Church Energy Efficiency Conference

The Trust For Oxfordshires Environment (TOE2) and the Dicoese of Oxford invite you to a day conference exploring how we can make our churches warmer, more welcoming and cost less to run.

Building on the Church Energy Audits Project with TOE2 and Sustain, the day will look at how churches can do their own energy audits and make their own action plans, as well as expert content on:

  • electricity use – covering billing, procurement, efficient lighting.
  • heating systems – how to make your system more efficient, and how to answer the ‘heating on all the time, or only when occupied’ dilemma?
  • renewable technologies for churches – what renewable technologies are suitable for churches?
  • what will the DAC allow?
  • funding – how can you raise the money for your project?

There will be specific issue clinics over lunch so that you can get answers to your particular questions.

We will be joined by staff from Sustain, the DAC Secretary and other experts.

The venue will be St Thomas of Canterbury Church in Goring, which was lovingly repaired, extended and refurbished in 2009. It is light and airy, with a breathable limestone floor with underfloor central heating – and given the use of sustainable materials, such as, blown recycled glass, sheep’s wool insulation, PEFC sourced European Oak and lime render for the facade, it will make an ideal venue for our gathering.

Date: Saturday 4th October 2014
Time: 10.15am – 4pm
Location: St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Goring

– Tickets are free but spaces are limited and registration is essential –

Full details at:


Swifts and churches

Swifts nest under the eaves of St Etheldreda’s Church Horley.

Swifts nest under the eaves of St Etheldreda’s Church Horley.

Swift numbers in Britain have decreased by up to 40% in the last 20 years. There are several likely reasons for this, but one is the loss of nest sites. Swifts return to the same nest hole every year, and so when buildings need repair or are demolished, nest sites can be lost. Also, almost without exception modern buildings do not have the gaps and crevices which are essential for Swifts to nest. So largely it is older, less well-sealed buildings with a few gaps under the eaves or tiles or in the pointing, which are favoured by Swifts – like some of our churches.

We are trying to encourage people to notice Swifts and where they are nesting. If local people know where the nest sites are, it’s easier to look after them, and to encourage Swift-friendly building work.

This is as relevant to churches as to other buildings, because churches are still important nesting places for Swifts. There are at least 10 churches in the Cherwell District which have nesting Swifts.

Swifts nesting in a church can easily go unnoticed. Parties of screaming Swifts may be obvious, but they are extremely adept at entering their nest holes; add the facts that nests are not visible from the outside and that Swifts leave no mess, and it’s not surprising that the nests are often overlooked.

There are several ways in which parishioners, PCCs and church authorities can help.

One is by being alert to the possibility that Swifts may be using the church for nesting.  Screaming parties of Swifts seen regularly near the church, are an indication that they are nesting in the building or very close by.

In the period when Swifts are actually nesting, the nest hole it is illegal to disturb it. The same applies to all birds. At other times the ideal solution is to leave the particular space alone if at all possible. If this cannot be done, advice should be obtained about Swift-friendly building work and about providing alternatives (see below*).

Also if Swifts are found to be using the church for nesting or if screaming parties are seen nearby, it may be possible to install a nest box behind the louvred windows in the tower. This would need the support of the PCC and approval from the Diocese, but it is relatively cheap and simple to do, and it does not involve drilling into the masonry. It has been successfully done in several churches in Cambridgeshire and local churches in Oxfordshire are now following their example.

The Cherwell Swifts Conservation Project has these aims:

  • to protect Swifts’ nesting places
  • to encourage the creation of more nest places and
  • to raise awareness of the reasons for Swifts’ declining population and what people can do about it

*For more information see the following websites:

or in Oxfordshire contact Chris Mason (

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 or visit

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 (, 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. |

Photo: St. Peters Church by JonoTakesPhotos, on Flickr

SuperHome Open Days – September 2013

Visit the UK homes most improved for energy use

SuperHome Open Days this September let you get the inside story on some exceptional home improvement projects. These are older homes refurbished by their owners to be amongst the most energy efficient older homes in the UK. In every SuperHome you can learn about a range of installed technologies. Tours and Q&A sessions let you quiz the owners on specifics. You’ll discover what worked and get frank feedback on anything that didn’t. If your goal is increased home comfort, reduced energy bills or a smaller carbon footprint, a visit is sure to inspire.

Entry is free.

Book now at

Energy monitoring scheme

The Diocese of Oxford has been giving churches access to the national Shrinking the Footprint Energy monitoring scheme since 2012. The energy monitoring aims to build a better understanding of our energy usage and total carbon footprint so we can support energy saving actions and meet our commitment to protecting God’s creation.

The scheme, which was piloted in the Diocese of Oxford in 2012, gives all CofE churches and schools in the diocese the opportunity to use, for free, energy monitoring software that will help track and reduce energy use.

Funding for the national ran out at the end of 2013. However, thanks to support from Low Carbon Oxford, churches in the Diocese of Oxford will still be able to use the software throughout 2014, when we hope national funding will be available to develop the scheme further nationally .

For further details and to sign up for the scheme visit the diocesan website.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Historic Buildings Seminar – 17 May 2012

This intensive seminar will provide delegates with advice for improving the energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of historic buildings with reference to recent energy reduction works to the front Quadrangle at All Souls College, Oxford, built in 1438.

Subjects covered:

• Assessing problems & opportunities for carbon reduction in historic buildings

• Creating an energy model & testing options for carbon savings

• How to satisfy the conservation officer

• Techniques for surveying & analysing heat loss in historic structures

• The do’s and dont’s of improving energy efficiency

• What you can reasonably expect to achieve

• Lessons learned – A clients perspective

Speakers: Dr Sarah Beaver – All Souls College, Nick Worlledge – Oxford City Council, Philip Waddy – West Waddy ADP, Willem Postema – RSK Building Services and Sebastian Fielding – Vector Design Consultancy Limited

Date: Thursday 17 May 2012

Timing: 4:00 – 4:30pm Registration, tea and coffee (Saskatchewan Room); 4:30 – 6:30pm Seminar (Saskatchewan Room); 6:30 – 7:00pm Drinks, canapes and networking (Rector’s Drawing Room)

Venue: Exeter College, Oxford

Charge: £25 per person inc VAT to cover costs

Click here to download the registration form (PDF)


Visit a retro-fitted energy efficient house – March 2012

Pioneering owners of some of the UK’s most energy efficient houses will be hosting free open days during SuperHomes Week between Saturday 17th March and Sunday 25th March 2012.

SuperHomes are older homes that have been refurbished to the highest standards of energy efficiency – resulting in greater comfort, significantly lower running costs and a reduction in carbon emissions of at least 60%.

The houses showcase a range of home improvements. For example many will be super-insulated so visitors with draughty old solid wall properties will discover some clever ways to make their home more comfortable in winter. In many cases renewable energy heats water, provides electricity or contributes to space heating. You will also find the latest in low energy lighting on display.

Attending an open day provides the opportunity to speak to a homeowner who has already done the thinking and undertaken and lived with some major improvements. Who could be better qualified to help you make the right choices?

Ther are lots of SuperHomes in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. You’ll find them on the SuperHomes Locator Map.

For more information, or to book to attend an open day, visit