EnFolding the Future at Baildon Methodist Church, Bradford  

John D Anderson describes how the Baildon Methodist Church Fold faces the future.  

What is special about the Baildon Methodist Church Fold? 

It enFolds the community in a building that sits lightly on the earth. The Fold is never cold; it is warm and welcoming. 

What steps has your church taken towards net zero? 

Since work began in 2006 we have become a nationally triple-certificated Eco-congregation. We have 180 members and 1000 users a week in our daily café and thriving community outreach facilities. 

In 2019 we opened the first two-storey low-carbon building on church premises in Britain, constructed to standards similar to those of a Passivhaus. This new building is called the Fold. The upper and lower spaces are available for hire and provided free of charge to uniformed and youth groups.  

Despite the diversions of the COVID19 lockdown, it is already evident that the Fold will be of great value to the many local community groups who are keen to use the building as soon as it is permitted.  

How did you reduce emissions from your church buildings? 

The sanctuary and all the main church buildings were altered to emit less carbon dioxide, in particular by removing the gas central heating and replacing it with Far Infrared electric heating. 

Half the electricity was used by one outdated, intensively used, thin-walled hut; this needed to be replaced.  The Fold has walls half a metre thick, triple glazing, an air handling unit with a heat exchanger, and renewable electricity generated by 8 kW peak photovoltaic panels on the roof.  

In addition, we installed three electric car charging points. 

What are the climate benefits of your new building, the Fold? 

The way the Fold has been constructed means it emits no carbon dioxide, no gas supply is installed, and it uses little electricity. It seems likely that over the year the Fold will generate nearly as much electricity as it uses.  

Even in the winter the building is warm and is enjoyed regularly. Because of the thick insulation the Fold will be resilient to increasing heat in summer as well as winter cold.  

Have you found any unexpected benefits of the new building? 

Current community users are COVID-secure since the air handling unit expels all used air and inputs fresh air, pre-warmed by a heat exchanger. This means germs are not circulated, which was an unexpected benefit of installing the air handling unit.  

How was the work funded? 

The new building cost £1 million, which took ten years to raise from the national Methodist Church, the Bradford North Methodist Circuit, and a considerable number of national trusts and charities.   

Further funds are still being raised to future-proof the older buildings, some of which date from 1890.  

Are you able to do anything to help others make changes in future? 

Yes, we are keen to demonstrate the features of Fold to show that the church is taking a lead in caring for creation. If you would like a free tour of the building please contact John D Anderson via our website.