Church assesses carbon footprint ahead of World Environment Day

By staff writers
June 4, 2007

The Church of England will celebrate the first anniversary of its Shrinking the Footprint campaign tomorrow, the 5th June, World Environment Day 2007.

World Environment Day sets out to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment. The Church’s campaign, based upon practical locally based initiatives supported by information promoting best practice, is set to move up a gear as it moves into its second year, says the Church's media office.

A year-long audit of energy use in church buildings in parishes throughout England has drawn to a close and the accumulated data is being studied. This will provide a significant benchmark as a basis for measuring the success of the Church’s campaign going forward.

Alexander Nicoll, a member of the Church’s national Shrinking the Footprint campaign team, underlined the importance of partnership working as essential to the campaign’s success.

"The Church has signed an agreement to work with the Carbon Trust on an initial scoping study to better understand the energy uses of the whole Church and will decide whether to enter into a more substantial partnership with the Carbon Trust subsequently, as part of the Church’s long-term commitment to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint to 40% of current levels by 2050 – 'The 40% Church'" he said.

Much is happening in parishes throughout England to ensure that the practical aspects of the Shrinking the Footprint campaign both take root and grow.

St John the Baptist, Ermine, Lincoln is a 1963 grade 2* listed church regarded nationally as one of the most important liturgical buildings created in the 1960s. Despite its location on a 1950s housing estate, the third most deprived ward in Lincoln, it attracts a number of tourists as part of the Lincoln Churches tourism trail. The church is a concrete and glass construction and is not only very expensive to heat but is also very inefficient as any heat generated is quickly dispersed.

Encouraged by the awareness raised through the Shrinking the footprint campaign, the Bishop has pledged half the £2000 needed for a feasibility study and the Conservation Foundation, working closely with the Church’s Shrinking the Footprint team, are prepared to match this with a Parish Pump Priming Award. This is a national ‘pilot’ scheme, which will hopefully provide valuable information for a number of ‘modern’ churches built in the 60s who have energy-use issues just as much as older buildings.

The Church’s campaign moves into its second year with much activity taking place on the ground promoted by local people supported by a network of Diocesan Environment Officers and co-ordinated by a small team drawn from staff of the Archbishops’ Council.

In addition to the campaign’s activities in England, the diocese in Europe is also planning to carry out church audits and has recently appointed its own Diocesan Environment Officer. All Church buildings are subject to scrutiny and other initiatives are being pushed to drive change and improve the whole Church’s impact upon the environment and enable it to 'walk more lightly' upon the earth.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.