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What can my church do?

There are plenty of responses churches can make to demonstrate care for creation and concern about our environmental crises.

Churches throughout the diocese are caring for creation and responding to our current environmental crises in many different ways, including through the Eco church scheme and developing paths to reach carbon net zero by 2030 in line with the goal of the Church of England as a whole.

On this page you will find resources to support churches to care for creation and to respond to pressing issues such as global warming, loss of biodiversity, and pollution. This includes thinking about worship and teaching, getting started on your church’s Eco journey, reducing your church’s carbon footprint and thinking a bit wider about engagement with your local and global community.

If you want to talk to someone about your church's next steps, contact your Deanery Environmental Advocate, or if your deanery does not have an environmental advocate yet, contact the Diocesan Environmental Officer, Rev. Sandra Eldridge.

Worship and Theology

Theology and worship underpin practical efforts to address our current environmental crises. The Church of England recognises that care for creation - God’s earth, it’s life and its creatures, including ourselves - is central to its theology and mission. The Church's understanding of contemporary mission is summarised in its five marks of mission. The fifth mark states that we will “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”.

Throughout the year there are specific Sundays and seasons when your church may wish to focus its worship and teaching on creation. These including the Season of Creation, Harvest, Environment Sunday, Rogation Sunday and many others. 

You can find resources for these Sundays and seasons, alongside resources to help your church to embed creation and the environment more fully in its worship throughout the year, and resources to facilitate reflection on theology and the environment, on our diocesan environment pages on worship and theology.

  • Questions about worship and theology to ask in your church

    How often does your church use hymns, songs, prayers related to creation?

    How often does preaching and teaching about creation and the environment take place, including in any youth work, and small groups? 

    Positive answers to these questions will help your church to start thinking about an Eco church award.

Getting started with Eco Church

The Eco Church scheme is a great way for churches to become more environmentally sustainable. It is designed to equip churches to express their care for God’s world in worship and teaching; in how they look after their buildings and land; in how they engage with their local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of their congregations. Thousands of churches, including many in our Diocese, have joined this scheme. It provides a fun and holistic way of bringing people together to look at the church's environmental credentials and making the church more environmentally sustainable.

Churches complete a questionnaire relating to the different aspects of church life listed above. Find out how Eco church works here. It is very easy to register. The scheme is run by A Rocha who provide a wealth of resources to support churches.

Once your church has agreed to be part of Eco Church it is very easy to register.

The "Questions to ask in your church" on this webpage are related to the Eco Church questionnaire so will help your church to get started with Eco Church. If you have made some progress with these questions, you may want to contact your deanery environmental advocate to talk with them about next steps or, if your deanery does not yet have a deanery advocate, you could contact the Diocesan Environmental Officer, Rev. Sandra Eldridge.  

You can also watch a Church of England video on getting started with Eco Church below.

  • Questions about environmental leadership to ask in your church

    Has the leadership in your church made a formal commitment to considering the environment more in its life and worship?

    Has your church established a group or individual to champion your church community becoming more environmentally sustainable?

    Positive answers to these question will help your church to start thinking about an Eco church award.

Getting started - understanding net zero carbon and tracking progress 

The major environmental crisis we face is global warming. The main reason for global warming is the emission of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide. As part of its commitment to creation, the Church of England has committed to reach net zero carbon by 2030. But what does net zero carbon mean and how does the Church know whether it is on track?

The Energy Saving Trust explains what net zero carbon means. 

The Church of England has developed a Routemap to reach net zero carbon by 2030. For the Church as a whole, and this Dioese, to track progress on reaching net zero carbon, data on carbon footprints of all buildings the Church has responsibility for (churches, church halls, offices, voluntary aided church schools) - and of work-related travel - are needed. The more complete these data are the more accurately progress can be tracked. 

The Energy Footprint Tool

Carbon footprints of churches are collected annually through the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT). 

  • Completing the Energy Footprint Tool

    It is a good idea to have a designated person whose job it is to complete the tool every year. This could be anyone. It does not need to be the Vicar, the treasurer, the churchwardens!

    To complete your Energy Footprint Tool you will need your church's utility bills for the relevant year (if you are completing the tool in 2024 you will need the bills for 2023). You will also need an estimate of the age of your heating system. 

    If you have solar panels, you will need information on their generation over the preceding year.   

    If you have a separate church hall you will need to enter the data for this too. If you want to exclude an area which is permanently rented out to tenants and sub-metered, you will want this information to hand.   

    To enter data into the Energy Footprint Tool login to Parish Returns

    If you have trouble logging in contact the Diocesan statistics team

    You can find a video explaining how to complete the Energy Footprint Tool here.

Completing the Energy Footprint Tool is also an essential element of Eco church and a basis for starting to think about reducing your church’s carbon footprint.

Watch a Church of England Video on the Energy Footprint Tool: 

Getting started - green energy tariffs

We all need to reduce our carbon footprints. The carbon footprint of most churches is dominated by the use of fossil fuels in heating. Moving away from using fossil fuels is one way to reduce carbon footprints. If your church is not able to do that immediately its carbon footprint can be reduced in the meantime by using green or renewable energy tariffs.

A green tariff means that some or all of the electricity you buy is 'matched' by purchases of renewable energy that your energy supplier makes on your behalf.

  • Switching to a green tariff

    If your church purchases energy from Parish Buying, they offer a renewable tariff for electricity, but not for gas.

    If you want to purchase a package of energy similar to that offered by Parish Buying but ensure that both electricity and gas come from renewable sources, you can also try Green Journey. This church-focused company gets all its energy from renewable sources rather than offering an option for renewable energy. 

    Quite a few churches in the Diocese also now get their energy supplied by other green energy companies. The three best-known and well respected are Octopus, Ecotricity and Good Energy.

    This Which? webpage is useful for understanding green tariffs and comparing the green credentials of different energy suppliers.  

    Each year churches that complete the Church of England's Energy Footprint Tool (see section above on this page) receive an assessment of both their ‘gross’ and  ‘net’ carbon footprints. The gross figure represents all the energy a church has used, whilst the net figure deducts any electricity or gas which is either generated on-site or purchased from a 100% green tariff meeting certain criteria which you can find on this webpage. You need to scroll down to the question "Which green energy providers count for EFT purposes?"

  • A question about green tariffs to ask your church

    Is the electricity and gas (if used) supplied to your church premises generated from renewable resources or do you use a green tariff?

    A positive answer to this question will help your church to start thinking about an Eco church award.

Getting started - reducing, reusing and recycling

"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is a phrase often used in relation to becoming more environmentally friendly. This website explains what it means.

You can think about reducing reusing and recycling anything that your church regularly throws away, for example, printed paper and disposable cups and plates.

  • Questions to ask your church about reducing, re-using and recycling

    If your church uses disposable cups and plates, are they recyclable? Or better still, does your church rarely or never use disposable cups and plates?

    Does your church use recyled paper? 

    Are recycling facilities available on church premises?

    Positive answers to these questions will help your church to start thinking about an Eco church award.

Getting started - church-yards

Not every church has a church-yard but if your church does, it is a great place to start thinking about how to care for God's creation. 

Organisations such as Caring for God's Acre have some great resources, alongside the resources that A Rocha provide. 

  • Questions about the church-yard to ask your church

    Does your church encourage native wildlife in the church-yard?

    Does your church encourage wildflowers in the church-yard?

    Does your church encourage plants that benefit birds and bees in the church-yard?

    Does your church avoid using harmful chemicals (pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer) except on paths and driveways?

    Does your church encourage church members to use church land for recreation and contemplation (eg picnics/prayer)?

    Positive answers to these questions will help your church to start thinking about an Eco church award.

Planning to reduce your church's carbon footprint

The Church of England has developed a wide range of resources to support churches in reducing their carbon footprints; a two-page practical path to net zero for churches to use; and a searchable bank of case-studies to illustrate the steps that churches throughout the country have taken to reduce their carbon footprints.  

Different churches will plan to reduce their carbon footprints in different ways. Plans may depend on how much your church (and hall) are used; what they are used for and when; and the types of buildings. For most churches an energy audit is an important start. This is an inspection survey and analysis of energy in a building. It may include recomendations to reduce energy use, while seeking to maintain appropraite levels of heating and lighting. 

Energy Audits

What low cost steps could your church take to reduce its energy bills? Are solar panels an option for your church? If you heat your church with gas or another fossil fuel source, how can you move to a renewable source? If you are asking these sorts of questions an energy audit is a good place to start.

An energy audit is an assessment of your Church's energy use with recommendations and advice on the main energy and cost savings you could make as you move towards carbon net zero. The audit identifies steps you could take, starting with free and inexpensive changes such as closing doors, turning down thermostats and adding draft excluders, through to big investments such as obtaining renewable heat sources. For more detail about what these steps might entail, see the Church of Engand resources above.

  • Obtaining an energy audit

    You will need to choose a company to do your audit. The rough cost of an audit is around £500. 

    At the moment Parish Buying are offering subsidised audits. A subsidy of £175 on each audit is being paid by the Church of England, so that the current cost is £275+VAT.  

    Green Journey are a company similar to Parish Buying that provide an energy basket for churches but use fully green energy. They also do energy audits. 

    You can also get an energy audit from Inspired Efficiency, a company dedicated to helping organisations reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

    Once you have decided on a company to do the audit you will need to give them some information about your buildings, your utlity bills and how the buildings are used.

    The company will come and do an inspection and provide you with a report that identifies all the actions you can take and puts them in order of priority.  


Solar panels

Church of England Guidance on installing solar panels  

Watch a short video about the installation of solar panels on York Minster.

Watch a Church of England video about solar panels. 

Electric vehicle charging points 

If you are thinking about installing electric charging points at your church, the Church of England has some general advice here. This includes links to further reading and webinars.

For more information or to report anything wrong with this page please contact Revd Sandra Eldridge