The Virtual Foundation - your donation makes it happen

Energy Conservation in Central European Schools

Region: Central and Eastern Europe, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia
Author: EPCE Czech Republic, Brno
Consortium Member: EPCE Czech Republic
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $33000 Collected: $0 Needs: $33000
Goal: To expand the "Energy Conservation in Schools" program in Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Funding is needed for regional coordination and for core operating expenses in each country.
Comment: This program has a proven record of success. Through citizens' energy audits and action plans, installation of energy-saving equipment and adoption of conservation measures, the program saves money, reduces pollution, and strengthens communities.

Project description

In 2000 the ENVIRONMENTAL PARTNERSHIP foundations teamed up with some 20 partner organisations to develop the Energy Conservation in Schools program to promote practical energy conservation as well as increase awareness of energy issues.

The program focuses on getting school children directly involved in saving energy in their schools and other community buildings. Though the program varies somewhat from country to country depending on different needs and conditions, the basic approach is everywhere the same: the foundations and partner organisations offer educational programs on energy to schools and assist them in developing "Energy Teams". The teams, which often include teachers and parents as well as schoolchildren, perform simple energy audits and develop action plans for implementing energy conservation measures in their schools.

The best plans and accompanying activities are rewarded with investment (about $ 1,000) for their implementation. The performance of these energy conservation measures are then monitored and the results publicised and promoted. Among the criteria for project selection are not only the potential for energy conservation, but also support from other sources, including local government and business, as well as involvement of different people from throughout the community.

Case Study 1: Bialy Kosciol, Poland / Elementary school (2000-2001)

The primary school in the small village of Bialy Kosciol, just 20 km from Krakow in southern Poland, is one of the over 100 schools throughout Poland that have participated in the Energy Conservation in Schools program. The energy audit and energy conservation plan that schoolchildren worked out with teachers, parents and school officials provided the basis for negotiations with the local government and firms. As a result, the 1,000 USD that the program awarded to the school was far outstripped by the investment ultimately raised, which was enough to replace the school's furnace, all of its windows, and to introduce energy-efficient light bulbs. "Much of that investment came from the municipal government, but the impetus and leverage for raising the money came from the Precious Energy program," says Wieslawa Graglewska, the school's dynamic director. "Without the program, none of this would have happened."

Case study 2: Przyslop, Poland / Przyslop Elementary school (2000-2001)

In the small village of Przyslop in southern Poland close to the Slovak border, energy conservation has been an important focus for cooperation between the small elementary school, parents, local officials, and even a monastery, who are fighting to keep the small school from being closed due to recent reforms in the educational system. With the inspiration of a nearby „environmentally friendly„ Carmelitan monastery, locals are turning the small school into an environmental center capable of promoting sustainable development in the region as well as carrying some of the costs of keeping the small school open. The Energy Conservation in Schools program has provided the first step toward fulfilling this vision, and mobilized enough local resources to make one classroom energy efficient, including installation of new windows, energy saving light bulbs and improved temperature regulation.

Case study 3: Levice, Slovakia / Elementary School No. 5 (2000-2001)

Virtually everyone connected with Elementary School No. 5 in Levice in Slovakia got involved in saving energy at the school, including a total of 51 teachers, 750 pupils, school administrators, parents, members of the parents association as well as local businesspeople. Pupils formed teams that measured energy use in classrooms and looked for opportunities to achieve energy savings. A number of teachers focused their lessons on energy, from art to science and writing. Among the results of the work of the volunteer work brigades that were organized to implement energy conservation measures were: 250 large windows insulated, 14 doorways fitted with new thresholds, all broken windows repaired, 300 light bulbs replaced with energy efficient ones, all vents cleaned.

Chief results of the program in 2000-2001


Energy remains one of the most pressing environmental and economic problems in Central Europe. Production and consumption of energy has a major impact on the quality of air, water, and soil as well as the structure of the landscape. Nevertheless, a decade after the fall of the Iron Curtain, intensity of energy use in Central Europe remains two to three times higher than in many Western European countries. Particularly energy use in public buildings and households remains little changed, and in some instances has even worsened. In fact, public awareness regarding energy issues is much lower in Central Europe than in Western countries, where energy issues became popularized especially through the energy crisis in the 1970s.

Schools have some of the greatest potential for energy savings in Central Europe. Yet the benefits of energy conservation are scarcely known among school administrators and local officials and seldom used. At the same time, schools are a natural place to start raising awareness of energy conservation and energy issues, particularly as school children take what they have learned home and pass it on to their parents, neighbours and friends.

Our longer-term aim is to use this program to generate pressure on respective governments to become more forceful in promoting energy conservation. Many schools in the region, particularly those in rural villages and small towns, still serve as the center of their community. Initiatives focused around these schools can bring together not only teachers, children and their parents, but also local government and business leaders. Particularly in societies that are still dealing with the legacy of Communism, practical community-based projects focused on schools can demonstrate the value of personal initiative – the best proof that change is possible from below.

Previous support

In 2000-2001 the Energy Conservation in Schools program was supported by a grant of $80,000 from the Honeywell Corporation (about $48,000 went directly toward implementation of energy conservation measures, with the remainder covering NGO work with schools, development and printing of educational publications, and management). Despite considerable achievements, support from Honeywell has been suspended due to the corporation’s planned merger with General Electric and dissolution of the Honeywell Foundation. The program showed its great potential, but no future funding is secured at the moment.


To continue the program, we are seeking $33,000 to cover regional co-operation and core operational costs. Additional funds can be raised from within each country (e.g. from State Environmental Funds) to top off support for NGO work with schools as well as to cover costs of actually implementing energy conservation measures.

Support from the Virtual Foundation is needed for:
Regional Coordination
Regional coordinator (1/2 time, including insurance, benefits, office costs) $6,000
Regional coordinator - travel $600
Regional coordination - telecommunications, postage $1,400
Two regional workshops for program organizers from PL, SK, CZ, HU (includes travel, food and lodging) $2,000
Country programs - total costs
Country coordinator (1/4 time, including insurance, benefits, office costs) ($3,500 /country) $14,000
Country coordinator - travel ($300 USD/country) $1,200
Country coordination - telecommunications, postage ($700 /country) $2,800
Two country workshops for program organizers, key participants ($500 /country) $2,000
VF Administrative Fee$3,000
Total requested from the Virtual Foundation: $33,000
Support from other sources covers:
Work with schools ($5,000 /country) $20,000
Publications ($3,000 /country $12,000
Energy conservation measures - awards of 1,000 USD for best energy conservation plans ($10,000 /country) $40,000
Total from other sources: $72,000