Edison pursues its commitment to fighting climate change in a number of ways: from choosing the best available technologies to build new facilities to investing in renewables, from researching and developing technologies with a low environmental impact to offering energy efficiency services and green energy to its customers, and developing projects to educate students about energy conservation. The development of a culture that fosters awareness and concern for environmental issues is important, particularly during periods when, like in the current economic crisis, the climate emergency tends to be pushed into the background, allowing the use of more polluting technologies.
For these reasons, Edison, traditionally committed to creating a widespread culture of concern for climate and energy conservation, has focused for the past two years on reaching young people though the school system. This is because a sustainable future can be assured only if we change our daily habits, a goal that is best accomplished by starting in the classroom, where children are shaped into tomorrow’s citizens.
“Eco-Generation – Schools as Climate’s Friend” is the natural evolution of a ten-year collaborative relationship between Edison and Legambiente (the biggest Italian environmental Association) to promote sustainable development.
The purpose of this project was to create a series of effective environmental action centers by using a network of pilot schools that can then transfer knowhow about energy conservation, sustainable construction and renewable sources to other schools throughout the territory. The campaign covered a period of three years. The pilot schools were ten (lead schools) in ten cities in Italy (Milan, Monza, Pioltello, Varese, Padua, Verona, Ravenna, Scerni, Foggia and Palermo).
The project detected with a thermographic survey to test the energy efficiency of pilot schools located throughout Italy and detected the presence of any thermal anomalies that could adversely affect the efficiency and comfort of the buildings.
The survey, which was conducted in January and February 2010, showed that in all tested buildings appropriate actions could cut energy consumption by 50% to 70% from current levels. In the sample schools, average heat dispersion ranged between 250 and 350 kWh/m2 a year (kilowatt hour per square meters a year), for an average of 290 kWh/m2 a year. In addition, there was an extremely high concentration of CO2 in the classrooms of up to 2,800/3,000 parts per million, equivalent to 50/70 kg of CO2 per m2 a year, for an average of 60 kg of CO2 per m2 a year.
The most frequent anomalies included drafts of cold air through windows due to the poor quality of the fixtures, dispersion of heat from the radiators and heating systems, failure to insulate exterior walls and temperature changes caused by poor design. In addition, there were numerous problems invisible to the naked eye but with an impact on insulation, such as heat dispersion through housings of rollup shutters or from improperly insulated window-sills, which provide an easy path for heat dispersion.
Edison and Legambiente’s aim is to transform Eco-Generation into a permanent energy efficiency program that can be offered to all schools, local governments and the Ministry of Education.
The activities of the Eco-Generation project were planned combining the analysis of scientific data with the needs of local communities and involving all stakeholders through transparent communications that enabled all parties involved to recognize the project’s value added. Such a path is of great interest for a company such as Edison because of its significant impact on empowering and fostering a dialog with local communities.
In the first phase of the Eco-Generation project, an ad hoc program of activities was organized at each of the pilot schools to promote good sustainability practices. Stage shows, laboratories for budding energy managers, energy conservation cartoons, technical experiments, training for teachers and many other activities characterized the project at the different locations. In addition, the goal of energy conservation was pursued using different educational paths designed to encourage the adoption of virtuous practices, structured based on the type and level of the schools involved, local characteristics and the specific competencies of each school. At the end of this path, each school submitted a “Sustainable School’s Handbook” as a tool to upgrade the school’s building.
The best handbook was used as the “Charter of Quality Objectives for Sustainable Schools,” which all schools was encouraged to adopt. Specifically, the project calls for the pilot schools to test and actually implement the recommended remedial actions.
The final objective of the Eco-Generation project was to provide all schools in the territory with the “Charter of Quality Objectives for Sustainable Schools,” developed through the field work of the pilot schools, and the award of an “Ecoefficient School Stamp.” This project was implemented under the aegis of the Italian Ministry of the Environment and is a partner of the European Union’s Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign.
“Eco-Generation – Schools as Climate’s Friend” is also active on the Facebook social network, where for the first time a group is co-managed by a company and an NGO, as evidence of a relationship based on mutual confidence: https://www.facebook.com/events/209009979213151/