Environmental sustainability


moss on a stone wall

It is thought that current worldwide carbon emissions must be cut by 80% just to restore the world's balance.

How we participate in meeting this challenge will lead to consequences for our children and grandchildren. All people and organisations must play their part.

Whether it is your day to day building management, or with regard to specific projects or repairs you should always consider if there is a more environmentally sustainable way to go about the work you want to do.

If you are applying for funding, be aware that all funders will take this into account.

Churches Trust for Cumbria: environmental sustainability

National Trust: conservation principles

Projects and support

There are a number of projects across the country, helping churches to ‘go green’, and all denominations have general advice about things to consider.

 The Joint Public Issues Team (made up of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church) have written guidance on church buildings of various sizes and ages can work to lower their carbon emissions.

Quakers in Britain have also written on sustainability.

Shrinking the footprint

The Church of England has set a target of producing net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The Church of England’s environment campaign contains information on their national campaign to encourage churches to reduce their carbon footprint. Its advice and guidance is equally relevant to all churches, chapels and meeting houses.

The website has lots of information about increasing the energy efficiency of your church, renewable technology and other environmental issues. There are toolkits and best practice case studies covering issues from heating, to boilers, from lighting to waste and recycling, and transport to renewable technology. See also their range of useful webinars.

They have produced guidance on developing a sustainable building project. It includes advice on how to offset the environmental impact of your project, considering renewable energy sources, and many more aspects to think about: 

The Church of England have produced an Energy Footprint Tool. This will tell your church of what your "carbon footprint" is, based on the energy you use to heat and light your buildings, and is available to all Church of England churches using the Online Parish Returns System

They have also set up the Parish Buying website which details national negotiated deals on everything from paperclips to photocopiers. It also includes a negotiated deal for 100% renewable energy tariffs. Your denomination may have done the same thing, it’s always worth asking.

Operation Noah

Operation Noah is an ecumenical charity providing leadership, focus and inspiration in response to the growing threat of catastrophic climate change. The website has a variety of free resources to use.

Operation Noah: home


SPAB has produced guidance on energy efficiency in a number of detailed technical guidance notes which complement those produced by Historic England and Historic Scotland. Topics include Breathability and Old Buildings, a briefing note Energy Efficiency in Old Buildings and Rafter Lever insulation. The SPAB also has a free technical advice line staffed by highly knowledgeable conservation professionals which is open to all: Telephone 020 7456 0916 (Monday - Friday 9.30am - 12.30pm.

Eco congregation

Eco-congregation is a tool to help all churches begin to address environmental issues.

The tool will help you to do a check up on your church, to find out what is already happening and draw up an action plan which can be discussed by your management committee. Once everyone is on board there is a registration fee to go further with the tool, but once registered you will have access to a huge number of resources to help you achieve your environmental goals, and keep pushing them further.

Eco Church England and Wales: home

Eco-Congregation Scotland: home

Eco-Congregation Ireland: home

Urban Tree Fund

Community and volunteer groups, town councils and individuals can apply for government funding for small scale tree planting projects in and around England’s towns and cities. It has been developed in response to HM Treasury releasing £10 million in the 2018 Autumn Budget announcement for planting at least 20,000 large trees and 110,000 small trees in urban areas in England.