Record Annual Returns show ups and downs of energy and carbon saving
2015 figures for energy and carbon from Parish Annual Returns have been completed in record time. Getting these results out before the end of 2016 helps parishes plan how to save energy and carbon emissions in 2017.
Our 2015 results also show a record response rate — 47.4%. Thanks and congratulations to every parish officer helping with this important piece of work. Can we lift the sample above 50% next year (2017 returns of 2016 figures)?
The result itself from 2015 can be described as fairly neutral. Compared to the year before, 2014, energy use was slightly up in 2015, but carbon emissions were slightly down.
Here are two column charts from 2005-2015, the first showing energy use by our churches, the second showing carbon emissions arising from that energy:
For the first time, error margins (grey bars) are displayed for every year. Statistically, the difference from 2014 to 2015 is hardly significant. However, these adjusted charts do tend to confirm the downward trends (dotted lines). Every year except 2011, 2012 and 2013 are either within or close to the error bars, both in respect of energy and of carbon.
These exceptions are significant, and give us some encouragement. We know that 2012 showed unusually high energy consumption, due to churches opening their doors in the Olympics year, and also the exceptionally wet weather most of that year. The weather made churches cold and dark, so the lighting and heating would have been on during the summer. The correction method for low temperatures does not compensate for this.
2013 and 2011 were our best years (still). We want to figure out what we did right then and build on it! Then we can hope to turn the downward trend further south again.
It does appear that one improvement has been made in 2015 which we can hope is the start of a trend. Electricity use went down. We knew that our principal challenge is to save electricity. Until 2014, we have been much more successful in saving heat — which of course is good in itself. Now churches are starting to reduce their electricity use too — for example by installing through LED lighting. We also need churches to moderate their power use for electronic equipment and audio-visuals. The latest power-saving equipment will help with this.
Online annual returns will open soon for Shrinking the Footprint results from 2016. When filling up your returns, please make sure you include the whole year. The rubric under each question offers more advice and clarification than hitherto, which we hope will be helpful. Any doubts or questions, please do contact me.
Brian Cuthbertson is Head of Environment and Sustainability for the Diocese of London.