David Quinn & Colm Fitzpatrick
A number of churches are leading by example on green energy and showing parishes all over the country how they can affordably move, with State support, from fossil fuel heating systems to renewable energy ones that will save them money over time.
The Government recently announced a major plan aimed at drastically reducing Ireland’s carbon emissions and part of this will involve a switch to green energy.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has pointed to two churches as examples of how this can be done. One is the North Cathedral in Cork and the other is St Oliver Plunkett Church in Dundalk.
SEAI told The Irish Catholic that both churches received substantial grants to assist them in becoming more green.
North Cathedral installed solar panels, the lighting system was upgraded to environmentally-friendly LEDs, a heat pump was installed to eliminate electric heaters and a charger for electric cars was also installed.
The total cost was €77,000, but the church received almost half of this, or €36,000, in grant funding.
It is estimated that carbon emissions by the church will reduce by 24,000kg per annum.
St Oliver Plunkett’s also installed a more energy-efficient heating and lighting system as well as upgrading its windows and doors. The cost was €99,000, but this was offset by a grant of €49,000.
The annual carbon saving in this case is 10,000kg of CO2.
SEAI says other churches around the country have received Government funding to complete energy upgrades. The grants have also enabled churches to insulate attics and cavity walls.
The Energy Authority told The Irish Catholic: “The costs vary depending on a number of factors like the size of the building, the work being carried out, and how efficient the building was in the beginning etc. Many churches have great historical value, so a conservational officer may need to be consulted to do some additional checks before any upgrade works are planned”.
Pope Francis has pleaded that we do more to save the environment and many priests and bishops speak regularly about the matter. It is unknown how many parishes in total have made significant moves to cut down on their carbon emissions.