Cathedrals in Ireland: sustainability problem or opportunity?

UNDOUBTEDLY there is an imperative in all facets of society to minimise one’s carbon footprint. It is, therefore, highly desirable that those responsible for ecclesiastical buildings examine how ecologically friendly the heating systems in their churches and cathedrals are.

Whilst the research on which this paper is based examined all 57 of the active Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland cathedrals on the island of Ireland, the conclusions drawn apply equally to churches, whether used frequently or sporadically. The paper will show that Irish cathedrals are 100% fossil fuel dependent and, unlike those in the Church of England, have no targets to reduce this dependency. It poses the question as to whether knowledge sharing within and between both jurisdictions might transform their sustainable energy problems into significant opportunities. Based on the evidence gathered during this research, potential heating system choices are posed, recognising that future solutions will have to be appropriate to local circumstances.