The UK’s Gloucester Cathedral is going solar! Over 1,000 years old, the historic building has recently installed 150 solar panels in an effort to cut its carbon footprint. While many are celebrating the marriage between historic buildings and cutting-edge clean energy, others wonder if going solar could affect the architectural conservation of this (and other) monumental buildings.
Gloucester Cathedral is gaining a lot of press with its decision to go solar. Claiming it’s the oldest building in the UK (and possibly the world!) to go solar on such a large scale, Reverend Canon Celia Thomson and her flock are excited to be going green: “We are thrilled that our vision to become a greener cathedral is being fulfilled and proud to make a valuable contribution to the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign,” she said. Their decision to go solar comes after the church of England has declared climate change to be “a great demon”.
While some people were originally concerned that the solar system would ruin the aesthetic of the cathedral, plans went ahead once the parish was assured that the solar system would be mostly invisible from the ground--cathedrals are, after all, very tall--and that Gloucester’s flying buttresses and many gargoyles would also help to hide the solar array. In the end, the array is projected to cut the cathedral’s electricity costs by a quarter.
However, that wasn’t the only problem the system faced: “The historic nature of the building means we have encountered various issues to resolve,” adds Ben Harrison, managing partner of the solar installation company putting in the array. “All roofs will sag a bit over time but particularly when there’s lead… with a 1,000 year old building like the Cathedral, you find twists and turns on the roof and undulations where it’s sagged over the years.
“At times it’s been extremely tight in terms of manoeuvrability around parts of the site, particularly when the work required us to work just inches away from centuries-old gargoyles, but we put strategies and measures in place to protect the building from any damage.”
Interestingly, cathedrals have one big advantage when it comes to making the switch to solar: they were usually build pointing directly from east to west, leaving a huge area of south-facing roof that’s ideal for solar panels.
If a 1,000 year-old-building can go solar, then your home can, too! Call us at 407.331.9077 or contact us online to learn more about how you can reduce your carbon footprint.