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Energy-saving Benchmarking

This page is about the Diocese’s Energy-saving Benchmarking scheme, to assess the energy use and carbon emissions of churches in the Diocese.

Energy-saving Benchmarking forms part of the Diocese’s Climate Action Programme for churches. It was developed for the Diocese of London by consultants Rickaby Thompson Associates.

Climate Action Programme is part of Route 2050, the Diocese’s strategic plan to reduce the energy use and carbon footprint of all its buildings and property.

Route 2050 is itself a major part of the Diocese’s Environmental campaign, part of the national Church of England’s Environment Programme (‘Shrinking the Footprint’).

At the foot of this page you can download a Benchmarking Survey Form, to get you started with Energy-saving Benchmarking.


Average consumption and carbon footprints for churches in the Diocese have been calculated and are being monitored year by year through the Diocese’s Parish Annual Returns. So far, our best year was 2013n, compared with our base year of 2005. 2017 came close to or equalled 2013.

However, while our Annual Returns measure the energy and carbon emissions from every church that has submitted its figures, it does not by itself assess how efficient or otherwise that energy and carbon may be. That’s because churches vary widely in their size, and how much their buildings are used.

Energy-saving Benchmarking enables us to discover how efficient our churches are, compared to each other and a common standard, taking account of variable including size and use of the premises.

This helps churches plan and implement savings in energy and emission in the most effective way for their building, through efficient management and improvement projects.

The benefits of Energy-saving Benchmarking are free to any church in the Diocese of London.

What is ‘benchmarking’?

Benchmarking can mean different things; what they all do is compare the performance of an organisation, its premises, services etc against a common standard.

Aims and targets

Our first aim is to avoid waste. A lot of energy is wasted by many people and organisations. Without benchmarking it isn’t easy to tell whether energy use is high or low, frugal or wasteful.

We aim to reduce our energy use and carbon emissions across the Diocese by at least 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

These are totals – different contributions will be appropriate from different churches, depending how efficient they are already. Some are ahead of the curve, some behind. Each church needs to be set its own target, representing its fair contribution to the effort of the whole Diocese.


There will be opportunities for improvement. We are finding out if one church is using a lot of electricity, but is economical on gas – while another is consuming large volumes of gas, but sparing on electricity. Does this reflect such a difference between different places? Could they learn from each other and make big savings?

We are also acknowledging good practice. Some churches manage to use comparatively little energy, whilst doing tremendous work in mission and ministry.

Using your church building to its maximum potential does not harm its energy efficiency. On the contrary, the level of use of a church and its relative energy and carbon efficiency can and do improve in conjunction with each other.

Energy-saving Benchmarking also provides a way of comparing the efficiency of a church, before and after a project such as for new heating or lighting, reordering or an extension.

It’s important not to stifle growth – to make sure of the best results – so that a church becomes more not less economical as a result of developments and improvements.

‘Apples and oranges’

Like apples and oranges, grapes and melons, churches come in all shapes and sizes. They have many uses – worship, community uses, public concerts, pre-schools, crypt cafés – as well as vestries and offices. These may share the same space, some or all of the time.

Some churches are used mainly for Sunday services, others very intensively, open 24/7.

Churches use energy in different ways. A few still burn oil; most gain their heat from gas – sometimes all or part from electricity. Gas may be used in kitchens. Electricity is used for lighting, for sound systems and computers. All these different factors are taken into consideration.

Electricity and fossil fuels

We aim to become more efficient in the energy we use, the fuel we burn, and the carbon emissions these generate.

Oil and gas are taken together as ‘fossil fuels’. They are burned on site, whereas electricity is delivered from the grid having been generated elsewhere – the carbon emissions are in the power station, but we should still take responsibility for our share.

We also take account of the increasing number of churches generating their own electricity from Solar panels, and renewable heat eg from Heat pumps. See Climate Action Projects and Generating your own energy.

Water and waste

A church’s water consumption, waste production and recycling can now also be measured and benchmarked by Energy-saving Benchmarking. They also make a contribution to a church’s carbon footprint.


Data was first input for the 66 churches in London studied in Environmental Audits. Then data from the Generic Building Solutions segment of the Diocese’s Climate Action Programme was also input.

In 2017, Energy-saving Benchmarking was used to support Cloudesley’s programme of audits to 24 churches in Islington. All 24 churches were benchmarked using Energy-saving Benchmarking.

Benchmarking Survey Form

This programme employs its own dedicated Benchmarking Survey Form.

The form tabulates a church’s size, activities and energy use.

You can download the Survey Form for energy and carbon from the foot of this page. You can fill it up using Microsoft Excel, or ask for a paper version.

Under ‘Energy use within the Church’, select fuels such as gas or oil, depending which your church has. In other tables, enter your own figures under the example entries (which aren’t used in the calculations). There are buttons to add extra lines if needed.

Please return the form by email, or address any queries, to Head of Environment and Sustainability.

A quick questionnaire is also available for water and waste, and can be supplied on request.

Benchmark and grades

Each church is assigned its own benchmark or standard for energy consumption, based on its size and how the church is used. After comparing its actual energy use, A to G bands are worked out for energy and carbon emissions, and water and waste.

Then the level of activity in the church is taken into consideration – the numbers attending services and other events and for how many hours per year. This leads to a final A to G band for overall efficiency.

A certificate is produced for each church to display on its notice board.


Including all the results from audits and from completed forms, nearly 140 churches in the Diocese have now input their details and taken part in Energy-saving Benchmarking.

Across the Diocese, we are making rapid progress on reducing our oil and gas use, but little if any progress on saving electricity. This seems surprising, considering more and more lighting is low-energy. It seems more electricity is being used for heat than before, and also for AV systems, IT and much more.

Your benchmarking certificate will diagnose where your church needs to make the most savings.

We also need to make much more progress in relation to water and waste. See Conserving water and Waste collection and recycling.

Rickaby Thompson Associates

Rickaby Thompson Associates designed and have supported the Diocese of London’s Energy-saving Benchmarking scheme. Aardvark EM developed the questionnaire for water and waste.


For more information and to take part in Energy-saving Benchmarking, contact the Head of Environment and Sustainability.


Energy-saving benchmarking survey form  Download  

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