A “can do” attitude to sustainability is a feature of St Columba with their thriving Community Garden, Te Māra. When the Sustainability Field Worker visited this organically managed garden in 2015, it boasted a working bee hive, rainwater harvesting, on site composting and a worm farm. Keen to build on this success they invited the Sustainability Field Worker to assess their buildings and operations to learn more practical steps they could take to improve their sustainability.

An assessment of the site at St Columba revealed challenges in the form of water ponding against buildings. This ponding was contributing to damp under floor spaces, particularly in the vicarage. Damp sub floor spaces lead to high humidity and mould growth in the spaces above. This in turn adds to heating bills, as damp air requires more energy to heat. A first step would be to direct water away from the building before it meets the sub floor wall by modifying the surface drainage, subject to Council requirements for the site.

The Community Hall currently has old fixed, unflued gas heaters along with an old building ventilation system. Unflued gas heating releases water and toxins into the surrounding air and, particularly in the case of portable gas heaters, is not recommended. Modern units by contrast have flues built into the unit. For further discussion of heating options go to the DIY Sustainability Surveys for Churches page of the Cherished Earth website and download the paper, “Radiant Heating for Churches”.