topics:

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

Case Studies

Haygreen Methodist Church 

Raunds Methodist Church

Claremont Methodist Church

Examples from the Church of England

Back to Net Zero Carbon

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