The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Tug of War for First Solar Roof on Historic Church

The 500-year-old Reformed Church in Trin, Graubünden, is set to become the first historic church in the canton, and possibly the whole of Switzerland, to have a solar roof. The project has faced resistance from conservationists and the local community, as there is no overview of solar installations on sacred buildings in Switzerland. Currently, only the Reformed Church in Landquart, built in 1908, has solar cells on its roof. Across the country, there are at least a dozen other churches, all of which are more recent. The church in Trin was built in 1491 and is not a listed building, but is part of the protected village landscape and is listed in the Federal Cultural Property Inventory. All of the roof tiles are being replaced with frameless photovoltaic modules, transforming the red roof into a matte black. The small parish has been fighting for the nearly 300 square meter installation since 2017, led by former parish president Jürg Scheidegger. The conservationists argued that the church is a worthy object of protection due to its prominent position in the village and its historical substance, and that the solar roof is an intervention into the protected village landscape. Scheidegger argued that the solar roof is a return to the original state of the church, which had a black wooden shingle roof. A change in the local government eventually granted the parish permission to proceed with the project in November 2022. The parish hopes to use the project as a beacon, showing that it is possible to install solar roofs on historic buildings if done in an aesthetically pleasing way. The project is also intended to demonstrate the parish's commitment to the energy transition and to future generations, as preserving creation is a core mission of the church.


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