Review of the Climate Challenge Fund - Appendix C: Case Studies Report

This report reviews the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF), a Scottish Government scheme that supports communities to take action to address climate change.

Wardie Climate Champions

Project value Low (£0 - £65,689)
Duration One year
Refresh Elements Broaden - New groups to CCF
Topic(s) Energy Efficiency, Transport, Food, Waste

Project Details

Background to group

Wardie Climate Champions (WCC) is a community group formed by members of the congregation of Wardie Parish Church (WPC), Edinburgh - a Church of Scotland religious community. Its board membership consists of around 60 elders plus 30 co-opted members, who serve a term of three years; the board has three committees - Property, Finance and Business. The physical assets of WPC consist of the main church building and a number of ancillary halls. WPC is Edinburgh's first eco-congregation. It is also a Fair Trade church and won the Lord Provost Fair Trade Community Award in 2011.

Reasons for project and inspiration

The WCC project was conceived following concerns raised by the church's property committee about the rising cost of energy associated with operating the church building and its halls. An energy audit was undertaken by the Energy Saving Trust (EST), the results of which indicated that energy efficiency measures could be installed that would significantly reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions. EST suggested the group apply to the CCF for funding to enable these measures. As part of the CCF funding application WCC also committed to undertaking a climate change education programme, focusing on CO2 emission reduction activities.

Aims and approach

The main aims of the project are summarised as follows.

  • Reduce CO2 emissions resulting from use of the church's hall through a planned programme of energy efficiency improvements.
  • Lower transport-related CO2 emissions by reducing car use and encouraging active travel to and from the church.
  • Reduce (by 10%) CO2 emissions arising from 20 local households through encouraging energy consumption behaviour change.
  • Encourage the production of locally-grown fruit and vegetables in local community and church gardens.

The requirements of CCF funding meant that the church, as a centre of religious worship, could not be the subject of energy efficiency measures. Therefore a boiler upgrade was paid for by the church (although zone valves and room thermostats associated with the heating system were funded through CCF).

Achieving Behaviour Change

The target audience for the project were the wider Wardie community (i.e. congregation members and local residents using the halls for other activities). Active engagement with lay members of the local community (a larger group than the church congregational alone) was found initially to be a daunting but necessary consideration by the project team.

A summary of the project activities, measures and behaviour change findings arranged in terms of ISM contexts is as follows.


  • Workshops, training and events to explain the impacts of action/inaction encouraged enduring behaviour change relating to climate change (i.e. reduced material and energy use, active travel, waste reduction and local food production) among target audience.
  • Domestic energy monitors used to demonstrate the direct link between householder energy behaviour and cost / CO2 emissions, again encouraging behaviour change.
  • Providing emission reduction and waste reduction enabling information (e.g. bus timetables, cycle route maps, educational events) via notice boards, community newsletters, the church website, etc.
  • Introducing environment-themed content into church services.


  • Holding 'Carbon Conversations' groups, in association with University of Edinburgh's Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability, and engaging with other community groups.
  • Organising EST 'FuelGood' eco-driving lessons and a monthly walking group.
  • Group / social activities (e.g. Walk to Wardie, an event involving 600+ people) challenged established behaviours and broke down barriers.
  • Organising two garden open days, to encourage community members to grow their own food.
  • Holding an energy fair in partnership with other groups with an interest in reducing CO2 emissions.


  • Upgrading building fabric and controls for energy efficiency, to enable energy efficient behaviours (e.g. zonal heating control).
  • Energy monitors issued to help reduce domestic energy use; cycle racks installed to encourage active travel.
  • Establishing more productive and enduring gardening spaces.

Successes and Benefits

Project delivery

Energy efficiency measures undertaken included installation of thermal insulation in attic spaces, the refurbishment of wooden doors and windows with double or secondary glazing, and the replacement of single-glazed aluminium windows with double-glazed timber windows. These measures yielded tangible reductions in energy costs and CO2 emissions. Similarly, enduring CO2 emission reductions were achieved through changing travel behaviour (e.g. car sharing to church services, 'Walk to Wardie' campaign).


Encouraging the local growing of fruit and vegetables was a particular success. This was enabled by a community visit to the Edible Garden Project at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, and 'open gardens' events held within the local community. There was great enthusiasm for the latter event (which was attended by approximately 100 community members) with plans in place to repeat the event in the coming year. Some 11 local gardens (with both experienced and novice gardeners) contributed towards this aspect of the project, with one established garden yielding an astonishing 300kg of produce in one year. Gardening also proved to be a social event that increased community cohesion.

Wider benefits

Effective working relationships were formed between members of the project committee, with existing skills being complemented and new skills being developed. Moreover, yielding more comfortable and amenable spaces through energy efficient refurbishment yielded greater use of the halls by other community groups. This resulted in a small increase in rental revenue and provided ongoing opportunities for the church to continue to raise awareness about climate change and CO2 emission reduction activities. The realisation of greater community cohesion was also noted.

Carbon Calculations

Data that allowed CO2 emission reductions to be determined were collected for each of the main activity types undertaken in the project. Energy consumption savings resulting from the installation of energy efficiency measures were estimated from meter readings compared to a baseline. CO2 emissions associated with changes in travel behaviour were estimated from surveys, domestic energy reductions from returned energy monitor readings, and food miles saved from weighing locally produced fruit and vegetables. The CO2 emission reduction calculations were performed by an engineer who was a member of the church congregation (the project team struggled to make sense of this process). In total, it was estimated that a lifetime reduction of 526 tonnes of CO2 was achieved.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Project development

The historic / listed status of some of the church buildings subject to the energy efficiency measures proved to be an initial stumbling block for the project team, who had no experience of making a listed building planning permission application. Exploring and understanding this process took a considerable time. Fortunately, an architect based in the local community was able to make the application on behalf the group. Advice offered by the project team to other community groups contemplating a similar refurbishment was to engage with the planning application process as soon as possible.


The monitoring of domestic energy consumption/savings in a number of local households did not go as well as anticipated. Due to the time of year when the monitoring was conducted (i.e. autumn - the start of the heating season) it was found to be difficult to encourage any significant reductions in energy use. Furthermore, the reporting mechanism (including getting householders to record and forward monitor readings consistently) was problematic, although there was some success in distributing information on consumption across participants to enable them to compare their use. In addition, the use of energy monitors in the home did raise awareness and encourage householders to consider energy reduction behaviours, such as switching off electrical appliances when not in use. The project team indicated that had it had more time to prepare for this element of the project then it would have been more successful.

Legacy / Looking Forward

As a result of the project WPC signed Scotland's Climate Change Pledge for Communities, which "links grass-roots, community activities into the bigger picture - contributing towards Scotland's ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gases and developing our collective resilience for the future". Furthermore, the project team developed an ongoing sustainability strategy for the church, substantially based on this pledge.



Email: Debbie Sagar

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