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/ 24 July 2020

Gate Closing … Annual Parish Returns, Energy Footprinting Tool

Data Panels, can help fill in the new Energy Footprinting Tool (EFT)

Few of us may have heard the ominous announcement ‘Gate Closing’ in recent months. 

Well, this particular gate – the deadline for entering your parish data in the national Annual Returns system – is closing for most of its sections on Friday 31st July. However, the departure date for one section has been extended by the C of E’s Statistics Department. That’s the new Energy Footprinting Tool (EFT). This will now close on 30th September.

Annual Parish Returns can be found at Annual Returns Online. Just enter your Username and Password, then on you go.

EFT is a nifty tool to record your energy use and calculate your carbon emissions. It is based on London’s ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ system in our annual returns, which we’ve been using successfully since 2007. Now we’ve migrated to the new national system. If anything it is simpler to use than our older system in London. 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, leaving out option that doesn’t apply to you.

Yet it is a significant advance in functionality. It will return your results to you straightaway, without waiting for someone to analyse the data – your numbers are crunched automatically, delivering your results straight to your computer or phone while you wait.

EFT also includes 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 (a bit like the grades assigned to a house when it’s sold or rented). They are 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.

It will help you if you’ve completed the Statistics for Mission sections by 31st July. Some of this data is borrowed by EFT – it will just pop up pre-completed if you go on to EFT, either directly or a few weeks later. You do still need to do that by 30th September.

The new EFT was given only a soft launch in the Spring. We didn’t want to overload people in parishes, just after churches closed at the height of the pandemic. You might not even have been able to get at your figures then, if your bills were locked away in the church office. You’ll need those bills ready and handy now, when you come to complete EFT. Remember, it’s energy bills for last year that you need – just 2019, not 2020. It’s always the previous year that gets to be reported on.

You’ll also need a floor area for the church, in square metres. That can be estimated from a plan, or by your Quinquennial Inspector. The National C of E already has this data for many churches. But not all. If they do have it, again the number will just pop up in the right box. Take a look at their number, see if you think it’s about right, and correct it if necessary. This will help with your benchmarking grades.

11% of our churches in London have completed EFT already. We used to get a 50% return on our London system. The difference is quite understandable in the unique circumstances of this year. But we want everyone to have the chance to put in their church’s info and get their results. This helps the whole Church of England measure and track our progress in saving energy and carbon, helping to tackle climate change.

More have started EFT but not quite finished. Maybe you went away to hunt for some missing info. Hopefully, now you’ve found it, you can go back and polish off the job – gaining the satisfaction of knowing your church’s carbon footprint and benchmarking grades.

Any problems – we’re here to help. Just contact Brian Cuthbertson


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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