We are making a bid to a landfill trust for community building funds; they have asked about environmental issues and how we are addressing them.
THE landfill operators who are making grants (instead of paying tax) can contribute to several types of scheme. One of these streams is historic churches and community centres within ten miles of a landfill scheme. Within this umbrella, the landfill operators, often set up formally as trusts, establish their own patterns of contribution. Trust guidance can be researched on the website of Entrust (www.entrust.org.uk), the government agency with oversight of landfill grant schemes.
It may be worth getting a report from your architect on the environmental aspects of your building project. I went to the website of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and looked up its guidance on environmental issues and heritage building works, both for repair and new-build. Here is a summary of significant issues, which can be useful to any church, as there are plenty of minor and inexpensive adaptations an ordinary church can consider, other than just photo-voltaics on the roof.
Energy efficiency is a primary concern. Wherever possible, is there double glazing? How can you deal with draughts, especially from that draughty west door and missing window-panes? It may be difficult to install, but any roof repair and replacement work should consider the addition of insulation. Then consider whether your heating is set up to ensure that no empty spaces are being kept warm. With any planned new building, consideration of solar gain is good, using the sunlight when it is helpful, but protecting occupants from overheating in the summer.
Water on the roof is not always an enemy. Is there any potential for recycling rainwater, say, for flushing lavatories, thus saving on mains water? The latest types of taps can also prevent too much flow or waste.
Building materials should be locally sourced, or at least from the UK, to save on long-distance transport. Timber should be UK-grown. Also, plan to use materials with lower embodied energy; that is, they take less energy to produce and bring to site. There are churches with light fittings for which the bulbs have to be imported over long distances; again, it is not just the immediate financial cost, but also the carbon of long-distance transport.
Construction waste can be an issue for landfill; so a policy is needed for disposal. When topsoil is removed for new building, for example, it can be reused. For new landscaping, can subsoil be mixed with compost to produce new surfaces, rather than importing topsoil?
Paint and carpets give off chemicals, and natural oil- or water-based paints are preferable. Select carpets with care. That odd smell in new buildings is not always healthy. Consider photo-voltaic cells and other methods of producing sustainable energy and putting energy back into the national grid. There are often grants to help with the installation.
Finally, consider the habitats of species that may be disturbed by your works. As swallows and swifts are disappearing because their nesting places are gone, perhaps we should make them part of the design. “Even the swallow finds a place where she may lay her young.”