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Why they’re turning green in the pews

For John Swinney, it was a moment of epiphany: the minister for sustainable development, visibly impressed on his visit to a new church in Perthshire, declared that some day, all public buildings would be made this way.

Bankfoot, about eight miles north of prosperous Perth, lost its church in 2004, when a builder’s bonfire destroyed the building. But the clouds of smoke had a silver lining in the shape of the new church and community centre, which opens in a fortnight.

Not only does the new structure provide a worthy successor to the charred ruin which still broods above the village, it does so with cutting-edge eco-friendly technology, delivering probably the lowest carbon footprint of any similar building in Britain, and demonstrates the Church of Scotland’s commitment to tackling climate change.

Scottish churches are often found in remote areas without access to power grids or gas supplies. This has obliged some to adapt to local conditions, with some installing ground-source heat pump systems and others opting for solar or wind power to light and heat the Kirk’s property. While the motivation may once have been purely cost, the church now celebrates the happy coincidence that solar, wind and ground heat fit in nicely with the idea of preserving the Creator’s handiwork.

Reverend Iain McFadzean is the man who made it happen for Bankfoot. In other circumstances, the replacement church might well have been a simple refurbishment of the old one. But a combination of needs – disabled access, greater capacity – required a new site. When that was found, other options opened up.

• Full story at the Sunday Herald.

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