Alex Coppock

Alex gives talk at St Peter’s, Peterchurch as part of h.Energy week

by 8th Nov, 2013

View through building with people taking a yoga classView through building with people taking a yoga class

As part of h.Energy 2013, which ran between 12 and 20 October, Alex gave a talk about how St Peter’s, Peterchurch reduced its carbon footprint as part of the re-ordering.

The age of the building means that in some senses, St Peter’s already has a low carbon footprint. A new building typically takes 70 years to “payback” the carbon used in its construction. As a 12th century church, St Peter’s has already paid back its build carbon many times over. However, a reduction in the building’s carbon usage was a key part of the re-ordering brief.

Looking at the project in very simple terms using the tenets of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Alex discussed how a lower carbon footprint was achieved.


Reducing usage generally includes increasing insulation levels in a building so less energy is needed to heat it. In St Peter’s case, the building’s age and heritage status meant that traditional means of insulation were not options. In St Peter’s, the only area was available for improvement was the floor. This was achieved by using a recycled glass product as part of the new floor construction. Underfloor heating was chosen because it is an extremely efficient way to heat very tall spaces. This is because underfloor heating only heats the first 1.8 metres of a building, that is, where the heat is needed. Compare this to a radiator system which effectively heats the roof areas of a space as well as creating down drafts because of the circulation air currents that they create.


Before the re-ordering, St Peter’s was being heated to serve the needs of a very small congregation that met once a week. The key to a reduced carbon footprint was to ensure the building was used more frequently so the heat could be reused many times over. As part of the re-ordering the church has been made available for community use. This has led to a massive increase in the use of the building, which is now a hive of activity and the very centre of the village. The centre is used every day, for many different activities from the lending library to yoga. Visit A Day in the Life of St Peter’s to see the centre in action.


St Peter’s is heated with a biomass boiler that uses wood dust and wood shavings that are a by-product of the furniture industry, ensuring that waste products are recycled and not wasted. This provides a very low carbon heating system which replaced a hugely inefficient oil boiler which was expensive to use and very ineffective at heating the space.

Seeing St Peter’s being used as part of h.Energy week was a perfect example of the building fulfilling its remit. At the same time as Alex’s talk took place, the building was also being used by a storyteller to entertain a mothers and toddlers group, the cafe was open and welcoming people and all the volunteers were out in force. The building had a fantastic buzz and it was great to see it functioning at the heart of its community.

If you would like to create a new space, or conserve or renovate an historic building using low carbon principles, please contact us to discuss how we could work with you to help deliver a successful project.