Launch of a New Educational Energy Saving Project at Schools

The project is implemented in Bulgaria by the National Trust Eco Fund (NTEF) as part of a wider European initiative supported by the Federal Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Germany. The project “Bridging European and Local Climate Action (BEACON) involves educational institutions from the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Germany, and other activities for exchange of experience between municipalities in Greece, Poland and Portugal. The direct partner of the NTEF for the activities in Bulgaria is the Berlin Independent Environmental Institute (UfU), with which the pilot phase of this broad initiative was implemented in the previous two years and will continue for three school years.

Two of the important goals of the project in Bulgaria are:

to achieve a change in students and teachers’ behavior towards reducing energy consumption in school buildings
creating a model to stimulate and motivate Bulgarian municipalities and schools to reduce energy consumption in schools

The project includes 15 municipal schools from three municipalities – Veliko Tarnovo, Lyulin District in Sofia, Pavel Banya and Samokov, in which the NTEF funds measures for improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

Information about the experience in Bulgaria: In the previous pilot project implemented by NTEF, two schools from Lyulin region in Sofia and Samokov municipality already participated. Both the pilot and current projects are implemented following a ” 50/50 model”, implemented in a number of European countries. The idea is that half of the money saved as a result of the changed behavior of students and teachers to remain for the school and the other half – for the municipality. In these countries, all school activities are funded by municipalities, however, there is a difference in Bulgaria – schools have a delegated budget, meaning any savings achieved goes for the school. We now need to create a model for reinvesting these savings in climate and energy education.

The other difference between the project implementation models is that in other countries students work with external experts – from non-governmental organizations. For Bulgaria, NTEF proposed and it was agreed that students work with their teachers.

The main activities in the 15 schools in Bulgaria are:

Teacher Training – conducted by partners from the Berlin Independent Environmental Institute (UfU);
Energy tours of the school to identify energy saving potential and energy consumption information from previous years – a demonstration tour will take place in one school and later held in all 15 schools;
Formation of energy teams – extracurricular work for students;
Operation of energy teams an; reporting and publicity – the members of these teams take the initiative and engage the teachers and classmates towards changing their behavior to save energy;
Exchange of experience between schools participating in the project.

For the purposes of work, NTEF provides instruments, materials, resources, participation in meetings and seminars, resources to cover the additional hours for the participating teachers’ work.

In order to ensure that the created capacities and skills of students and teachers are maintained as a permanent way of using the buildings and forming lasting understandings and habits among young people, NTEF will financially support the school teams for the first three years. After that, work should continue supported by the accumulated savings.

Measuring instruments will remain property of the schools, teachers will be trained, and it will be important to find a mechanism to encourage teachers and non-teaching staff to take care of their building in the future.

The first events of the project are:

Teacher training at 23 at 10.30 am and 24 October 2018 at Park Hotel Moscow in Sofia

Demonstration tour on 25th October at 9.30 am in Petko Slaveykov Primary School in Veliko Tarnovo

First Stakeholder Meeting on October 26, 9:00 am, at 90 General Jose de San Martin, Sofia, in the Lyulin District in Sofia.

In parallel with the work in the schools, NTEF will coordinate a process of analyses and discussions with all stakeholders in order to specify a model to stimulate and motivate a permanently active energy saving program in all Bulgarian schools. This will be the accent during the third event of the week.