Main Area

Environmental Performance


Energy Efficiency in the Schools

The Connected Urban Development (CUD) programme was born out of the Cisco company’s commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative for the reduction of carbon emissions. The founding cities were San Francisco, Amsterdam and Seoul. In 2008 four more cities were included in the programme, one of which was Lisbon.

In addition to Cisco, the CUD programme for the city of Lisbon has partners such as Lisbon City Council, EDP (electricity provider) and the Ministry of Education, through Parque Escolar. In the context of the Parque Escolar Secondary School Modernisation Programme, and as an integral part of the Connected Urban Development for Sustainable and Connected Schools, the Ministry of Education and Parque Escolar are working closely with Cisco to test the EnergyWise programme in a school environment.

The overall objective of this approach is to develop and test all the components of a more sustainable and energy efficient school, combining energy savings with the generation of local renewable energy in order or achieve substantial reductions in the carbon footprints of the pilot schools for this project. The results will also be used as educational material, with the aim of encouraging students, parents and teachers to participate and creating awareness of climate change issues in the school universe. In 2008 the project was launched in a pilot phase in three Lisbon schools. The specific aims are:

  • to reduce energy costs and minimise emission of greenhouse effect gases;
  • to monitor the energy consumption of allfacilities connected in network and achieve aggregate energy consumption reports that produce a clear understanding of the energy habits and consumption of the schools;
  • to optimise overall energy consumption through the creation and dissemination of savings policies amongst users (administrative staff, teachers and pupils);
  • to regulate energy consumption using the information technologies and infrastructure networks.

The purpose of the pilot project is to improve the education experience through use of ICT, serving a fundamental factor in increasing the productivity and efficiency of the school through administrative activities, dematerialisation and simplification of processes.

In terms of energy efficiency, the ultimate goal is to combine energy savings derived from the intelligent use of technological solutions such as Cisco EnergyWise and behavioural change in the use of energy and the local generation of renewable energies, so as to achieve a substantial reduction in energy consumption and the carbon footprint.


What is being tested here is a concept centred on the people and applying a user-friendly approach, supported by an economic and environmental model that makes it possible to establish replicable sustainability metrics on a global scale. The effective launch and beginning of operation of the EnergyWise pilot phase took place in 2009, with the following activities being carried out:

  • Cisco-sponsored IP telephone systems were installed in the pilot schools with the aim of testing as wide a range of technologies possible. They now complement the range of ICT equipment the schools in the Modernisation Programme are already equipped with – Ethernet and wireless, computers, video projectors, interactive boards and video surveillance systems;
  • with a view to testing, within the scope of the Programme, the integration of the ICT component with the buildings’ lighting and HVAC systems, an advanced Centralised Technical Management system, provided by Schneider, was installed in Rainha Dona Amélia Secondary School that allows for the centralised monitoring and management of said equipment; also with the support of Cisco, a pilot project for control of access to the classrooms was launched with the aim of testing the potential of integrated command of the ICT and Centralised Technical Management systems;
  • construction of the EnergyWise project’s Value Case, which, in addition to giving Parque Escolar a more detailed idea of the results of the project and similar roll-out scenarios, is part of the toolkit that can be shared with any other city wishing to implement a similar project;
  • implementation of the pre-Beta version of EnergyWise in the management of the network of personal computers, switching and wireless access points in the school, through establishment of active equipment management policies, achieving savings of around 30% in the energy consumption levels normally registered.

Promotion of Renewable Energies
Saving Energy

As the culmination of the policies for the monitoring and efficient management of energy consumption outlined in the Parque Escolar environmental strategy in partnership with the Connected Urban Development programme, the concept of making school buildings energy self-sufficient through the production of locally renewable energies has emerged.

As far as thermal solar energy is concerned, all schools are being prepared to produce hot water for the shower rooms using solar energy installations complete with support systems. These installations are already up and running in schools that are now in the operation phase.

With the goal of enabling, on the one hand, evaluation of the technologies available in the renewable energies market and, on the other, testing the respective operation modalities and energy generation potentials, the decision was made to advance with implementation of the Renewable Energies in Schools programme with pilot photovoltaic and wind energy installations in the four schools in the Modernisation Programme’s Pilot Phase: de Dom Dinis Secondary School, Dom João de Castro Education and Training Centre, Soares dos Reis Artistic Secondary School and Rodrigues de Freitas Secondary School.

These pilot installations, which have a capacity of 20 to 25 Kw in terms of photovoltaic energy and 5 to 6 Kw in terms of wind energy constitute the first phase in the installation of power generation plants in schools.

The goal of the Green Schools Programme is to turn 350 schools into mini energy generation sites, thus contributing to:

  • the development of a decentralised energy model that focuses on generation alongside concern with consumption, bringing benefits in terms of reduction of network needs and reduction of transport losses;
  • increasing the renewable energy generation in Portugal;
  • reducing energy dependence on outside sources and reducing CO2 emissions;
  • boosting the renewable energy and energy efficiency-related industries.

The short and medium-term challenges for Parque Escolar in energy matters are:

  • supporting implementation of alternative renewable energy projects in the schools;
  • monitoring consumption and energy savings. Here one should highlight the need for close monitoring of the reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions;
  • maintenance of facilities and installations as a way of maximising energy generation.

Reduction of Consumption

Energy consumption in schools is a major concern to Parque Escolar and it has outlined a set of measures aimed at reducing consumption. These measures, which are applied wherever possible in schools that undergo interventions, include:

  1. Installation of capacitor batteries – with these it is possible to keep the power factor at a high level while reducing costs;
  2. Intensification of preventive maintenance – carrying out regular maintenance in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions in order to maintain efficiency levels of equipment and minimise outage, keeping the lighting system duly clean and regularly replacing filters in HVAC equipment, etc.;
  3. Uniform distribution of loads – uniform distribution over the three phases when supplying single-phase equipment from a tri-phase network, thus avoiding current imbalances and circuit overloads and resulting in less overall losses;
  4. installation of frequency converters – he installation of frequency converters can result in energy consumption savings of around 50%;
  5. Sectioning lighting circuits – turning off emergency and presence lighting at night, weekends and during holidays;
  6. Reduction of compressed air pressure – reducing compressed air pressure to minimum levels;
  7. installation of flow reducers – installation of flow reducers in flow meters, sinks, toilet flushes and showers;
  8. improvement in watering systems – programming of the watering systems in line with water needs, type of soil and the system used. Use of rainwater for watering systems wherever possible and economically viable;
  9. improved lighting – implementation of diverse measures aimed at reducing energy consumption;
  10. Building structure – control of heat and natural lighting gains from glassed spans through installation of appropriate shade-providing devices and equipping the schools with shades in non-glassed spans that are dimensioned so as to receive the sun’s rays in winter and protect from them in summer.

As part of its School Energy Consumption Reduction Plan, Parque Escolar calculated the investments required for achieving significant annual savings. A standard school with approximately 800 pupils functioning 180 days a year served as the basis for the calculations.



Investments to be made in sanitary installations, consumption data with timed water taps and flow reducers with a minimum efficiency of 40%

Sanitary installation Cost (€)
Sinks 617

Flow meters


Toilet flushes






Possible annual water consumption savings with flow reducers

Type of cost

Cost (€)



Cost without reducers


Cost with reducers





Annual electricity consumption savings with good practice consumption profile

Type of cost

Cost (€)

Computer equipment


Emergency lighting




Promoting Environmental Safety

Asbestos is a natural mineral fibre extracted from certain types of rock, which, when mixed with agglutinants, produces diverse materials containing asbestos, such as fibre cement, insulating and fire-retardant materials and other highly durable building materials.

The risk involved in asbestos essentially stems from the possibility of inhaling its fibres, which can become lodged in the lungs, where they can remain for many years. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), all types of asbestos are potentially harmful.

Although removal of fibre cement containing asbestos is only mandatory when it is reached the end of its life cycle (Decree-Law no. 101/2005 of 23 June), Parque Escolar has assumed removal of fibre cement sheeting on roofs as part of the modernisation interventions. The fibre cement is removed in accordance with the applicable legislation.

The removal process is a meticulous one, in an effort to avoid releasing fibres into the air. The material is duly packaged and transported to authorised dumps. Workers must wear due protection and the removal operations must be accompanied by air particle measurements, with a view to protecting both workers and nearby users. These operations are included in the Health and Safety Plans, both at the design project and construction work levels, and are reported in advance to the Authority for Working Conditions.

The removal improves school health and environmental safety.

The school building renovation plan also encompasses the planning and provision of facilities for the collection of solid waste in the schools and the respective selection and transport to the exterior, which requires the construction of collection and storage spaces until the waste exits the schools for treatment and recycling.

To date, more than 200,000 m2 of asbestos has been removed from 109 schools, mainly in the form of fibre cement sheeting and vinyl floor coverings containing asbestos.



Number of schools, by district, where asbestos has been removed since the beginning of
Modernization Programme

District Nº of schools






Bragança 1
Coimbra 5
Évora 4
Faro 8
Guarda 1
Leiria 6
Lisboa 26
Portalegre 2
Porto 21
Santarém 5
Setúbal 8
Viana do Castelo 2
Vila Real 1
Viseu 2

Protecting Biodiversity

As part of its Secondary School Modernisation Programme, Parque Escolar contracts a team of designers for each intervention project that includes a landscape designer. The landscapers produce their designs taking into account existing greenery in the school grounds and the following objectives:

  • enhancement of the school surroundings, providing the school community with agreeable green spaces adapted to the local reality;
  • protection of local biodiversity;
  • expansion of existing green areas.

The landscaping plan promotes the transplantation of trees wherever possible. Trees/bushes are to be felled only when they are already dead or are detrimental to the growth of other trees or when they are not appropriate for school environments and constitute a health risk.

Parque Escolar does not fell or remove protected species.

No Parque Escolar activities in 2009 were located in or next to protected zones.

One concern of Parque Escolar and its designers is to keep existing green spaces in school grounds and, wherever possible, to expand them. However, the need to comply with programmes and new requirements in terms of accessibility and comfort sometimes make a few sacrifices necessary.

The goal in each school project is to always have a positive end balance in terms of increasing gross green surface area and diversifying plant life.

The Landscape Design Manual Parque Escolar makes available to its service providers serves to normalise these principles and concerns so that they are more easily reflected in the landscaping projects for the schools.

Post-intervention balance of trees and bushes in the Lisbon and Southern Portugal Regions.