The work has focused on three main areas: Blue measures, related to water; green measures, increasing the amount of vegetation, trees and green shaded areas; and grey measures, to improve the insulation of buildings, façades and roof protection and awnings to increase the amount of shade.
Barcelona takes a qualitative leap forward in adapting the city's schools to the climate emergency. The city has turned 11 schools into climate shelters, above all to tackle high temperatures, with surroundings that provide greater thermal comfort for students. Outside spaces have been transformed, under a collaborative process between authorities, organisations and schools with educational projects involving children from every school to decide on the specific initiatives.
These initiatives have been carried out thanks to Barcelona City Council's funding of the Urban Innovation Action (UIA) project, a European Commission programme for adapting schools to climate change. This project aims to find and test new solutions to the sustainable urban development challenges that are faced by all EU members.
11 schools, climate shelters for educational communities and for neighbourhoods
A total of 11 city schools have already been turned into climate shelters, in order to adapt to the climate emergency and, above all, to tackle high temperatures with surroundings that provide greater thermal comfort. The shelters may also be used by the general public during the summer months, in the event of a heatwave. The project is funded by Barcelona City Council and run by the Barcelona Education Consortium.
The initiatives carried out in these schools focused on three main areas:
- Blue measures, related to the installation of water features, such as drinking fountains, or separate areas for playing with and handling water.
- Green measures, to increase green areas, improve the vegetation in schools and create shaded areas, with green walls, more space for gardens, trees to create shaded areas and green fences and arbours.
- Grey measures, adapting school buildings to improve insulation, with roofs, awnings, façade protection and cross ventilation.
These initiatives have helped to reclaim around 1,000 square metres of natural land with plants in school playgrounds, replacing concrete surfaces, and 2,213 square metres of new shaded areas have been created with arbours and awnings. A total of 74 trees have also been planted, equivalent to the number of trees found in two Eixample city blocks and 26 new water points have been installed.
The project began in the 2019-2020 school year, when the schools started to work with the organisations that were also taking part, in order to define the transformations to be carried out at each school. Therefore, the adaptation of these spaces has also included an educational side, given that the children have actively taken part in designing the climate solutions and continue to assess the resulting actions.
Now that the measures have been completed, all the project participants will be monitoring the results of the interventions, in terms of health and climate comfort. There will also be an environmental impact assessment, in collaboration with ISGlobal. Sensors were placed in all 11 centres to measure various parameters before starting the work and now that the transformation is complete, factors such as temperature, humidity, ventilation and air quality, among others, will continue to be monitored. Meanwhile, the Barcelona Public Health Agency has been monitoring the impact on health. By means of various questionnaires and interviews, i.e. using various qualitative tools, the comfort and well-being of the children and adults has been analysed, in relation to the new spaces.
The transformation of the outdoor areas of these schools is based on innovation, as they are considered to be a new concept of climate space that has never been seen in the city before, and which also coincides with the goals of the Climate Emergency Declaration. By next summer, these spaces will be added to the list of climate-shelter facilities, in the event of a heatwave.
Barcelona City Council, the Barcelona Education Consortium, the Barcelona Water Cycle, the Barcelona Public Health Agency, ICTA-UAB, the Barcelona Global Health Institute and the Vila Olímpica school have all taken part in this European project. A total of €5 million was invested in the project, with 80% covered by the European subsidy.
Barcelona City Council has also made a commitment to dedicate at least 25% of municipal investment for school renovations in the coming years to actions that adapt educational centres to the climate emergency. This reinforces a line of action that has already been followed in recent years. This summer, renovation and improvement work relating to the climate emergency has been carried out at 56 schools, with an investment of €3,674,465.26. The City Council has exclusive responsibility for the renovation and improvement of municipally-owned school facilities and the city's state infant and primary schools, which is carried out through the Barcelona Education Consortium.