St George’s leads the way in slaying the carbon dragon

AFTER seven years of hard work St George the Martyr in Newbury is to become one of the first carbon neutral churches in the UK.IMG_9957

Of 16,000 CofE churches, St George’s is set to become one of the first to install and use a ground source heat pump, drawing heat from under the ground and eliminating the need for a gas boiler to heat the church. The Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Andrew Proud, joined in the drilling for the pump. Watch a video of Bishop Andrew and Paul talking about the drilling here:

The ambitious project was launched in November 2009 by the Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton and the Nobel laureate, Sir John Houghton. Back then the church had a gas guzzling and failing heating system. The building also had problems with damp and no disabled access to the main entrance.

The Revd Paul Cowan, the Vicar, says: “We had a beautiful building that was underused, undervalued and unfit purpose. It is now available for the community for events and concerts and with no set hire rates, it makes the building available to everyone.”

Since then more than £1m has been raised, 40 per cent by the church congregation and 60 per cent from external funders. And the solar panels and GSHP mean St George’s can generate income via the Government’s tariffs for the next 20 years.

“We are planning to use some of that income to support other charities and projects,” says Paul.

The project is of national and international relevance as it comes just months after the Paris climate talks in December 2015, when world leaders agreed to keep global warming to Two Degrees Celcius, pursue renewable energy and provide £100 billion in climate finance for developing counties.

The project has included:

The five phases of work at St George’s has included:

  • Installing 129 solar panels
  • Connection to grid to supply green electricity
  • Secondary glazing to clerestory windows
  • New insulated barrel vault ceiling
  • New thermal entrance lobby with automatic doors
  • Insulation of north and south transept ceilings
  • Old floor taken up and underground insulation installed
  • New stone floor in the church with under floor heating
  • Old gas boiler replaced with modern efficient gas boiler
  • Glazing of north transept area to create a new meeting room / thermal lobby
  • Installation of Open Loop, Ground Source Heat Pump system
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