Climate protection, learning by doing.

Energy-saving schools and learning workshops: schoolchildren become efficiency experts

Project Profile

Project Title: “Profit participation for user-based energy and water saving in Frankfurt‘s schools“ ( energy-saving schools)“

Subject Cluster: Education

Project Objectives: Energy saving and reduction of CO₂ emissions in schools through modified patterns of use. Implementing the project with school children integrates the topic as a field of activity, learning and experience into paedagogical practice. Sensitising children, young people and und participating adults for sustainable development.

Project Participants: Municipal education authority, the Energy Management unit in the Building Department, Umweltlernen in Frankfurt e. V.

Project Start: Pilot project 1998

Project Title: Learning workshops „Climate and Energy“

Subject Cluster: Education

Project Objectives: Applying innovative teaching methods to make the use of energy or water and its impact on the environment recognisable and tangible. Schoolchildren learn to deal with energy competently and responsibly to act in line with sustainable development.

Project Participants: Mainova AG, Energy Department Frankfurt, Umweltlernen in Frankfurt e. V.

Project Start: 2002 with the learning workshops „Wind“ and „Heat“

Contact: Katja Bühring-Uhle, Umweltlernen in Frankfurt e. V.

Frankfurt’s school classes are turning their schools into energy-saving schools. This saves lots of energy, protects the climate and makes the schoolchildren specialists in energy efficiency – a contribution to local climate protection and also to education for sustainable development.

In the light of the aims Frankfurt has given itself in the „Masterplan 100 % Climate Protection“ – 100 percent regenerative energy supply and 50 percent energy-saving by 2050 – schools are very special buildings. They are both municipal buildings whose energy-saving potential must be used and places of learning where schoolchildren can be introduced to climate protection and sustainable action at an early age. The „Save Energy Project“ in Frankfurt’s schools and the learning workshops „Climate and Energy “ are extremely important elements in this respect.

Lowering energy consumption and learning how to save

In 1998, the Schools and Public Works Departments, in cooperation with Umweltlernen in Frankfurt e. V., started a pilot project for energy-saving in schools.

Are lights and electrical devices left on even though the room is not in use? Is the temperature controlled by opening and closing the window? Do the users know about airing properly? The children explore the school buildings with the caretaker and teachers looking for energy leaks with measuring instruments. They then develop information about potential saving for everyone in the school. Half of the savings go directly to the schools, the other half is used for municipal energy-saving investments.

Developing energy management with schoolchildren

Well-functioning energy management inside the school also provides a solid basis for saving. Schoolchildren, teachers and caretakers form an energy team which develops, organises and implements a plan of action. Analysing consumption data and usage habits help find individual solutions for the school.

Classes learn to set thermostats properly or switch off the lights in the longer breaks. Caretakers can turn off individual radiators, regulate windows or remove fluorescent lamps in over-lit rooms. Other suggestions will motivate the parents to join in. At parents’ evenings parents are told about energy saving. After all, energy-saving at home also supports the work in class.

Umweltlernen in Frankfurt e. V. and the Public Works Department support the schools with mediation and further training. An energy coach helps the school facility managers.


The volume of CO₂ emissions saved by Frankfurt’s 110 energy-saving schools in 2014 alone. Energy consumption was reduced by 12,000 MWh, saving 1.3 million euros.

Success in reducing CO₂ emissions – and costs

Frankfurt’s 110 energy-saving schools cut energy consumption by 12,000 MWh and CO₂ emissions by 4,000 in 2014 alone, saving 1.3 million euros. The work in the energy teams also tells the children, young people and the adults a lot about using energy and water resources carefully.

The aim is to integrate all of Frankfurt’s schools in the energy-saving project and make educational programmes on climate protection and energy standard in schools.

Learning workshops – teaching sustainable action realistically

Besides energy-saving projects, there are also learning workshops on „Climate and Energy“. These are linked to Science and Social Studies and make using energy and water and its impact on the environment tangible.Competency-based learning workshops are based on a “method-mix” of lectures and discussions in class, work in small groups, interactive games and learning stations, where children examine different aspects of the topic with experiments, research work and games. The schoolchildren acquire the skills needed to grasp complex relationships and to act sustainably themselves. Learning workshops can motivate children and young people to look critically at consumption, everyday products and their own lifestyle.The following learning workshops are offered on energy and climate protection: electricity, “Energie schlau nutzen”, wind, heat and the passive house. About 500 school classes have visited one of these learning workshops since 2002.

Energy efficiency

In-school energy management; schoolchildren search for energy leaks and learn careful use of energy; half of the savings go the schools, the other half to the city for energy-saving investments.

Climate protection

Schools as municipal buildings help save CO₂; children, young people and involved parents are introduced to climate protection and sustainable action.

Learning by doing

Interesting method-mix; experiments, research work and games bring climate and energy to life; understanding complex relationships; critical look at own lifestyle.

Umweltlernen in Frankfurt e. V.

Katja Bühring-Uhle

Tel +49 (0)69 212-30130