The Church of England has launched an initiative to help its network of schools reach net zero as part of the first phase of its multi-million-pound Net Zero Carbon Programme.

The initiative involves the establishment of a National Framework to help schools reduce carbon emissions, save money by improving their energy efficiency, and switch to cheaper, more reliable, renewable energy sources. Funding will initially focus on analysing the option of replacing inefficient, polluting fossil-fuel heating systems, which will also deliver cost savings over the long run.

“Church schools produce almost half of the Church’s carbon emissions and are therefore a fundamental part of the Church’s ambition to reach net zero carbon across the whole estate,” said Nigel Genders, Chief Executive of the National Society. “The National Framework for Schools and Academies will help schools meet the challenge of securing the funds needed to provide sustainable and flourishing Church of England schools for the future.”

The National Framework is being coordinated by DBE Services, a company owned by six northern dioceses, ensuring support, advice, and inspiration are on hand to engage 3,000 church schools and academies. It will work with Boards of Education and Multi Academy Trusts to identify cost-effective fabric improvements and take full advantage of energy-saving and energy-generating technologies.

Dr Sam Johnson, CEO of DBE Services and a Licensed Lay Minister in Blackburn Diocese, said: “We are delighted to work with schools across the country to assist them in the planning and delivery of decarbonisation projects. We’re hoping that all schools and academies will engage with the sustainability and net zero carbon agenda, and that a coordinated approach will help secure funding for schools across the country as they work to lower their emissions.”