First Climate Checks in Polish Schools

Poland has started with the first climate checks in schools in the EUKI project Visions 2045 – Schools as Drivers to Climate Neutrality in Cities. The project’s aim is to support schools in Bulgaria, Poland and Slovenia on their way to climate neutrality.

Published: 31 March 2023
School classroom in Minsk during a climate check, Photo: ©Minsk Mazowiecki

Climate neutrality in schools – Is this possible?

Climate neutrality is a rather complicated concept, especially for schools. Schools are complex systems with a lot of different user groups. Teachers, pupils, facility management, service personal, parents, coaches – they all use the building for different purposes. Therefore, it is difficult to apply the concept of climate neutrality to schools. Immediately, questions come to mind of when school starts and when it ends:

  • Is the school trip included in the concept of a climate neutral school?
  • Does learning material need to be climate neutral?
  • If the cafeteria serves food, how do we apply climate neutrality to the concept of school food?

It is relatively clear, that those questions can not be left to be answered by teachers, whose primary job it is to teach. Therefore, schools need professional support in creating an individual action towards climate neutrality that includes the specific needs of the school, the building and the people who are using the school. The Visions 2045 project, implemented by the Independent Institute for Environmental Issues in Berlin, accompanies schools in Bulgaria, Poland and Slovenia on their way to climate neutrality.

Climate checks in schools are the beginning of the project

The start for each school is an analysis of the school’s carbon footprint. Data on heating, electricity, water use, mobility, school meals and waste will help the school community and project team to calculate the carbon footprint of each school.

The data collection of emission relevant fields and analysing the school’s carbon footprint is called climate check in this project. The pupils are in included in this analysis and are therefore part of the identification of the school’s need for resources. This is especially important since the project also aims to educate children about the importance of one’s own action and its effect on the need and consumption of resources. A part of the climate check is also the inspection of the school’s heating system with the facility management. Children normally don’t have access to this part of the school. Though, this is not only important to gain a deeper understanding of the functionality of a building, but also to teach children the different kinds of energy resources and our energy grid.

Poland starts the project with the climate checks

Two schools in Minsk Mazowiecki, Poland have now officially started the project with the climate checks, conducted the Association of Municipalities Polish Network (PNEC) The schools are excited, that this is the starting point of their individual way to climate neutrality. Already, many possibilities on energy saving and reduction of resource consumption were identified during the first climate checks. The pupils raised a lot of questions and are already starting to develop about how to make the school more efficient. During the Climate Check, representatives of the school community came together, the project and the topic of climate neutrality were introduced, and data of carbon emissions due to the school building and activities carried out in schools was collected and discussed with the students.

Pupils are discussing various fields of climate action. Photo © Polish Network „Energie Citis“

Inspection of the schools heating system with pupils in a school in Minsk, Photo: ©Minsk Mazowiecki

School classroom in Minsk during a climate check, Photo: ©Minsk Mazowiecki