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Green Awareness in Action

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GAIA (Green Awareness in Action)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2019-05-31

The total amount of energy spent in our everyday life is quite significant, up to 40% of the world's total energy usage. In this context, reducing energy use in buildings by introducing new technologies is very challenging; across Europe, the rates of construction of new buildings as well as the rates of renovation of existing buildings are both generally very low. Similarly, energy consumption in transportation is growing annually, also making it very challenging to save energy in this sector. Therefore, it is evident that, in order to achieve the ambitious energy and climate targets for 2020 and beyond, we need a change in citizens' behavior and consumption practices.

The GAIA project focuses on the educational community; faculty, staff, students and parents at various levels of education: primary/secondary/high schools and universities. Targeting energy efficiency in the context of the educational community is clearly very important due to a number of reasons:

1. Raising awareness among young people and changing their behavior and habits concerning energy usage is key to achieving sustained energy reductions. At EU level, people aged under 30 represent about a third of the total population. Thus, by targeting this group of citizens we affect a large part of the EU population. Additionally, young people are very sensitive to the protection of the environment so raising awareness among children is much easier than other groups of citizens.

2. Educating children and young people to adopt energy-efficient habits will also indirectly affect their immediate family environment. It is common for children to communicate and showcase their newly acquired knowledge to their parents. Several studies document the ability of students to influence choices made by their families related to environmental issues. Since about 27% of EU households include at least one child under the age of 18, our targeted efforts of reaching families of children and young people will scale further to reach a large portion of the EU population and multiply the benefits through increased residential energy conservation.

3. Buildings are the pivotal center of our lives. About 75% of buildings in Europe are residential and cause a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Affecting the behavioral characteristics of the citizens' interaction with and within the buildings where they live, learn and work within the EU will have a great impact on the overall reduction of the energy consumption.

4. Historically, energy expenses in schools have been treated as relatively fixed and inevitable. Evidence shows that a focus on energy use in schools yields an array of important rewards in concert with educational excellence and a healthful learning environment. Educational buildings constitute 17% of the non-residential building stock in the EU. Since energy costs are the second largest expenditure within school budgets, exceeded only by personnel costs, significant savings can be carved out for reallocation to needed services, if energy consumption is reduced.

GAIA's objectives are summarized as follows:

a) Engage the Educational Community: Develop feedback mechanisms to notify the students/staff/parents on energy consumption at school, in order to raise awareness regarding environmental effects of energy spending, while monitoring their progress towards reducing energy consumption and successful behavior change.

b) Development of a Culture for Energy-Efficient Living: Educate students towards efficient energy spending by providing the necessary tools to the faculty towards a pro-environment behavior and sustainable living.

c) Utilization of Energy-Consumption Data to Improve Efficiency of Buildings: develop tools to support staff into becoming energy managers of the educational buildings, by analyzing energy consumption and comparison with other buildings to benchmark performance.

d) Competitions across Communities: Promote student-driven game-based com
In order to implement its ambitious goals, at the beginning of the project, GAIA focused on the IoT infrastructure used in its school buildings, along with the initial activities to provide educational content and functionalities supported by software in the project. Such activities laid the groundwork for trials in schools through establishing communication channels and procedures with the school communities at the early stages of the project. A software platform was developed, integrating the technological aspects of the IoT infrastructure used in GAIA’s schools, providing an integrated system. A set of end-user applications was developed and released in the first two years of the project, while also the design regarding the actual trials that are going to take place in the GAIA schools was shaped, with a set of limited trials taking place during school year 2016-17. A series of dissemination activities have taken place, initiating communication channels with the communities that are going to play a role in GAIA.

GAIA utilized the momentum created by the infrastructure installations inside school buildings and the early delivery of the application prototypes, to implement actual pilot activities inside school classrooms at 25 schools in Greece, Italy and Sweden during school years 2017-18 and 2018-19. This lineup of schools has translated to an audience for the project activities that consisted of several thousands of students and teachers, which participated directly in GAIA. Overall, 3165 students and 293 educators participated directly in GAIA’s activities, while the total number of students in these schools, which were also affected by the project, was 7500 for the school year 2018-19. At the same time, the GAIA Challenge was a big success among GAIA’s audience, with a total of 3762 user registrations from students and educators. A total number of 916 students participated in hands-on activities at their schools. Furthermore, schools implemented activities that led to energy savings for certain periods in the range of 15-20%, with some schools exceeding this figure.
GAIA created an innovative ICT ecosystem (including web-based, mobile, social and sensing elements) tailored specifically for school environments, taking into account both the users (faculty, staff, students and eventually parents through their children) and buildings (primary, secondary, high schools, university buildings) to motivate and support behavioral change to achieve greater energy efficiency. The developed solutions comprise an ecosystem of IoT deployments, services, applications and games focusing on different aspects of sustainability and energy efficiency.

GAIA deployed its solutions across 25 educational buildings located in Italy, Greece and Sweden. This lineup of schools has translated to an audience for the project activities that consisted of several thousands of students and teachers, which participated directly in GAIA. Overall, 3165 students and 293 educators participated directly in GAIA’s activities, while the total number of students in these schools, which were also affected by the project, was 7500 for the school year 2018-19.
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An overview of the school building facilities involved in GAIA