Championing net zero in churches across England

Man on St Peter Mancroft roof looking at solar panel

Championing net zero in churches across England

Published: 05 July 2024
More than 100 of the country’s highest carbon emitting churches will be given funding by the Church of England to run net zero projects. The ‘Demonstrator Churches’ will inspire churches all over the UK to act and reduce their own carbon emissions.
The £5.2M Demonstrator Churches project from the Church of England’s Net Zero Programme aims to help 114 churches in 2024 and 2025 pay for items such as solar panels, heat pumps, insulation, secondary glazing, LED lighting and infrared heating systems. Benefact Trust is supporting this project with a £1.5m strategic grant over the next two years.
As work progresses, the network of Demonstrator Churches - representing many different types of community and situations - will share what they have learned more widely with dioceses and parishes so that all churches can learn from their experiences. 
Abi Hiscock, Project and Grants Manager for the Church of England’s Net Zero Demonstrator Churches Project, said: “Ultimately, we want to demonstrate that with the right support and infrastructure, churches from diverse settings and facing a variety of challenges can reach net zero by 2030”. 
“By the end of this project, we will have over 100 case studies on what to do and when, and what not to do. Along the way, the supported churches are all required to act as champions to other churches in their dioceses or geographically near to them, or simply to other churches working from similar baselines to them, so that the learnings from these projects engage, influence and support this vision.”
It is hoped the project will reduce carbon emissions by 6,615 tonnes by 2030 – targeting some of the highest emitting churches across the UK. 
The Demonstrator Churches project is part of the Church of England’s ambitious Net Zero Carbon Programme which aims to equip, resource and support all parts of the Church to reduce carbon emissions from the energy used in its buildings, schools and through work-related transport by 2030.
One of the churches leading the way

St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich city centre is one of the first churches taking part in the Demonstrator Churches project.
Located in the marketplace in the heart of the medieval city of Norwich, St Peter Mancroft, is the largest of the city’s 31 surviving medieval parish churches.
The church has received a Church of England Demonstrator Churches grant of £50,000, with co-funding of £36,000 from Benefact Trust, to transform its carbon footprint and energy use by replacing its entire interior lighting system and installing heat pumps as well as batteries and 48 solar panels.
Through this work, the church expects to see an 84% reduction in emissions by saving 52.26 tonnes of CO2 each year.
The Rev’d Canon Edward Carter, the Vicar of St Peter Mancroft Church, has been instrumental in this project. Canon Edward said: “It’s so satisfying to see this project finally come to fruition. It is a comprehensive project to a Grade 1 listed church at a time when the net zero agenda is one of the Church of England’s top priorities. We are delighted to have been identified by the Diocese of Norwich as a demonstrator church project. The entire installation process is being filmed for use as a resource for other parishes who may want to be doing this themselves.”
Find out more about the church’s net zero work in this video:
The Demonstrator Churches project allows for churches nominated by their Diocesan Advisory Committees to apply for two grants from the Church of England’s Net Zero Carbon Programme. The grants are either Stage 1 (preparatory) to help develop a net zero project, along with hands-on fundraising support from expert charity consultants, or Stage 2 (capital works) as projects reach the implementation stage.
Benefact Trust’s funding is helping churches with Stage 2 capital grant funding over the next two years. St Peter Mancroft in Norwich and St Germain’s Church in Birmingham are the first two churches to be offered this funding, with more to follow as the year progresses.
*Images from St Peter Mancroft in Norwich 
Two people chatting about net zero project underneath church

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