Page last updated at 00:59 GMT, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Green church rises from the ashes

By Elizabeth Quigley
BBC Scotland

Some of the walls are clad with mobile phones and old welly boots

The new church at the village of Bankfoot in Perthshire is buzzing with activity.

From the playgroup and the busy cafe, to the local primary school children practising their nativity play, the large high-ceilinged church is a hive of activity.

But this is not just a stunning new church being used by all ages of the community - this is one of the most environmentally-friendly buildings in the UK.

There are wind turbines, a ground source heat pump and roof tiles made of recycled quarry dust.

The building's frame has been made entirely from wood from renewable forests and in the soft play area, mobile phones and old welly boots have a new lease of life as cladding on the walls.

The Reverend Iain McFadzean is clearly quietly very proud of his church.

Standing in the middle of the Bankfoot Church Centre, he talks about the fire more than four years ago that destroyed the previous 19th Century church in Bankfoot - its ruin stands high above the village.

"What we've got now really rose out of quite a tragic event," he said.

Children practise nativity play
Local school children practise their nativity play in the church

"The old church burnt down and at the end of the fire we had nothing left so we had to start thinking what do we do? Do we rebuild where it was? Do we rebuild what it was? What's a church all about?"

And the new building in Bankfoot, rising phoenix-like from the ashes, seems to have answered those questions.

This is a church that is open a lot more than just a one-hour service every Sunday.

It is a building that feels warm and welcoming, and not just because of the environmentally-friendly underfloor heating.

Visitors and locals alike seem impressed with the church centre's green credentials.

Incredibly the whole building has the same carbon footprint as a two-bedroom bungalow - one of the lowest in the UK for a building this size.

At Bankfoot they are not so much looking forward to a white Christmas - as the prospect of a very green one.

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