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Climate Action Projects
The Diocese of London's Climate Action Projects form part of its strategic plan to address the challenge of energy use and carbon emissions from its buildings. See Route 2050.
See our Shrinking the Footprint portal pages for more on what churches and people can do to reduce our environmental footprint:
Climate Action Projects aim to cut the energy use of churches across the Diocese by at least 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
Climate Action Projects to more than 200 churches in the Diocese have already been undertaken, or are in course of planning or procurement. They may include:
- Any programme of works for environmental and energy-saving works initiated by a PCC;
- Such improvements forming part of works for other purposes;
- Implementation of low-cost actions advised by Environmental Audits;
- Capital works including micro-generation projects, especially photovoltaic panels, supported by the outputs of Generic Building Solutions.
Projects for energy-saving or sustainability purposes, or other projects requiring choices on the same parameters, include those to provide for:
- Building fabric
- Lighting and electrics
- Heating and hot water
- Renewable heat.
Aspects of all of these were studied by the Diocese's Generic Building Solutions project. Churches for potential pilot projects are now being assessed. See also:
Depending on circumstances, the following is likely to be the pecking order for improvements:
- Changing the lightbulbs to low energy models
- Energy management and awareness raising.
- Improved lighting and heating controls – radiator thermostats, timers etc
- Smart metering and energy monitoring.
- Draught proofing
High cost (capital investment)
- Window replacement or glazing improvements
- New lighting and heating
- Renewable energy – especially photovoltaics and biomass heating
- Other new technologies such as Combined Heat & Power (CHP).
Bear in mind that some projects, such as replacing lighting or heating, are seldom viable to undertake until an existing system has reached the end of its life.
These and other questions include whether the project is:
- Short/Medium/Long term?
- Neutral/Poor/Acceptable/Superior user satisfaction?
- Low/Medium/High carbon savings?
- Poor/Viable/Good cost benefit?
Replacing light bulbs is among three basic steps advocated by the Diocese's Shrinking the Footprint campaign.
It is considered a zero-cost measure because although low energy lamps cost more, their lifetime is longer, which also reduces costs to access and replace.
This is also called 'micro-generation'. See Generating your own energy.
To fill the energy gap and tackle climate change, renewable technologies, such as solar panels and biomass boilers, should be introduced as widely as possible.
Many churches are beginning to do this.
At present there continue to be cases where non-renewable energy appliances are the best option, eg condensing boilers. These are designed for ease of maintenance – eg using modular systems – and may survive without total replacement for several decades.
The long term
It should be born in mind that eventually, after 2050, it will be necessary to move to 100% emissions savings, ie zero net carbon energy use. On-site use of fossil fuels including gas and oil must be phased out: gas boilers in churches and dwelling houses, for example, would become redundant – but only when they can be replaced with renewable heat sources such as biomass, or by electricity (including to power heat pumps).
This depends on electricity being generated renewably to an increasing extent. It may be generated on site, eg by solar panels (see below) or biomass combined heat and power. Or it may still be drawn from the grid; but this will only become more beneficial for heating when the emissions from electricity generation fall below those of gas (they are currently 2½ times higher).
Options for on-site renewable energy installation are outlined in the sections below.
At least 24 solar panels projects are completed in the Diocese, with over 50 more under development or being considered.
- See Solar panels.
This is the technical term for boilers that burn wood or other plant material (logs, chips or usually pellets).
This technology is almost carbon-neutral and well worth considering for many churches.
- See Biomass heating.
Ground source heat pumps are beneficial for new homes, and may be worth considering for smaller churches and many church halls.
Air source heat pumps may also be beneficial in some cases.
- See Heat pumps.
Water should be used sparingly – so far as is consistent with good hygiene.
We do not know of any church that recycles water on site yet. Several are installing water butts in the churchyard.
'Grey water' systems are more appropriate for new housing. The new Parsonage of St John Wembley has a rainwater harvesting system.
Retrofitting and the Green Deal
Anyone planning retrofitting projects to the fabric of a historic building such as most churches, whether under the Green Deal or otherwise, should employ suitably accredited professionals for works to traditional buildings.
- See also Climate Action Finance.
Make sure to have your church benchmarked before and after any project.
This is important to verify savings and whether the project has achieved what it set out to.
Project finance may be sought from grants, government Feed-in Tariffs or the Renewable Heat Incentive, bank loans or in some cases loans from the Diocese and other schemes.
Owners including churches may form cooperatives with each other, to share and potentially reduce costs. Some parish trusts may also contribute.
See Climate Action Finance for more on these and other finance options, and also information about VAT.
To talk through any project, contact the Head of Environmental Challenge, the Care of Churches team, or your Archdeacon.