Below, you can explore the kinds of changes that can help your church cut its carbon footprint. Choosing the right actions for your church will help meet the prophetic call from General Synod for all parts of the Church to be ‘net zero carbon’ by 2030.
The two diagrams show you a wide menu from which to choose. 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.
Outside the net zero carbon church
Inside the net zero carbon church
The Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon
Find our short guidance note which summarises all the key actions you can take, the “Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Church Buildings”.
A great first step is to complete our self-guided checklist of your church against the 'Practical Path':
- this version is designed to be printed out and completed in writing, and
- this version is designed to be completed onscreen, with interactive tick-able boxes, and then saved.
Below you can watch the webinar associated with this guidance:
Embodied carbon is the carbon associated with the material extraction, transport, manufacture and installation of a product. Whilst embodied carbon is not in scope of the Church of England’s net zero carbon target until after 2030, churches can take action now, and it is important to consider when carrying out maintenance and renovations to further aid emissions reduction.
More details, including guidance on reducing embodied carbon for both small and large projects can be found on our Embodied Carbon page.
Does it need permission?
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 and repair, and replacing lamps with more efficient ones. For changes that require some new installations, maybe better heating controls, installing a bike rack, or repairs to the building, permission will be needed from the Archdeacon.
If a step you wish to make will make a change to the character of the building a faculty will be needed. 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, planning permission is often needed.
If you are unsure if permission will be needed please ask your Archdeacon or DAC Secretary. Full information about the faculty system and specific detail of what does or does not need permission is here.
Faculty changes (2022) and key guidance
The Faculty Jurisdiction Amendment Rules 2022, coming into effect July 2022, require churches to have due regard to the Church Building Council's advice on Net Zero Carbon, for those proposals where it applies.
For these Rules, 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.
Webinars, advice and support
There is a range of advice and support available to help you on your journey towards being a ‘net zero carbon church’.
People to speak to:
- Contact your own inspecting architect.
- Get advice on your building from your local DAC Secretary. Many dioceses have a sustainability or heating advisor who can give you free advice. If you don’t have their contact details, search online using the name of your Diocese and “DAC Secretary”.
- Find your local Diocesan Environment Officer.
- At a national level, contact Catherine Ross, who leads on environmental matters for the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division
Online Church of England resources:
- To calculate your church’s carbon footprint there are two tools available. Start with the simple Energy Footprint Tool. This only takes a few minutes and lets you calculate the carbon footprint from your use of electricity, oil and gas. Then, if you are keen and want to go further, use 360Carbon to calculate the whole carbon footprint of energy, transport, food, and purchases.
- Find our net zero carbon webinar programme, with a wide range of relevant topics.
- Read case studies of churches who have made changes.
- Find neighbouring churches who have installed renewables like solar PV and heat pumps.
- Commission an energy audit of your church.
- Find our funding guide (scroll down to number 4).
Key resources on buildings and energy efficiency from external organisations:
- Historic England – energy efficiency.
- Historic England – building services.
- Society of the Protection of Ancient Buildings.