After visiting Sefton Road United Reformed Church, environmental expert Martin Trouse of Derwent Environmental Consultancy compiled a report on how both short and longer-term improvements might be made to the 112 year-old stone building and its adjoining hall.
The report highlighted the ways in which work being led by property steward Jeff Senior and the church committee was already making a positive difference to the way in which energy was used in the buildings.
And it also outlined different areas in which changes to either the management of the building or its physical layout could build on this work in the future.
The cost of the energy audit was funded by renewable energy firm Banks Renewables, which is the company looking to build the proposed £7.5m Banks Heysham South wind farm on agricultural land to the south of the A683.
If the wind farm is approved, a related benefits fund worth at least £10,000 per annum would enable Banks to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people, and could be used to help fund improvements to local public buildings such as the church and hall.
In addition to this, Banks Renewables has pledged to provide an investment of around £50,000 to set up a new Warm Zone scheme across the Lancaster area in partnership with the Warm Zones community interest company, with a view to improving the energy efficiency of the housing in the area, and thus tackling fuel poverty.
The introduction of the Warm Zone scheme would create a number of new jobs in the area, including doorstep assessors and administrative positions, and local contractors could also look to bid for the installation work required for the recommended energy efficiency measures.
Martin Trouse says: “Energy efficiency is a perennial problem in buildings of this age and type, but it was impressive to see the work that the church has already done to get the best outcomes that they can in the situation.
“Taking a proactive approach to assessing the usage patterns of any type of building, and introducing simple measures like ensuring lights are turned off when they’re not needed, fitting energy efficient lighting and adding draft strips to doors can easily lead to a 20 per cent saving in the amount of energy used.
“Making any structural changes that would help improve the church and hall’s energy efficiency would obviously require a degree of investment, but we’ve highlighted changes that could be made to allow for them to plan for the future and to see what the outcome would be of undertaking work such as improving heat distribution or adding new insulation.”
Dot Armstrong of the Sefton Road Methodist Church committee adds: “Both the church and hall are well used by our community for everything from toddler groups to OAPs meetings, so we need to ensure we make our facilities as welcoming as we can.
“We know that our rather elderly boiler system is not up to modern standards, and that we can’t partition the heating that runs off it to warm up just some parts of the church, rather than the whole building, but we’ve put a lot of work into running things as efficiently as we can and it’s nice to see the work that our caretaker has done in this area being recognised.
“The report has given us some new ideas for how we can keep make further improvements, and what sort of projects we might look at in the long-term to make even more of an impact on our energy use and the costs that come with it.”
The Heysham South wind farm would be able to produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of around 4,200 homes, and would prevent the release of around 8,475 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year that would occur through the production of the same amount of energy by non-renewable means.
Between ten and fifty people would be employed on the site at any one time during the site preparation and construction phases of the project.
Local firms will also be able to tender for a range of contracts relating to the project, including ‘balance of plant’ work required for the scheme’s construction, and other aspects such as materials supply, catering, accommodation and security.
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “Making the best use of the energy that we use is something that we all need to address, and the church committee has clearly already done a great deal to run their premises as efficiently as possible, so we hope this energy audit has given them new inspiration and ideas for the future.
“If our wind farm plans are approved, we will be able to provide substantial new funding for community improvements which would have a positive impact on the area for decades to come, and would work in partnership with residents and groups to ensure that this funding went towards supporting local priorities.”
Anyone who would like more information on the Heysham South proposals can contact the Banks community team on 0191 378 6100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org