Church energy audit scheme launched

St. Peters Church

  • Does your church struggle to keep the heat in your building during the chilly winter months?

  • Would you like the building to be warmer, more welcoming AND cost less money to run?

The Diocese of Oxford and the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2) have developed a grant scheme to provide churches with expert energy efficiency advice tailored to their building, aiming to help PCCs to save money and run buildings more sustainably.

The scheme is restricted to 24 churches in Oxfordshire, and churches are invited to apply for the first round of the grant scheme by the end of October 2013.

“This scheme is such good news! Increasing energy efficiency in church buildings can seem a daunting project. We need to juggle the different comfort levels for a variety of users with the historic nature of our buildings, whilst keeping costs down.

“Now, thanks to this joint scheme, we can offer churches in Oxfordshire access to expert advice, tailored to their buildings and use, which will make them more comfortable and energy efficient, and reduce not just the carbon footprints of our church buildings, but also energy bills.”

Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher

Further information

* Update – Nov 2013: The scheme is now full and we are currently closed to new applications. Register an interest by contacting TOE2 and the Diocesan Environment Officer, using the details below, and we will alert you when the scheme re-opens for new applications. *

The scheme is adminstered by TOE2. To apply complete the application form and return it to Fiona Danks at TOE2.

For further information contact Fiona Danks at TOE2 on 01865 883488 (Wed and Thurs only), email toe@oxonrcc.org.uk or visit www.trustforoxfordshire.org.uk.

To discuss audit options for churches outside Oxon contact Matt Freer, the Diocesan Environment Officer.

How the scheme works

The scheme will provide a grant towards the cost of an energy audit that will be carried out by qualified staff from Sustain (www.sustain.co.uk), who will make a site visit and then write a report with detailed recommendations of ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

Sustain is a carbon reduction company which advises on practical ways to reduce energy and carbon emissions. They have extensive experience of carrying out  energy audits on a wide range of buildings and have particular experience of working with listed buildings and historic places of worship. Sustain will work with the DAC to ensure recommendations are in line with current guidelines.

The total cost of each audit is £660. The available grant is £540 – and so the church is asked to provide the balance of £120.

In the case of very small churches (Electoral Roll below 30) an additional subsidy will be given by the Diocese of Oxford to halve the cost (ie the church only pay £60).

Following an audit, churches may apply to TOE2 for a grant of up to £5,000 to support any of the recommended improvement works.

> Printable version of this information

This grant scheme has been made possible thanks to the support of: the Patsy Wood Trust, the Beatrice Laing Trust and Charlie Laing.

www.oxford.anglican.org/environment | www.trustforoxfordshire.org.uk

Photo: St. Peters Church by JonoTakesPhotos, on Flickr

New £10m Government green fund – churches urged to apply!

The Church of England has welcomed the Government announcement of a new £10 million Local Energy Assessment Fund which gives community groups, including churches, a chance to bid for money.

The new Fund, announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, DECC, will provide grants for around 200 community organisations, including churches, to undertake energy efficiency projects and renewable energy generation in their area.

David Shreeve, the Church of England’s national environment adviser, said, “It is good news that DECC consider churches and other faith groups as vital parts of the local community. The deadline for application and delivery is tight but many churches are currently considering ways of harnessing renewable energy for their buildings and this may just be the spur they need.

“A recent communication I received from 10 Downing St stressed the Prime Minister’s recognition that Church assets often sit at the heart of the community Shrinking the Footprint the Church of England’s national environment campaign, provides advice and toolkits for the local church as it rolls out vital green community projects as part of its ministry and mission.”

There is around £50,000 available for each successful community to be used to help assess the potential for energy efficiency and local renewable energy generation and get things started in their area. This is a short-term scheme where work will need to be completed by end of March 2012.

Interested communities can apply via the Energy Saving Trust and money will be allocated in two rounds. The first round closes at noon on 22 December 2011 with successful applicants notified in the week beginning 9 January 2012. The second round will close to applications at noon on 20 January 2012 with successful communities notified at the end January.

Full details about the scheme can be found at www.greencommunitiescc.org.uk

You may also find help and advice on this, and other funding, at the new Oxfordshire based Low Carbon Hub: www.lowcarbonhub.org

Help a trail-blazing school go solar this Christmas!

Amy Cameron from the carbon cutting organisation 10:10 shares in this post how some schools in the Diocese of Oxford are trail-blazing a funding model that may be one of few ways community buildings can install solar in the future, and how you can help!

10:10, the carbon cutting organisation, began in 2009 with the aim of helping businesses, organisations and individuals reduce their emissions by 10% in a single year. Our plan was to inspire and motivate people towards a change that was fast, achievable and meaningful. Since we launched, over 125,000 individuals have pledged to cut their carbon in over 42 countries, alongside 6000 businesses, 3000 organisations and over 2500 schools, universities and colleges.

The results of our sign-ups to date have been impressive, with everyone from Tottenham Hotspurs cutting 14% to the British Embassy in Beijing cutting 48%, but we’re always looking for new ways to get people acting on climate change. That’s why, this September, we launched Solar Schools, a groundbreaking project to save energy, help schools, build communities and, most importantly, enable thousands of people to engage positively with renewable energy.

The idea, in a nutshell, is to help schools across the country generate their own solar energy by raising the cost of panels from the local community. Each school gets its own webpage, populated with empty solar panels. Family, neighbours, friends, local businesses and ex-pupils sponsor segments of panel by buying vouchers or donating online. The whole scheme lives and breathes community interaction, with pictures and messages of support left by donors.

Recently, it’s been difficult to avoid stories about chaos in the solar industry.  With the government making rapid cuts to Feed-in Tariffs, many projects have been left in the lurch. However, while we wait for a clear pathway to a sustainable future for the UK, the eight schools in the Solar Schools pilot continue to trail-blaze a model that may be one of few ways community buildings can install solar in the future.

The schools involved are based around the country – a hub of five in Reading, one in Cambridge, one in Norwich and one on the sunny Scilly Isles. They are working flat out to reach their targets and they would love your support! If you’d be interested in donating then please do head to www.solarschools.org.uk. You can also send friends and family a tile as a gift, ready to open on a specified date – a nice way to cut down on your Christmas card recycling this year! Plus, if any of the schools involved are in your area, they would love some hands-on support – they have lots of Solar Schools voucher booklets to sell and events to organise, and they need as many people to know about the project as possible – email hello@solarschools.org.uk  to find how you could get involved.

These schools are trying something new to become cleaner, greener places for children to learn, they would love your help to do it!

Amy Cameron is the Solar Schools co-ordinator at 10:10.

Feed-in-Tariff changes and your project?

We talked about the proposed changes to the government Feed-in-Tariff recently, but how are the changes affecting church based projects on the ground in the diocese? Share you experiences and responses here in the comments.

We are hearing of community solar PV projects that are now in serious financial jeopardy because of the proposed changes to the FiT and the short notice given. Blewbury Energy Initiative is advising, “those leading such projects to keep careful records of their documentation – especially bills and payments, as it is possible they may be able to reclaim expenditure committed before the DECC announcement on 31st October.”

Is your project in such a situation? Or have you shelved plans because of the proposed changes?

Please use the comments section below to share your experiences and how you are responding to the proposed changes, both so we know who is being affected and also to share with others ideas and resources of how to respond.

Also if you haven’t already signed the e-petition started by the CofE’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign, asking DECC to consider exempting not-for-profit group projects from the Feed-In Tariff reductions, please do consider doing so.

Vote for All Saints’ Wokingham

The Carbon Reduction Project at All Saints’ Church in Wokingham have made it to final of the energyshare Fund Vote! Up to £100,000 per group is up for grabs – and the ultimate winners will be decided entirely by public vote.

The Cornerstone is a community centre run by All Saints’ Church in Wokingham, and if they win they will install Solar PV panels on the roof, which through the Feed-in-Tariff  will generate a reliable long-term income stream to support the work of the centre.

There are three categories you can vote in: small, medium, and  large. All Saints’ Church in Wokingham is in the small category. We also understand that Andrew France, a vicar from the North East, who is orgnaising the entry of Earsdon Renewable Energy in the medium category would welcome your votes too!

Everyone who votes will be entered into a daily draw to win River Cottage Veg books and British Gas home efficiency packs.

Get voting at www.energyshare.com/voting/

Read more about the story behind the Carbon Reduction Project at All Saints’ Wokingham in our case study.

Heritage Angel Awards

Are you involved in rescuing a historic place? If so, tell English Heritage about your work and you could be voted one of English Heritage’s 2011 Heritage Angels.

The English Heritage Angel Awards launched this year to celebrate the work of individuals and groups who have saved a significant historic place that was at risk of being lost forever. The closing date for entries is 12 August 2011.

There will be four annual awards for:

  • the best rescue or repair of a place of worship
  • the best rescue of an industrial building or site
  • the best craftsmanship employed on a heritage rescue
  • the best rescue of any other entry on the Heritage at Risk register.

Four projects will be shortlisted for each category and the people involved will be invited to meet Andrew Lloyd Webber and the other judges at a reception at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End. The reception will take place in the Autumn where the winners will be presented with a statuette in the form of an angel.

For further inforamtion visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/heritage-at-risk/English-Heritage-Angel-Awards/

Green Flag Community Award

The Green Flag Community Award is given to community sites which display high standards of maintenance, management and community involvement, and are managed by the community. Woodlands, allotments, churchyards and public gardens have all been winners.

Could your church community be eligible to apply?

BTCV, Keep Britain Tidy and GreenSpace are supporting groups and local people to apply for the award – and can help groups through all stages of the application process, advising on eligibility, application and judging.

For more information contact Nina Sperinck (n.sperinck@btcv.org.uk OR 01296 330 033) – and visit here and here.