Technology: air source heat pump

Location: Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

CARES funding: capital grant of £14,180

Dates installed/operational: December 2021


Cairnlea Parish Church, situated in the centre of Airdrie, has a B-listed community hall that is widely used by different sectors of the community. The hall used oil-based heating, which is not only expensive, but the building was not energy efficient and was therefore losing considerable amounts of heat.

The church community is committed to environmental sustainability and had already spent large sums of money within the sanctuary and church house to improving its green credentials. Members also network with others in the community who want to drive the green agenda in the local area and were glad to be at the forefront of making things happen.

Cairnlea Parish Church

Project aims and objectives

The church community wanted to decarbonise the community hall’s heating system and contribute to Scotland’s commitment to reach net zero by 2045. This would involve removing the oil-based system and installing a new heating system along with associated works.

The church applied for financial support from The Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) to install two new air source heat pumps.

Outcomes and achievements

The church successfully installed two 16kW air source heat pumps. The church also carried out major insulation works and installed new LED lighting throughout, funded by the church’s trustees and members, to improve the building’s energy efficiency.

A spokesperson for Cairnlea Parish Church said: “Because the building is listed and a Church of Scotland property, we required a whole range of consents and therefore the project involved a great deal of planning and effort from volunteers alongside the work of the professionals.”

The community now enjoys a warmer, more comfortable environment in which to meet and take part in activities. The spokesperson explains: “The immediate perceived benefit [of upgrading the heating system] is the long-term sustainability and greater comfort of this community facility.

“We were keen to open up the facilities again to the people of all ages who’d previously attended the wide range of activities and support groups who meet here, and so we worked with urgency and vision so that people could meet again as COVID-19 recedes.

“A project like this, especially on the back of other expensive work carried out on the rest of the church buildings on site, stretched our financial resources considerably. The advent of the CARES grant was immensely encouraging as a contribution towards it. We anticipate our fuel bills being reduced, and we are hopeful of being able to claim some rebates through the renewable heating initiative, which we are still awaiting a decision on.

“We are delighted that the heating works wonderfully. The insulation has made a huge difference, and the renewal of the floor space and the fine new lighting are great too.

“Only now, at the beginning of 2022, do we see government guidelines allowing us to resume many of the former, and potentially new, activities within the church community hall. The few openings we have had so far have been very much appreciated, and very favourable comments have been received.”

underfloor heating being installed inside Cairnlea Parish Church

Lessons learned

The spokesperson said “The project demanded many volunteer hours, and the taking of brave steps forward in faith.

“Professional advice had to be recast on more than one occasion, perhaps not surprisingly in a building of this age. Fundraising was also a considerable challenge, and we were hugely grateful that we were able to borrow some money from congregational members in order to help cash flow.

“To have a set of people prepared to meet weekly, and to be on site as necessary, almost every day, is critical. This is not a project which can be done without being ready to count the cost in every sense.”

Find out more about Cairnlea Parish Church.