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Bradford Cathedral holds Eco Congregation status – the first cathedral in the north of England to receive this prestigious award. A dedicated team of staff and volunteers has worked to improve the carbon footprint of not only the Cathedral itself but the Close homes, and also encouraged the congregation to look at what they can do in their own homes.
Encouraged by The Church of England’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 42 per cent by 2020, the Cathedral has instigated wide ranging initiatives including the installation of Green Cones and Composters, and having the Council supply bins for recycling glass, tin and paper: supplies wherever possible are FairTrade and milk is now delivered by a local milkman in glass bottles thus reducing the use of plastic containers and supporting a local supplier: sermons often include reference to humankind’s responsibility to look after our world and its resources. Canon Andrew Williams, who has led the initiative said, “We are thrilled! Gaining this award seals a three-year process of examining carefully our use of natural resources and energy then changing our practice in over 20 different ways. But the hard work continues. In the next phase we will aim to share good eco-practice with neighbouring churches and partner organisations.
Just over a year ago Bradford Cathedral received permission from the CFCE (Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England) and English Heritage to install solar photo voltaic cells. Following planning permission being granted by Bradford Council, the installation of 42 pv panels by Sundog Energy was completed by the end of August 2011. These panels are installed on the entire South Aisle roof – making it the first cathedral in the country, and possibly in the world, to generate its own power. Cathedral architect Ulrike Knox, of Knox-McConnell Architects in Saltaire, led the project through the permissions process for this historic heritage building.
Since obtaining Eco-congregation status – the first Northern cathedral to achieve the award – the move towards solar generated electricity was the next logical step. Canon Andrew Williams, who leads the Cathedral’s Eco Group, said “We have been working hard over the past five years, not only to become more sustainable ourselves, but to encourage members of our congregation to work hard in their own homes and work places to do the same. We’ve changed all our light bulbs, introduced recycling and composting, and installed efficient boilers. We also run a Fairtrade stall every Sunday morning. We’re delighted to be the first cathedral to be installing PV cells on our roof. Whilst it would be naive of us to say that the financial benefits are not important, a key reason for doing this is to reduce our carbon footprint. A 2006 report by the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology has calculated a carbon footprint of less than 60g per kW from PV in the UK, compared to 10 times as much for fossil fuels. More recent research suggests that the total greenhouse gas emission for electricity from PV panel is between 20 and 80g CO2 under UK conditions. This is ten times lower than the emissions for electricity from fossil fuels whilst electricity from coal can be as high as 1000g/kW. The net ecological benefit of PV Cells is not contested. Results of research vary between six months and two and a half years as to the CO2 recovery- in other words the CO2 used in manufacturing the cells is paid back at least within the first three years of its use. As production increases with the high demand for panels, the ‘payback’ time goes down. At present it would be safe to state that the PV Cells pay back their CO2 emissions in two years in good conditions”.