When John Wesley set up the structures for the Methodist Church over 200 years ago, little would he have realised how useful they would be when it comes cutting the carbon. Circuits are registered charities representing groups of, on average, 14 Methodist Churches local to each other. Our District, with 15 circuits, has a total of 220 churches. Here we have sought to find out what Net Zero looks like in at least one church in almost every circuit in North and East Yorkshire to effect wider change as rapidly as possible.
Which churches would be most suitable for an early transition to Net Zero? We enlisted the help of Project Rome, a management consultancy, to answer that. They screened all churches within the District, shortlisting 40. Their work also yielded a defined, achievable target of Net Zero by 2040, to which the District committed to in 2020. Unsure of where to obtain feasibility funding, we picked up the phone to The North East and Yorkshire Energy Hub. Applications from two of our Circuits to the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) soon followed and funding was granted for Stage 1 (feasibility) projects covering a total of 36 churches in market towns and villages.
The 36 selected churches showcased a variety of building types, ages, sizes and settings. All however, were hubs for local community activities. Across the two RCEF projects three consultants, Locogen, D3 Associates and BHESCo, investigated the decarbonisation of our church buildings, each consultant bringing different specialisms, but all able to equip us to move forward with Net Zero. A key part of their task was to help us understand low carbon and renewable energy technologies and how they can be applied to our settings. Through the modelling work conducted through our RCEF projects we learned that the largest buildings were not necessarily the largest emitters of carbon dioxide. The range of annual emissions per church surprised us too; from 0.3 tonnes CO2 per annum to 37 tonnes. We now know where the greatest impact can be made.
We are delighted with what our consultants have achieved for us; we are most grateful to RCEF for enabling it to take place. We look forward to moving through the project development stage towards implementation of the viable schemes.
People were pleased to engage with the project. Particularly the uncertainties surrounding Covid, this project instilled a sense of hope and opportunity; a positive move towards a greener future.
We had hoped make contact with churches of all denominations who were further along the Net Zero journey than us, to learn from their experiences. In particular, we sought other churches who had installed heat pump solutions, but they were not easily found!
- Participating churches' interest in developing their projects towards implementation.
- Number of people attending project events.
- Number of people attending consultation events.