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The Living Lab Green Schools was born out of the renovation process undertaken by the Province of Treviso in the management of the secondary schools building estate, made up of 38 schools using more than 100 buildings, with a view to get a deep knowledge of the school estate and involve users in the management process while raising their awareness about energy saving, the use of the common good and the shared space. The opportunity for this renovation process was provided by an Energy Performance Contract (an external subject was contracted by a public procurement procedure) concerning school buildings. The energy saving goals, usually pursued through technological investments repaid by energy bill reduction, were boosted in this new contract through users participation in the process towards energy efficiency. The Green Schools experience was thus initially conceived as a mean to involve users in the energy efficiency process, in the framework of an Energy Performance Contract based not simply on technological devices for energy saving, but additionally promoting changes in people’s behaviour.
The LL Green Schools of the Province of Treviso aims therefore at changing users’ behaviour to foster energy saving. In order to achieve this goal Green Schools uses the management of the school building as a model in which the user/student/teacher can actively participate thanks to the IT tools used for the managing activities, which are accessible through a web portal (www.100scuole.it). Thus, Green Schools is an answer to the need of reducing the costs for managing buildings through a reduction of energy consumption and through a rational and conscious use of the common good.
Green Schools furtherly provides an important educational added value as activities aiming at energy saving and sustainability are mainly addressed to, and performed by, students and teachers.
The interaction between the subjects involved in our Living Lab is producing:
from a technological point of view, improved use of infrastructural innovations finalised to energy saving in school buildings (boilers substitution, thermostatic valves, piping insulation, new control systems, solar water heating plants, photovoltaic plants). Widespread use of energy measurement devices, such as smart metering, to give users full consciousness of the achieved results;
from an economic point of view, saving benefits deriving from the Energy Performance Contract, which foresees the sharing of the financial savings between the contractor and the public buildings ‘owner. Part of these savings can be used to boost the LL activities stimulating a virtuous circle leading to new savings;
from a social point of view, the setting up of an Energy Team for each school that , thanks to the action of the “Energy Officers” (teachers or school officers) is in charge of spreading initiatives regarding energy savings and sustainability throughout their schools. Along with the contractor and the building owner’s technical staff, the Energy Team guarantees the best use of the technological improvements to enhance the final results in terms of energy saving;
from a human point of view, the involvement of students, teachers and school staff in the action aimed at reducing the direct and indirect energy consumption.
The main characteristics of Green Schools LivingLabs are:
users themselves, as well as technology, become a real “tool” for energy saving;;
in the Green Schools Living Lab the roles of technology and users are
technology is the lever through which users are stimulated towards a virtuous
behaviour and users efficiency can boost new technological investments on energy
efficiency, creating a virtuous circle;
it has a spill over effect in the social context (socialization and respect for common
resources), in informal learning (it stimulates learning through acting and action, even from a competitive point of view with the Green Schools Competition), in the technological field (users stimulate technologies such as smart metering) and in the economic field (virtuous behaviour reinforces the energy saving potentialities and therefore costs).
References and Track Record
Green Schools was autonomously conceived, initially as an energy saving tool, by the technical staff of the Province of Treviso, local authority in charge of operation and maintenance of buildings for the higher secondary education. It was furtherly developed thanks to participation in EnergyViLLab, project financed within the Italy- Slovenia Cross-border Cooperation Programme 2007-2013, aiming at making the cross-border area a place of best practice in the use of energy from renewable sources, energy saving and sustainable mobility through promotion of Energy Virtuous Living Labs.