In recent years, there has been increasing awareness of the effects of climate change and the need for urgent action. In February 2020, the Church of England’s General Synod recognised this as a crisis for God’s creation and set an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions and work towards net zero by 2030.
Church buildings have a part to play in reaching this target. One of the more obvious and impactful changes would be to move away from carbon fuels for heating, but that will need careful assessment, planning and funding. However, there are many simple tasks you can do regardless, often with wider benefits for both building and those using it. Setting up a maintenance regime or plan is one of the most important steps you can take.
The Church of England’s Church Buildings Division has a useful guide called the ‘Practical Path to Net Zero Carbon for Church Buildings’. This sets out a series of recommendations and suggestions, with the first set of actions forming a relatively simple and easy way to make a quick impact. This advice includes the basic principles of regular cyclical maintenance. In particular, clearing gutters of leaf fall, moss or other detritus will help prevent blockages and damp ingress. Remember – a damp church will be colder and therefore use more energy to keep warm. The biggest threat to the church building fabric is water ingress.
What is a maintenance plan?
This is a simple and user-friendly list of items to help monitor, check or attend to each month. The Diocese of Peterborough has some templates and guidance available here on the website.
Repair or maintenance?
Repairs are works needed to address damage or decay. Maintenance is about staving off or slowing down the rate of decay, and includes trying to spot problems early!
Is there any help available?
Yes! The Historic Churches Support Officer is always happy to visit and meet with individuals or groups of any church to talk to you about the principles of maintenance, draft a maintenance plan with you, and advise on any aspect of caring for your building.
For some minor maintenance works, such as fixing leaking gutters, or replacing broken glazing, you may be able to get a small grant towards the cost of the work. Have a look at the ‘Maintenance Booker’ website for details.
Finally, the Diocese of Peterborough has recently secured a modest sum of money from the Buildings for Mission Fund. Our scheme will focus on ‘keeping buildings dry’, such as small-scale discrete repairs to defective rainwater goods, patching roof leaks and other urgent related to address water ingress. For details about the scheme and the funding conditions, please contact Jon Breckon.
Jon Breckon, Historic Churches Support Officer