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/ 6 September 2021

Closing date approaches for annual parish returns, energy footprint tool

Energy Footprint Tool for churches

The deadline for entering your parish data in the national Annual Returns system closed for most of its sections, during the summer. However, the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT) remains open for your entries, until 30th September. As before, Annual Parish Returns can be found at Annual Returns Online. Just enter your Username and Password, then you’re into the system, ready to go.

EFT is the Church of England’s bespoke tool to record your energy use and calculate your carbon emissions. Based on London’s previous ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ system in our annual returns, it’s even simpler to use. That’s because after you’ve made each entry – eg about what fuels you use – then it only asks you the questions that are still relevant. It leaves out any other options that don’t apply to you.

Crucially, this year an adjustment is made to your church’s data by the system, to reflect the lengthy closures due to the pandemic. Therefore your results should still be relevant and valid, a fair comparison with past and future years. EFT will return your results to you straightaway, without waiting for someone to analyse the data – your numbers are processed automatically, delivering your results straight to your computer or phone while you wait.

More than 30% of our churches have entered their figures this year, so far – a little more than the same time last year. That’s to say, they have entered their energy data for 2020 – information from the whole of the previous calendar year is entered each time.  Then the total for the whole Church of England will be calculated and reported. This shows the trend towards our target of net zero carbon by 2030.  It will show where we got to in our journey, by the end of last year.

Thank you to all the hard-worked staff and volunteers in our churches who have completed this important piece of work already.  We normally rise to about 50% of churches with figures submitted in the end. Let’s see if we can beat that this year. It gets easier each time you do it.  Much of your data should pop up automatically from your previous entries, including from last year, and in Stats for Mission.  Just make any additions, or necessary changes or corrections.

Bear in mind you may have more than one building to record – the church and, say, a separate church hall.  Their figures are entered on additional sheets.  The system should guide you through this process.

A facility is also included to enter any offsetting. Together with the purchase or generation of renewable energy, this can greatly reduce your carbon footprint, especially for electricity.

Please do make sure you complete all the figures by the end of the month. If you need to go away and find the answers to some questions, please make sure to come back and finish it off, then click ‘Submit’.

Once you’re done, EFT will provide you with very simple benchmarking grades for your efficiency, compared to the size of your church, and compared to how busy your church is – measured by attendance and footfall. These grades range from A++ (the best) down to G. Remember, these results for your church will be adjusted to reflect closures during lockdowns. These benchmarking grades are still rated against high standards. Some churches do still get A++ grades – they are highly efficient. Though we’ve all got further to go, if we want to deal with climate change.

Any problems – we’re here to help. Just contact Brian Cuthbertson; brian.cuthbertson@nulllondon.anglican.org.

About Brian Cuthbertson

Brian is the Head of Environment and Sustainability at the Diocese of London.

Read more from Brian Cuthbertson

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