Friday, 26 February 2010

Is Climate Change really happening?

Stop Climate Chaos have sent this information about ways to counter the negative coverage about climate change.

Over the past few months, there has been a huge amount of coverage about climate change in the media. Unfortunately a great deal of this has not presented a balanced view of the climate change debate and has reportedly damaged public perceptions about whether or not climate change is really happening, is the scientific evidence credible etc.

One simple thing which the coalition has identified we can easily do is to ask our members and supporters to get involved by responding to relevant articles in the press.

We have put together some web pages with information about how to respond to an article, countering common arguments etc:

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Earth be Glad. Programme of St John's Church Edinburgh

We have been showcasing examples of different wasy of being an eco-congregation. here is the contribution of Ben Murray from St John's Church, Edinburgh.

Almost three years ago, a group of volunteers within St John’s Church developed a programme entitled Earth be Glad. At its heart was an online carbon monitoring tool that enabled users to log in and enter their gas and electricity meter readings, in the hope that this simple action would stimulate a greater awareness of home energy use and encourage more energy efficient behaviour. Early results were promising, with significant reductions in the average user’s energy consumption.

But this pilot project struggled to attract more than a fairly small minority of the congregation, and St Johns secured financial support from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund in order to develop the project further. In addition to setting up an improved website and online carbon monitoring tool, the project will work with partner organisations (including Changeworks and the Energy Saving Trust) to provide advice and resources to help members cut their carbon footprints. It is hoped that the project will be able to engage with a significant proportion of the St John’s congregation and ultimately be rolled out within other faith communities.

The development of Earth be Glad is being led by Ben Murray and assisted by Eleanor Harris, who was involved in the original pilot project and has been a member of St John’s Church for some years. Ben has worked as a marine engineer on nuclear submarines, an environmental activist and campaigner with Greenpeace and as a parliamentary policy advisor for the Scottish Green Party. Eleanor was previously co-ordinator of Eco-Congregation Scotland and is web editor for European Christian Environmental Network .

More blog posts will follow over the coming months as the project is developed.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

FAQS for Eco-Congregation Scotland

The Eco-Congregation Scotland website has recently updated its FAQS section. Have a look in order to get answers to all of those questions that have been nagging you about climate change.

Monday, 22 February 2010

GROW Greyfriars Recycling of Wood

Eco-Congregation Scotland is very happy to announce GROW - Greyfriars Recycling of Wood - as its new supplier for Eco-Congregation Award Plaques.

As part of the Greyfriars Church Community Centre, based in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, GROW is an emerging social enterprise that seeks to create new employment opportunities for long term homeless with addiction and mental health problems. It brings together homeless service users and volunteers from the local community in common purpose: producing high quality saleable goods made from recycled wood, generally discarded church pews, that generate pride in production and profit from sales that is re-invested in the support and development of the trainees. The quality of goods produced demonstrates the ability of people who are generally devalued and the process of making things of beauty and value from what has been discarded as worthless is itself a message to the wider community. Recycling is just one way of ensuring that we make the most of what we have and do not over consume and use up or discard our valuable resources of both people and things. GROW is a small sign of an alternative imagination in which people and things that are deemed of little value can be transformed into things of beauty that bring satisfaction both to the people who own the products and those who have made them.

The first new award plaque was presented to South Leith Parish Church on Sunday, 21 February 2010 during their Sunday service.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Eco congregation's updated modules

Just a wee note to point out that the Eco-Congregation Scotland website has now the newly updated editions of modules 2 and 13.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Radnor Park Church – Heating System

Radnor Park Church Clydebank has reduced their carbon footprint from 41.14 tons of C02 a year to 6.43 tons by joining a district heating system. They used the carbon calculator provided by Eco Congregation scotland to determine their carbon footprint. In the words of S.W. Cameron, the church treasurer,
the experiment has been an unqualified success both environmentally and financially.

This initiated a few years ago when Clydebank Housing Association applied for planning permission to build a Combined Head and Power plant (CHP) adjacent to our Church. The plant was designed to produce electricity and useable heat which would be connected to what is known as a district heating system for the seven blocks of flats close to the Church.

I suppose it was fortuitous that I am chief engineer in a company called Doosan Babcock who design and construct major power plants. I recognised that there was potential for the Church heating to be connected to their outlet pipes and I contacted the Engineering Contractor of the plant to discuss the possibility.

The electricity production part of the CHP plant is relatively conventional in that steam is produced in a boiler to drive a steam turbine which in turn drives a generator. The steam at the outlet from the turbine has to be condensed to liquid so that it can be pumped back to the boiler inlet and the concept is to use water from the ‘district heating’ system as a coolant and at the same time the condensing steam heats up the district cooling water to around 100-120°C. From the layout drawings submitted with the planning application I estimated that there was probably ‘surplus’ heat in the system and we would effectively increase the efficiency of the CHP plant if we could connect into it.

The initial assessment concluded that it was feasible and the Contractor agreed to run a pipe from the CHP plant to the Church boundary whilst we investigated the requirements in detail and obtained quotes for the purchase and installation of the equipment.

The plant was designed to supply domestic heating and we had to determine whether it could also provide heating for the church building and four halls. We worked with the contactor to specify a heat exchanger connected to the district heating ‘ring main’ and connect the outlet from it to our heating system, bypassing the existing oil boiler. At the same time we didn’t want to fully disconnect the oil heating arrangement in case we had problems in the future. Fitting control valves and bypass valves made it a more complicated but it has been very successful although we are at the ‘end of the line’ of the district heating system and whilst this has not been a problem it meant that bthe church heating was a little cooler during the recent cold spell due to the people in the flats having their heating on full.

I must admit that the original driver was cost saving in that we were paying around £7,000 per annum for oil and the estimated cost of connecting to the district heating system was around £3,000 per annum. The capital cost of the heat exchanger and the installation was £11,000 so we reckoned we would get ‘payback’ in 3-4 years. As it happens the tariff has been substantially less than the estimate because we are taking the surplus heat and it has been difficult to measure the flow and temperature. As such we have already recovered the initial capital cost.

Installing the heat exchange system has reduced our carbon footprint dramatically since the oil fired boiler was probably the least ‘carbon friendly’ system you could get. There are obviously emissions from the CHP plant which I do not have the figures for but plants of this type have an efficiency of around 70% compared to 40% for conventional plant and it is claimed that they have the lowest carbon footprint of any heating system. Since we are taking surplus heat which would be generated in any case if we did not have the connection I would claim that we now have zero emissions from the Church heating system

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Words from the Rev. Tofiga Falan from Tuvalu

Adrian Shaw, Climate Change Officer at the Church and Society Council was kind enough to provide us with the following link to an interview given by the Reverend Tofiga Falan explaining the situation as his country tries to cope with the effects of climate change. Rev. Falan also speaks of his disspointment at results of the Copenhaguen conference.

Please follow the link to read the full length article.