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Evaluation of decarbonisation options for heritage church buildings

Khalid, Yousaf; Ngwaka, Ugochukwu; Papworth, Joseph; Ling-Chin, Janie; Smallbone, Andrew

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Joseph Papworth


Heritage church buildings are significant energy consumers and carbon emitters, but hard to decarbonise due to construction materials and designs, which presents an imperative challenge for churches that have a mission to achieve net-zero targets by 2030. The study aims to provide a clear pathway for decarbonising heritage church buildings to support net-zero planning and evidence-based decisions. The methodology involved producing a virtual replica for each building to generate valuable insight into retrofit possibilities; exploring the potential of various decarbonisation interventions using dynamic modelling simulated with site data; comparing the interventions to the baselines in terms of energy, cost, and emissions; and tailoring decarbonisation solutions according to specific conditions. The results show that for small churches, replacing the gas boiler with another technology and using existing hydronic heating could be effective for low usage, whereas replacing the current heating system with heat pumps with PV offset would be more economical for high usage; on the other hand, for large churches, heat pumps or biomass could significantly reduce emissions. It is concluded that due to the unique characteristics of heritage church buildings, there is no one-size-fits-all solution but the uniform methodology proposed in this study could be applied to support evidence-based decisions for net-zero heritage buildings. The case studies contribute towards current knowledge and understanding. The work is original as it quantifies the benefits of various decarbonisation measures in 4 case studies of different ages, sizes, and usage patterns, representing a significant portion of heritage church buildings in England.


Khalid, Y., Ngwaka, U., Papworth, J., Ling-Chin, J., & Smallbone, A. (2023). Evaluation of decarbonisation options for heritage church buildings. Journal of Building Engineering, 77, Article 107462.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 29, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 30, 2023
Publication Date 2023-10
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 4, 2023
Journal Journal of Building Engineering
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 77
Article Number 107462
Keywords Mechanics of Materials; Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality; Building and Construction; Architecture; Civil and Structural Engineering
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