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Letter to the Editor: Church reduces carbon footprint

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Dear Editor,

Holy Trinity, the church at the top of the town, next to the hospital in Stroud has recently undertaken major changes to its heating and lighting.

It is the first step to reducing their carbon emissions, which started by ditching the gas fuelled boiler that ran a wet central heating system through archaic pipes and radiators.

The installation of their new, innovative all-electric arrangement, has immediately shrunk their carbon footprint.

In 2020 the Church of England set a goal to achieve net-zero by 2030 and the
PCC of Holy Trinity church not only embraced that challenge, but were
determined to be ahead of the game.

To begin with, advice was taken from the Sustainability Officer at Gloucester
Diocese and, with his encouragement, previous traditional views on how to
keep a church warm and comfortable took a radical turn. By thinking
differently, it became clear that modern technologies offer alternative ways
and the idea of heating the people not the church became the objective.
Insulating the under croft to stop draughts coming up through the floorboards
was the first tactic.

Then it was decided to adopt three different electric heating technologies, all designed to be efficient and cost-effective for use in a traditional church building.

The result has transformed the heating system, providing a fit for purpose,
flexible solution. The congregation will be kept warm by under-pew convection heaters mounted directly beneath their seats; the eight infrared panel heaters installed overhead below the gallery provides an inviting, cosy entrance and at the front of church a bespoke Halo far infrared heater that looks like a sleek, contemporary chandelier, hangs above the minister and choir.

All these elements can be zoned to cater for varying sizes of assemblies
and the heat is almost instant at the flick of a switch, with no waste residual
heat left heating an empty building after an event. Benefits will include savings
in both running costs as well as for the environment.

A legacy left by a former Treasurer to the church; Malcolm Tarling, was the
catalyst to explore ways in how to make a lasting difference to Holy Trinity
church and the focus on committing to becoming net zero seemed the right
and proper approach. Before the heating re-ordering Holy Trinity was among
the top 20 carbon emitters in the Gloucester Diocese, a disreputable fact the
PCC are more than happy to shake off.

In the summer of 2023 Falconer, & Gilbert Scott Architects took the vision and
turned it into a plan of action, although there was still a funding gap to fill.

Fortunately, three grant funding bodies who viewed the scheme deemed it
worthy of their support and it is important to say that without their financial
backing the scheme would not have been possible. The people of Holy Trinity
give grateful thanks to The Congregational and General Charitable Trust for
their allocation of £15,000; the Garfield Weston Foundation for awarding
£10,000 and The Benefact Trust who granted £3,900.

Thanks also go out to the congregation and visitors to Holy Trinity who have
continued to come to church services and concerts throughout the refurbishment, which regrettably took place over two of the colder months of
the year, so hats, gloves and scarves were appropriate dress on a few occasions.

However, this staunch determination is not in vain as the assurance
of a comfortable church, efficiently managed at low cost to the environment
will be the reward.

The folk at Holy Trinity church would be more than happy to share their
experience of this project and welcome enquiries from other churches, or
groups wishing to explore alternative ways heating which is environmentally
friendly. Holy Trinity is one of nine churches within the Stroud Team and
contact can be made via this website: https://stroudparishchurches.org.uk

Mrs Jai Carr,

Treasurer, PCC Holy Trinity

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