What have our groups achieved?

The Scottish Episcopal Church is gathering to talk about many things this week, including their Net Zero plans. So we’re reflecting on what their groups achieved when they took on our programme.

Every project needs to stop occasionally and ask itself: what have we achieved? It’s a major undertaking to do this kind of assessment across all the HeatHack groups, and we don’t always have full information especially from the early groups about the plans they’ve made, even though we know some are already working with professionals and funders to act on their retrofit plans. We’ll probably never have the “gold standard” proof of reduced energy use – our buildings struggle to get smart meters, and part of the programme is considering whether the building should be used more by the local community, which clouds the picture. But the yearly “General Synod” of the Scottish Episcopal Church is a good time to reflect specifically on what we achieved with their congregations before passing their version of the programme over to them for them to administer “in-house”.

Here’s our reckoning:

  • 5 churches completed workshops, and 16 more are either partway through, considering the full programme, or using parts of it or the online materials. 
  • Tailored advice given to people from 13 churches, ranging from stonework restoration to remediate damp to changes of heating technology and insulation and better control of heating and electrics.
  • Temperature and relativity humidity monitoring provided for 12 churches, with 7 successfully getting data and 5 still to complete setup (we’re prioritising making this much easier – there are new cheap commercial options coming on the market).   The monitoring almost always identifies a need either for new heating controls or for changings in the settings to save fuel, where an expected 25% reduction appears to be common.
  • 3 churches are confident they will have reduced energy for heating from better heating control by October; 3 more know they need new controls and are working out what to get.  6 more are now also monitoring their temperature and relative humidity in preparation to checking their controls are appropriate and set up correctly.  Yes, decarbonisation is our ultimate aim, but sometimes it will take long enough that it’s worth doing this meanwhile.
  • 3 churches are planning changes to counter draughts, as a major cause of discomfort.
  • Several churches understand the benefits of radiant heating for low occupancy or draughty spaces, but need to see recent installations with modern panels or chandeliers before proceeding.
  • 4 churches are considering whether they can do major insulation works.
  • 1 church is now using the programme to look at a house they own, and another is considering trying it on a building they have an interest in nearby.
  • 2 churches report they have corrected H&S issues because of the programme.  Other “side benefits” have been better comfort and better wifi coverage – an unexpected result of getting the thermal monitoring going.

It’s hard for churches to do things quickly – we think this is pretty good progress as one prong of their Net Zero Action Plan, and should reap benefits for the planet and their communities in future years. We’re looking forward to providing whatever support the SEC finds useful as they learn what works for them.

Image by WOKANDAPIX from Pixabay