Speak with the builder about ways to reduce waste or how will the building can be tested for energy efficiencies. 

  • BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) sets the standard for best practice in the environmental performance of buildings.  It assesses the building’s performance in areas like energy use, pollution, water consumption, and material usage. However, the age and construction methods of our churches mean that it may not be possible to attain BREEAM standards.

  • LETI (London Energy Transformation Initiative) is a good resource that provides technical targets in order for a building to be net zero carbon - Climate Emergency Design Guide.

  • The materials and products you use to refurbish buildings. Try to use the most environmentally-friendly products possible while also using energy-saving products. If you’re refurbishing a building, this is the ideal time to install such infrastructure.  Review Historic Environment Scotland's Guide for the Retrofit of Traditional Buildings for further ideas.   

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

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

Further suggestions include:

  • Always aim to achieve the highest environmental standards possible.  For every building regulation, there is a best practice standard.  It is worth bearing in mend that today's best practice will often become the future's bare minimum for building regulations.   Make this clear to your architect, when they’re composing their detailed brief.

  • Consider the life expectancy of the proposed new facilities. While they can be more expensive, it may be more cost-effective to go for longer lasting materials.  You review or ask for summary of the capital cost versus the life cycle costs.  A building that is more energy efficient will save money in the long term by having lower energy costs.

  • Do have a procurement strategy?  Where do you plan to source the materials for your project? Could they be sourced locally?

  • Can you re-use any existing materials or equipment? If not is there anywhere you can recycle them locally, perhaps via Freecycle?

  • Where will your contractors come from? Employing a team of contractors from the other side of the county will increase the carbon footprint of the work as they travel to and from the site every day.

  • Using LED bulbs is one of the easiest ways to improve the energy efficiency of a project.

  • Ensure that the building can breathe to avoid moisture being an issue. Implementing cold bridges could help with this issue.

  • Be aware that you will need archaeological advice if you are digging near a graveyard.

  • What will be the environmental impact while the project is taking place? For example, what steps will you take to reduce noise pollution while builders are carrying out your refurbishment? Will the noise affect those in the church and neighbouring properties too?

  • Don’t neglect the environment around your building, improving the biodiversity of any church land or local growing projects are great ways to engage the community

  • You could include a clause in the contract for what to do if the installation of these options is not correct, which would result in the buildings is less energy efficient.  You would need to consider how to measure and for how long.

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