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Last updated 27th February 2023

Church Buildings and Reaching Net Zero

Advice and Guidance to assist parishes to meet Net-Zero Carbon by 2030

As good stewards of our church buildings, all PCCs should now consider the environmental impact of any changes to our buildings and churchyard. Below is some information to help parishes who wish to work towards Net-Zero or mitigate against environmental harm.


Energy Audits

Energy audits are surveys of a church and buildings which examines a range of different ways that a PCC can improve its energy efficiency. After the audit, the PCC will be presented with a report recommending ways it can reduce its energy usage and carbon output. This may be in the form of small changes such as the use of timers or changing energy supplier or larger improvements to heating or lighting. An energy audit can provide a useful starting point for PCCs who have a desire to reach Net-Zero but do not know where to begin.

Parish buying offers an energy audit through its partner Energy Basket. More information on audits and costs can be found here.

Church Heating

Church heating is the main cause of carbon output for most churches in the diocese. From the 1st July 2022, changes in legislation has made it easier for churches to install non-fossil fuel boilers and heating systems and more complex to install a heating system that uses gas or oil. Some of these changes include:

  • All PCCs are now required to have due regard to the Net-Zero advice issued by the Church Buildings Council before it replaces a heating system or boiler.
  • PCCs will need to undertake a feasibility study before a church heating system is replaced to prove that it has considered all options. 
  • All gas or oil boilers now require a faculty to install, regardless of whether it is a straightforward swap.

The Net-Zero guidance from the Church Buildings Council can be found here. A heating checklist in Word format can be downloaded here.

The DAC Heating Adviser is always willing to contact churches and offer advice on any proposals for heating schemes and boilers. Please contact Jen Read, Senior Church Buildings Officer for more details.

Photovoltaic Panels (solar)

Photovoltaic or solar panels are just one option for churches looking to reduce energy bills and produce green energy. Here are some guidance documents for churches considering fitting PV panels on their church building:

  • Advice from the Church Buildings Council can be found here
  • Advice from Historic England can be found here.
  • The CofE Enviroment Team runs webinars on all aspects of reaching net zero, including PV panels here.

Other helpful advice for church buildings and Net-Zero

  • The Parish Buying site has created a page of resources for churches to help them achieve net zero. More details here.
  • The Eco Church site contains many guidance documents on different works to churches.
  • The Church Buildings Council offers a range of guidance notes to help parishes to achieve Net-Zero, including advice on electric vehicle changing points, solar panels and LED lighting.
  • The Church of England Environmental Team offers a range of webinars on all aspects of Carbon Net Zero options for church buildings. 
  • Useful online resources to support environmental action can be found here.
  • A Practical Path to Net Zero can be found here.  A checklist can be found here.