Warming and Greening our Churches
A pioneering conference on making South West churches more energy efficient was held in Exeter.
Eighty participants attended the ‘Warm, Affordable and Green’ conference held at the re-ordered St Stephen’s Church in the High Street.
Churches are encouraged to carry out energy audits or benchmarking to determine both the use of their buildings and also energy demands, with a view to making more efficiencies in the future. The new national energy- measuring scheme aims to grade our churches like fridges and to improve each year from F towards A ratings.
Information was shared about greater energy savings with practical measures such as draught excluders, or secondary glazing to roof insulation and more efficient boilers.
Examples were cited of using renewable energy such as solar electricity to provide power for the church, burning wood pellets or wood chips from local sources, and drawing on heat from the ground. New electric heating ideas were exchanged such as the Infra-back Light Heating at St. Stephen’s itself to the use of ultra efficient convectors which produce and circulate effective warm air currents, with heat stored in ceramic plates.
Those present heard that the regional project EcoChurch SouthWest has successfully installed more than 200 solar panel schemes on church properties in Devon, Gloucestershire and Somerset. Churches in Cornwall and the Cotswolds are seen as amongst the first carbon-neutral in the country.
Speakers included Kate Symonds from the Archbishop’s Council, who said, “It is encouraging that so many churches are now becoming engaged in measuring their energy use with a view to reducing their demands.”
Kirsty Tooke from the Devon Association for Renewable Energy (DARE) referred to energy studies for local churches that help them better understand their impacts and therefore change their behaviour.
Martyn Goss, Exeter Diocesan Environment Officer said, “Bringing together those interested in better church heating and sharing good ideas has inspired us to take further steps to greening our churches and, in the longer term to make financial savings. If we can reduce carbon, we can save energy and therefore save money, and still provide more comfortable churches for future generations”.
Further details of the conference and its follow-up can be found on www.exeterstf.org.uk