The diocese of Oxford has announced plans to invest £10 million to cut the carbon footprint of its vicarages.
The investment is part of the diocesan Net Zero Housing Strategy, a project to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2035.
Over the past year, the diocese has surveyed 427 clergy houses to establish a carbon baseline. Solar panels have already been fitted to more than 50 properties. Now, the diocese plans to expand its greening of vicarages by improving energy and heating efficiency. It is also preparing for improvements in heat-pump technology.
Implementation of the project begins later this year. This will mean installing wall, floor, and roof insulation, and improving draught-proofing on windows and doors. By 2024, improvements such as solar panels and additional insulation will have been introduced. And, as heat-pump technology improves, fossil-fuel boilers will be replaced with heat pumps.
The Net Zero Housing Strategy will be paid for out of investment gains from the diocesan glebe portfolio rather than through the parish share.
The Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, said: “The target of limiting global warming to 1.5° is already slipping away from us. Society has only a limited time to act, but we should be in no doubt whatsoever that there is a strong and deep possibility of change if we act now.
“The Church of England can play a key part in the journey to net zero through example and leadership, but this must be through actions as well as through our words. This is a major investment by the diocese of Oxford towards achieving our net-zero carbon emissions target.
“The investment we are making is also vital to the credibility of our other environmental programmes. We hope that many others will take notice of such a major investment and the need to care for creation now.”