Church Buildings and the Challenge Ahead
Church buildings (and halls) make up 40% of the Church of England’s carbon emissions. Inefficient heating is the main offender, culminating on average 85% of church energy consumption. The Shrinking the Footprint Energy Audit Report, produced in 2012, reported that over 70% of church heating was produced by fossil fuels. Whilst moving to more environmentally friendly heating systems would hypothetically improve this, realistically the technology associated with this is often prohibitively expensive, and often not ideally suited to large, spacious, historic buildings.
It is therefore very clear that as a Diocese we need to consider how we can support our PCCs in making their church buildings more energy efficient, and reduce our carbon emissions more widely.
Snapshot from Coventry Diocese
Data collated from the 2019 and 2020 Energy Footprint Tool submissions (based on a 39% submission response) indicate that the total carbon emissions for church buildings in the Diocese is approximately 2500 CO²e per year. This equates to an average of around 9.76 CO²e per year, per church. However, it should be noted that this figure is likely to increase within the 2021 data, due to the easing of restrictions on church buildings during this timeframe as part of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A good starting point is to find out what the carbon footprint of your building is. You can do this via the Church of England's Energy Footprint Tool (please note, this will reopen in early 2022).
Following this, the Practical Path to Net Zero is a short guidance note, produced by the Church of England, sumamrising actions churches can take to reduce their energy consumption and associated carbon emissions.
Solar Panels at St George's Church, Rugby
In 2022, the PCC of St George’s Church in Rugby installed solar panels on to the roof of the church – the first such project of it’s type in the Diocese! The solar panels were part of a wider strategy by the PCC to reduce their carbon footprint and seek to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Other useful links and resources
Caring for God's Acre (website)
Historic England - energy efficiency (website and resources)
Eco Church (website and resources)