Shrinking the footprint

I monitor both my churches energy use and I my own on a regular basis by the means of spreadsheets and meter readings.  Obviously I do mine myself (every week on a Sunday evening).  The churches’ are sent to me about every two weeks, although they are taken every week.  The spreadsheets I use are different for each.  For my own personal use I utilise the one developed by the Centre for alternative technology (CAT) for their ZeroCarbonBritain project.

In the 1970’s the Centre for alternative technology produced an energy report (this is still available somewhere on line).  Its remarkable how accurate some of their projections in this report are on for example, wind.  The ZeroCarbonBritain project is an update on this (a much longer and more detailed one).  The report is aimed at tackling climate change and peak oil simultaneously in the UK and assumes a carbon ration (something we cover in “No oil in the lamp”).  As part of this a number of volunteers were asked to fill in their energy use and send it back to CAT once a year.  Each year the amount of carbon we had to “live in” was reduced.  For some reason CAT stopped sending me new sheets but I’ve carried on using it and extended its capabilities a bit.  It this we recommend using in “No oil in the lamp”.  But I’ve forgotten to ask permission to put it up on this site and having been reminded by this post will attempt to do so.  For church energy use I developed my own simpler spreadsheet (not involving travel or journeys).

The advantage of monitoring is it gives you a baseline and something to work from.  You can also spot trends and look for spikes in energy usage for example if something is left on (more likely in a church situation).  The disadvantage (more from a church situation) is that you are always playing catchup.  Also I’m not on the staff so never quite know what the usage of the building is.  Our main building is used as a conference venue for Christian conferences, businesses and charities (as well as our own uses such as a very large parent and toddler group).  In winter, early spring and Autumn this does require heating the main building.  In 2011 we cut our gas use by about 30% in 2012 it increased but was still less than 2010.  Much of this use is due the building being used more.  What I have found is that there is no apparent pattern to the energy usage. Even in the buildings used as church offices the pattern of consumption fluctuates widely.  Its not even weather related.

The Church of England has a national environmental campaign called “Shrinking the Footprint”.  Their Facebook page is one of our likes on our Facebook page.  They are starting a campaign the aims are;

Church members are being encouraged to use January’s freezing temperatures as a starting point for monitoring their building’s energy useage, as part of the Shrinking the Footprint national energy audit, using sMeasure.

The free, easy to use toolkit from Shrinking the Footprint, the CofE’s national environmental campaign, enables all church buildings – historic and modern – to understand and reduce energy use and costs along with cutting their carbon footprint

Once 20 buildings in a diocese are taking part a diocesan peer group will be created on the website. This will allow the diocese to track energy use and

identify buildings that require additional support“.

It sounds a good idea and the Facebook page has some videos with some useful tips in them.  For Anglicans reading this I would encourage you to consider taking part.  Others can still find some ideas and suggestions present in their resources.  After all as we write in our book the price of energy is going to go only one way.

Neil

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One Response to Shrinking the footprint

  1. Jean says:

    I do our meter readings, and our history of reduction pretty much matches. My tuppence worth of experience – get the meter readings started whether you have time to look at them or not! Think whether there’s anyone friendly who walks past the meter smartphone in hand (musician, flower arranger, user, …) – frequent irregular readings even for a week at a time are really useful to supplement regular readings over a year. When you’re ready to look, it’s the stuff that gets hot that counts (that includes some lighting!), and you need to understand how that’s controlled and whether anyone can fiddle with it. And if the usage patterns are getting in the way of understanding the data but diary access raises privacy issues, many systems make busy/free access and data export easy to set up. For you I’m sure that’s all old hat, but I wish I’d known these things before I started!

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