Sustainability

Our ethos

At Hilfield we live with care of creation at the heart of our life and ministry. Our proclamation of the Gospel in word and the way we live involve radical choices. These include how we welcome people as brothers and sisters, and how we order our life mindful of the need to pay attention to all that is happening within and around our community. The ethos of sustainability affects how we maintain and heat our buildings, how we source and prepare the food we eat, the way we travel, how we care for gardens and animals. The underlying motivation is love—love of God who made all things and sustains life, and love of neighbor, both human and non-human.



Sustainable energy

On 20th November 2020 Br Hugh wrote:

The poster at the Friary entrance announces Hilfield Friary’s solar project,  part-funded by Low Carbon Dorset as part of the European Regional Development Fund .

In 2012 the Friary had 44 solar pv panels, (10kwp) installed on the Chapel Roof, giving about 10,000 kwhs of electricity a year, plus valuable payments from the Feed in Tariff. However, it is only a part of what we need. The arrival of electric car charging and LED lighting has increased and decreased our needs respectively.

We had always planned to generate more, and to reduce our carbon footprint further. Equipment costs have fallen but the FIT has also gone. Now Low Carbon Dorset, run by our local authority, Dorset Council, has helped us find part funding to cover the roofs of Francis and Leo Houses and the chip store for our biomass boiler.

We are most grateful to The Low Carbon Dorset team for their excellent advice and encouragement in finding the most appropriate technology, in the size with the shortest payback time. It helped us apply for the 40% funding from the EU’s  European Regional Development Fund.

A local firm will begin installation next week. 29 pwp of panels on more 3 roofs will generate another 30,000 kwhs pa, quadrupling the power we generate. It will give an estimated C02 saving of 21.8 tonnes pa.

LCD has also helped other Dorset churches, at least one of which is, like us, an Ecochurch award winner. See www.lowcarbondorset.org.uk/  and https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/  for further information.

Solar power helps the friary economically, as we will now have to buy less electricity, albeit 100% renewable electricity from Ecotricity. As the cost of batteries fall further, in a year or two, we also hope to store daytime power to use at night. In the meantime, surplus power will go to the grid, but the Local Electricity Bill, now going through parliament, could let us sell spare power to neighbours.

The Church of England has just brought forward its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, and this solar project shows what we can do now. See www.churchofengland.org/news-and-media/news-and-statements/general-synod-sets-2030-net-zero-carbon-target

This project is part of our care for creation, our Common Home as Pope Francis calls it in Laudato Si. St Francis spoke of Brother Sun and Mother Earth but had no idea how harnessing the lifegiving power of Br Sun could slow the poisoning of Mother Earth with CO2, giving us hope in our climate emergency.  Guests and visiting groups will learn about the project, just as they learn about our biomass heating.


Click on the images below to visit our kitchen garden and food pages

Electric car

The Friary is a wonderful place to live, but it is remote and public transport is difficult. Most of our journeys are within an eleven mile radius of the Friary, but together they make for a considerable carbon footprint.

To reduce this we have an electric car which, with a range of 100 miles, fulfills our need for short haul transport. We’ve installed a charging point for the batteries which is supplied at least partly by the solar panels on the chapel roof. It is available for visitors’ cars too. Also, our mains electricity is from renewable sources.