Helping schools become energy smart in South West Europe – Spain, Portugal, France and UK

Schools in Spain, Portugal, France and Gibraltar have learned to become more energy efficient and sustainable through a cross-border project that focuses on developing a low-carbon approach. ClimACT has helped 39 pilot schools address issues such as energy use, green procurement, resource consumption and behavioural change. The project involved staff, parents and schoolchildren.

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Teacher and students at work in the ClimACT project   ©ClimACT Teacher and students at work in the ClimACT project ©ClimACT

" From a technical point of view, the project succeeded in evaluating the environmental and energy performance of the pilot schools and identified sound measures to reduce energy use. Beyond that, it encouraged the whole school community to engage enthusiastically in low carbon issues including teachers, parents and students. "

Susana Marta Almeida, project coordinator

Schools working in the project are now playing a greater role in monitoring and optimising their energy and environmental performance. New business models have been introduced that are helping schools cut their energy bills. Meanwhile, learning tools have been developed to educate school children in the value of a low carbon approach to life. 

ClimACT created a decision support tool which the schools have used to assess the energy consumption of their buildings and to identify areas for improvement. The project also created a systematic methodology to achieve smart energy management in the pilot schools. After an initial assessment of baseline performance, areas were identified where efficiency measures could be introduced. Changes were made to daily decision-making on energy use, and action plans developed to ensure long-term commitment. 

Engaging students

The project’s education platform was designed to encourage students to learn about low carbon issues and how they can affect their schools and everyday lives. Students were provided with information and learning opportunities relating to sustainability and the environment as well as the value of developing green lifestyles. An e-learning course on sustainable development helped teachers in their work. 

In addition, ClimACT developed a thematic network and complementary web portal to raise awareness about the project, help build capacity and communicate with all stakeholders.

Encouraging permanent change

To ensure the project’s impetus is not lost after it completes its work, a ‘low-carbon structure’ has been introduced in the participating schools consisting of coordinator, committee and brigade. The committees are expected to be the driving force, ensuring that future activities will be implemented. The committee is charged with discussing the annual work plan, as well as monitoring and evaluating all subsequent activities. Committees include teachers, students, non-teaching staff, parents and local authority representatives.

In addition to engaging with the pilot schools, the project has involved 6 000 people in awareness-raising activities and 850 stakeholders in meetings, seminars and focus groups.


“With the ClimACT project I have the opportunity, together with the academic community, to identify situations that have improved the environmental and energy performance of my school, contributing significantly to the reduction of carbon emissions. Participation in the ClimACT project enabled me to network with other schools in Portugal, Spain, France and Gibraltar, where sharing experiences has contributed to the acquisition of knowledge and skills that I have been applying as a teacher."


Vítor Manteigas, teacher from a Portuguese ClimACT school 


“This job is a chance for me to act toward the reduction of our environmental impact. This topic is very significant to my personal life and this job gave me the opportunity to continue this commitment at a larger scale. My main partners are schools of course but also and mainly my own college which is in charge of technical work in schools building, or green spaces management, or the school canteen, or the energy department, etc... The challenge of ClimACT is to make all those stakeholders work together and make them conscious of the impact of their actions and act in favor of a low carbon economy.


Céline Berthier, project manager, Municipality of La Rochelle, France

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “ClimACT - Transition to a Low Carbon Economy in schools” is EUR 1 374 128, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 993 096 through the “Interreg Sudoe” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Low Carbon Economy”.


Draft date