Regular maintenance on church buildings can help reduce their carbon footprint

In February 2020, the Church of England’s General Synod set an ambitious target to urgently reduce carbon emissions and work towards net zero by 2030. Our church buildings will have a part to play in this. Many of them have stood for centuries and already embody significant amounts of carbon. With the construction industry being one of the UK’s biggest carbon emitters, it is worth remembering that the greenest building is the one that is already there.

Since 2020 a suite of advice and guidance has been developed to help parishes identify what actions they can take. Some of these are small changes, with minimal or no cost, and are easy to implement. Others will take time, planning and significant funding. But with so much new information available, where do you start? 
By far the most useful tool is the ‘Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Church Buildings’. This sets out a series of recommendations and suggestions for you to consider. It is worth drawing particular attention to the very first set of actions as a relatively simple and easy way to make a quick impact. Put simply, regular cyclical maintenance will help you to reduce your carbon footprint. 
1.   Maintain the roof and gutters, to prevent damp entering the building and warm air escaping. (Damp air takes more energy to warm up, and damp walls conduct heat away quicker than dry ones. We all know that heating makes up the bulk of energy use in our church buildings).

2.   Fix any broken windowpanes* and make sure opening windows shut tightly, to reduce heat loss. (Problematic draughts can contribute to significant heat loss, and while ventilation in buildings is important, it is equally important that you are in control of that ventilation).

3.   Insulate around heating pipes to direct heat where you want it; this may allow other sources of heat to be reduced in this area.

4.   If draughts from doors are problematic, draught-proof the gaps* or consider putting up a door-curtain*.

5.   Consider using rugs/floor-coverings (with breathable backings) and cushions on/around the pews/chairs. 
* If interiors are of historic, architectural or artistic interest, seek professional & DAC advice 
If you have any questions, concerns or just want to have a chat about caring for your church building - whether old or modern - please contact

Jon Breckon - Historic Churches Support Officer - 07732 894457

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