Listed Norman church goes 'zero-carbon'

A listed Norman church in Gloucestershire has undergone a green makeover to turn it into the UK's first ‘zero-carbon’ church, it has been announced.

The Grade I listed church of St Michael and All Angels in Withington had solar panels installed on the roof and a biomass boiler fitted to provide the building's electricity and heat.

Before the renewable technology was put in efforts were made to make the church, which dates back to 1140, more energy efficient, including cutting electricity demand by 40 per cent by adjusting the lighting.

Parishioner Matt Fulford, who managed the project on a pro bono basis with the backing of his employer, built asset consultancy EC Harris, said: "We have sought to demonstrate what is possible within existing buildings and how they can positively contribute to the zero-carbon agenda. The test was whether this could be done within the tight constraints of a Grade I listed historic building and with the limited financial means of the church.

"By doing this, and being able to provide the church with an environmentally and economically sustainable position for the future, we have clearly shown the opportunities that exist for all by truly embracing the sustainable future."

Some 90 per cent of the £43,000 cost of the project was financed through grants secured by Fulford, with the church meeting the remaining cost in order to ensure it could benefit from green subsidies paid to organisations generating electricity from small scale renewables such as solar panels.

The completion of the project will be celebrated with a service at the church on November 21 by the Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Rev John Went.

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