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/ 27 September 2021

Energy Footprint Tool wins national award

The Church of England has won through in the National Energy Awards to secure an award for its Energy Footprint Tool (EFT). This recording and monitoring aid was named ‘Innovation of the Year’ against nine other shortlisted candidates, ranging from Utility companies to technology companies to building services analytics.

Inception of the project came after the Dioceses of London and Truro jointly submitted a motion to the Church’s General Synod in 2018, calling for progress in a number of areas towards the Church of England’s efforts to tackle climate change.  These proposals included a new national system to record churches’ energy use and calculate their carbon footprint.

EFT was then developed and launched by the national Church’s Statistics Department, based on algorithms developed by the Diocese of London following its successful Shrinking the Footprint system of annual returns, which had already been in operation every year since 2007.

The UK’s national Energy Awards tweeted:

Brian Cuthbertson, the Diocese of London’s Head of Environment and Sustainability, said:

“It’s been a pleasure and privilege to be a part of this exciting and innovative project.  Credit goes to the 40 dioceses and 4,700 churches up and down the land who have used the system, and before that to all the faithful clergy and volunteers in London Diocese who made such a success of our own system for more than a decade before that. Energy Footprint Tool is already a cornerstone of the Church of England’s campaign to reduce our carbon emissions towards our target of net zero by 2030.”

EFT forms part of the national system Annual Parish Returns. Churches are placed in A++ to G bands for efficiency, compared to the size of their buildings, and compared to the numbers attending church and other events in their Church and Church Hall.

Of the 4,700 churches around the country who took part in the first year, 2020 (recording their data from 2019), half of London churches took part, including 195 with complete figures.  This showed that compared to our base year of 2005, by the end of 2019 churches in the Diocese had achieved:

  • 19.2% savings in annual energy use, 20.9% net of renewable energy
  • 27.1% savings in carbon dioxide (CO2e) emissions, 29.2% net of renewable energy.

This was a tremendous effort by our churches, especially in view of the period of lockdown, among all the burdens parishes and churches have been shouldering during the pandemic. It represented a major step towards our target of net-zero by 2030, and contribution towards our duty to help limit climate change, and care for God’s Creation.

Because 2020 was affected by lengthy closures due to Covid, that should have reduced churches’ energy use substantially. In 2021, the system will report the actual energy and resulting carbon emissions from 2020. The totals for the Church of England and the Diocese should be way down on 2019. At the same time, a calculation is built into the system, so the A++ to G bands assigned to show the efficiency of each church will be adjusted to enable sensible comparison with the previous year and future years.

Just a few days remain – until 30th September – for churches to enter parish data from 2020 in EFT, within the 2021 Annual Returns system. 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. Gate closing! Don’t wait!

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