St Ursula's Church, Berne
Energy News

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Progress with our Energy Project

We hope on this page to keep you up to date with the latest news on the energy project.

By way of background, Council agreed in June 2013 to form a committee to look into the energy footprint of the church. After a very thorough survey, the committee highlighted several areas where energy was being wasted or poorly used. These areas included the way the church was heated, the periods during which the hall was heated, hall insulation, the hot water supplies in the hall and the house, the insulation of the chaplain's house, and especially of its walls and roof, and the efficiency of the boiler. The committee consulted experts and gathered initial estimates, especially a GEAK Plus report in September 2015, putting the total cost in the region of Fr250'000. An appeal was launched, and a magnificent donation allowed us to undertake further measurements and get down to detail. The committee produced its final report in April 2016 and presented it to Council (though the definitive version was agreed in September 2016) with detailed recommendations (and a final cost estimate of some Fr400'000). Council set up a project team, led by Hans Goepfert, and including Edi Wildhaber, Rolf Klingler, Hector Davie, Isabelle Wienand and Sue Higson. The team appointed H+K Planungs AG as project manager.

State of Play: 20 August 2017

Today we held our service in the church hall, and we shall be doing so for the next five or six weeks, while the builders are in occupation of the church. This will save time and money, as the church will not need to be reinstated every weekend. In any case, the building work will generate a lot of dust, and keeping the congregation away from the work on the walls would have been impractical.

Stephen is away on a family holiday, and so the Sunday service was led by the Revd Elizabeth Bussmann, our diocesan environmental officer. Elizabeth and her husband Edi live in Aeschi. She normally leads services in Château d'Œx. Our lay reader, Archana Jacob, preached. Hans-Karl Pfyffer, our organist, proved up to the challenge of accompanying the liturgy on the piano.

After the rush of setting the space up, there were very few other hiccups. Several members of the congregation commented favourably, and gave helpful advice on small improvements we could make. The input we gathered will allow us to plan for a series of problem-free services in future weeks.


19 August 2017

Preparatory work has now started on the church.

The area around the wall panelling has been cleared, and the conduits for the electrical cabling removed.

The new heating sytem will be installed against the walls, and is designed to throw heat into the main body of the church, with as little as possible going to waste. After these radiating panels have been installed, the panelling will be replaced with something very similar, with better thermal characteristics.

This should ensure a warm church, with a much reduced heating bill!

31 July 2017

The builders' presence is making itself felt.

The wall dividing the kitchen and the dining area has been removed, making a more specious area for the chaplain, family and visitors. While this is not part of the energy project, it has had to be scheduled to dovetail with the energy work.

The old oil tank and boiler have been removed. The new heating system will be gas-based, for ease of maintenance, and the boiler will be smaller, since a more efficient heating system and more effective insulation mean that we need fewer kilowatts of heat from it. The former tank room will be used as the house cellar, and the former Schutzraum (bomb shelter) made accessible from the lower church hall.

We have at last reached agreement with the conservation authorities (Denkmalschutz) on the form of heating we will be using in the church. This will rely on efficient radiators in the walls (a technique used in several churches). The panelling will have to be removed and modified. This will mean the church will be out of use for four to six weeks from 20 August, and we shall be holding services in the hall.

There is work to be done in the hall, too, which can be done relatively quickly in a short "window of opportunity" just after the autumn book and food sale.

The last phase of the project involves insulation work on the church house, which will take place in September.

27 July 2017

Work has started, and it's all happening at once. Stephen and Jane have been on holiday for part of the last few weeks, and we have taken the opportunity of doing some vital maintenance work on the house - relaying the downstairs floors, taking out the old shelving in the study, and, most noticeably, taking down the wall dividing the kitchen from the dining area, so that the downstairs is open plan, well-lit and comfortably spacious.

At the same time, we are replacing the old oil-fired boiler with a more silent gas-powered heating system, dimensioned to our reduced energy needs. The insulation work, when complete, will mean we use far less fuel, and the new boiler will mean that we are not burning our money needlessly. It will benefit the environment too.

A doorway between the lower hall and the house cellar will mean that we have better access to the heating infrastructure - it also opens a useful storage area, which we hope will not get filled up with junk!

The next sub-projects are due to start in August. We'll keep you informed about them when they happen!

17 July 2017

The good news is that planning permission has now come through, and we can get started on the work. A lot of the first stage of the work involves the church house, and we are taking advantage of the holiday season do some other essential work on the interior layout to bring its standard up to the 21st century.

The work on the inside of the house involves replacing the oven and hob, laying a raised wooden floor in the office, living and dining area, and a vinyl floor in the kitchen, repapering or painting the walls, doors, radiators and ceilings, and remodelling the wall between the kitchen and dining area. None of these is part of the energy project itself, and it is being funded from a separate budget for house renewals and repairs. Contributions towards the cost are, however, very welcome!

Another piece of work related to, but not part of the energy project, is making an entrance to the church house cellar from the lower hall. This will allow easy access to the heating system (which heats the house, the hall and the church) without disturbing the chaplain's family. We hope it will also allow us to make more sensible use of our storage space, which has grown rather out of hand!

A last drive for funding has begun. We are fortunate that His Excellency Mr David Moran, the British Ambassador, has agreed to host a fund-raising event in August at the Residence which will allow us to appeal for that extra cushion that means our finances remain secure.

10 June 2017

A very successful and well-attended Ethiopian evening raised some Fr2000 towards our appeal. Many thanks to our sisters and brothers in the Ethiopian church for their help and hospitality!

The application for building permission is now being processed by the city authorities. As expected, we found that the wooden panelling in the church had been part of the original design - the wall behind it was completely unplastered brickwork. This meant that we have had to think again about the church heating, perhaps with an underfloor solution. Once building permission for the house and hall has been received, we can start work. Contracts have been signed, and work can start as soon as permission comes through.

The observant will have noticed a hole in the pavement outside the church house. EWB have been installing gas to the building, as we shall be using less energy, and one part of the project involves replacing our bulky and noisy boiler with a smaller, more silent and more efficient model. Watch out for more signs of progress!

24 April 2017

The firms we are inviting to tender for the work came to view the site on Maundy Thursday, and we will receive their tenders before the end of the month.

Last week, some of our team went to Zollikofen with representatives of H+K Planung to inspect the heating in the parish church. This basically consists of a heated wall. The sacristan there told us that this had dramatically improved the church heating, and lowered the costs. H+K have also delivered a similar project at Gretzenbach (SO).

One problem with such a solution is that it will work best if the wooden panels in the nave are removed. People have commented that these panels make the church look darker and less inviting, but the Denkmalschutz need to be convinced that they are not an original feature of the building. We will remove a part of the panelling and see if the wall behind is plastered, which will be a sign that the woodwork is not original.


HD - Page last modified 20 August 2017