Net zero carbon 2030: churches and churchyards

Energy Footprint Tool – complete the 2024 EFT by 31st July

  • The Church of England's Energy Footprint Tool (EFT) is now open for parishes to enter their 2023 utility bills and find out their 'carbon footprint'
  • The EFT is available to all churches using the Online Parish Returns System, and remains open until 31st July 2024

In February 2020, General Synod recognised the climate emergency and voted to set a target for the whole Church of England of achieving 'net zero' carbon by 2030.

This commitment requires us all to take action to reduce our carbon footprint. This will involve making material changes to our buildings and adopting new behaviours that both reduce our energy use and switch usage to renewable sources.

The Lichfield Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) supports the goal for all church buildings in the diocese to achieve 'net zero' by 2030.

Case studies and webinars

As a starting point to the subject, PCCs may wish to consult the following up-to-date Church of England resources:

Net zero carbon church

No one church could, or should, do everything. Every church is unique and the right combination of actions for your church will need careful consideration. Some are quick wins, others will need careful planning, expert advice, and fundraising.
Net zero carbon church

To explore the kinds of changes that can help your church cut its carbon footprint, the Church of England has developed a dedicated web page on the net zero carbon church. It is recommended that parishes visit this online hub at any early stage, which includes:

  • interactive diagrams
  • links to guidance
  • net zero webinar recordings
  • case studies

The hub page also includes key resources on buildings and energy efficiency from external organisations, including Historic England, and A Rocha UK's Eco Church.

Church of England Routemap

With the Routemap, we see a future in 2030 where the buildings of the Church will be warm, bright and welcoming, powered by renewable energy and using low or zero carbon technologies for heat and light... To meet Synod's target, our focus needs to be on reducing the energy use of our buildings.
Routemap to Net Zero Carbon by 2030

The Church of England has undertaken extensive consultation with dioceses and other stakeholders on a Routemap to Net Zero Carbon by 2030, which details how this national target can be reached. The final (post-consultation) version of the Routemap was endorsed by General Synod in July 2022.

The Routemap includes milestones for church buildings, which are recommended to be undertaken by parishes by specific years between 2022–30, including early and ongoing participation in the Church of England's Energy Footprint Tool, to measure each church's individual carbon footprint.

Calculating your carbon footprint

The Energy Footprint Tool allows all churches around the country to enter their utility bills and find out their 'carbon footprint'.
Energy Footprint Tool

To calculate your church's carbon footprint there are two tools available. Start with the Church of England's simple Energy Footprint Tool (EFT). The EFT is available to all churches using the Online Parish Returns System. It is now open for parishes to enter their 2023 utility bills, and will remain open until 31st July 2024.

The EFT only takes a few minutes and lets you calculate the carbon footprint from your use of electricity, oil and gas. One of its great benefits is that once you have entered your data and clicked to confirm, it will display an immediate report and results.

Then, if you are keen and want to go further, use 360°carbon by Climate Stewards to calculate the whole carbon footprint of energy, transport, food and purchases.

Taking the practical path

These recommendations aim to help churches reduce their energy use and associated carbon emissions. They are based on the findings of our church energy audit programme and input from of a range of professionals in the field.
Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Churches

The Church of England has also published a 'practical path' to net zero carbon for churches, setting out where most churches should start, and more advanced projects for churches who use more energy.

The recommendations in this short, two-page guidance note aim to summarise how churches can reduce their energy use and associated carbon emissions.

A great first step for your church is to complete the self-guided checklist, against all the steps in the Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Churches guidance note.

Once you have finished your review, discuss the results in your PCC and agree next steps. The completed checklist will also be a useful attachment for future faculty applications.

Permissions for changes

Many of the suggestions require faculty; please seek input early on. If the church interior is of historic, artistic, architectural or artistic interest, seek professional and DAC advice first, before making changes; stabilising the environment for these interiors is important to minimise cycles of treatment, with their inherent carbon cost.
Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Churches

In February 2022, General Synod approved new legislation to help parishes meet carbon-reduction targets.

The path to net zero has many steps, and a lot of them are things that you can just do, without needing permission or discussion with anyone outside the PCC or church. As a general rule, permission is not needed for any steps that are about using existing installations more efficiently, keeping ahead of maintenance, or replacing bulbs with more efficient ones.

For changes that require some new installations, maybe better heating controls, installing a bike rack, or repairs to the building, List B permission will be needed from the Archdeacon. Parishes can apply for permission through an online application via the Online Faculty System (OFS). Please do not request permission from the Archdeacon direct, as List B approval can only be granted through the OFS.

If a step you wish to make will make a change to the character of the building, a faculty will be required, which is also made online via the OFS. This will include things like loft and roof insulation, secondary or double glazing, permanent subdivision or new rooms within the church, and heating and lighting schemes that replace existing ones.

If a step you wish to make changes the outside appearance, such as solar panels or EV car charging posts, separate planning permission is often needed.

Faculty changes (2022) and key guidance

If the proposal involves a matter to which net zero guidance applies, the proposal must include an explanation of how the applicants, in formulating the proposal, have had due regard to that guidance.
Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2022

The Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2022, which came into effect in July 2022, require parishes and the DAC to have 'due regard' to guidance on net zero carbon issued by the Church of England's Church Buildings Council (CBC), for those proposals where it applies. This requirement is applicable to both List B and faculty schemes.

For these Rules, the CBC has directed that the following key pieces of guidance must be given due regard when relevant to your proposal:

These links are specific to particular types of proposals, and only the relevant guidance needs to be taken into account.

The Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Churches is included in the guidance and this must be given due regard for all proposals, as it provides the context to show that the proposal is part of a wider understanding by the parish of its route to net zero carbon.

Separately, the CBC has jointly published with the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association (EASA) two sustainability and net zero carbon 'best practice' notes on:

This guidance should also be given due consideration by architects and surveyors conducting quinquennial inspections and planning new projects in churches.

Getting help...

If you have any queries regarding permission types, please contact the respective case officer:

List B:
Helen Cook, Assistant DAC Secretary
01543 221155

Giles Standing, DAC Secretary
01543 221152

Page last updated: Monday 22nd July 2024 11:55 AM
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