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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article25 July 2023European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency2 min read

LIFE project helps keep students cool in class

Students and teachers at a primary school in southwest Spain are enjoying cooler classrooms after natural solutions were used to adapt the school buildings to the impacts of climate change. 

Grasses, lichen, mosses and bushes planted by LIFE-myBUILDINGisGREEN in the Gabriela Mistral Primary School.
©LIFE17CCA/ES/000088. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

The Gabriela Mistral Primary School in Solana de los Barros - not far from the border with Portugal - is a showcase for the LIFE-myBUILDINGisGREEN project, which aims to enhance the resilience of social buildings and educational centres using Nature-based Solutions (NbS). NbS are solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, and that simultaneously provide social and economic benefits and help build resilience. 

Grasses, lichen, mosses and bushes were planted on the school’s roofs, facades and paved areas as part of a pilot project. Two years on, and the plants have grown sufficiently to reduce classroom temperatures by between 11 -15%.  

‘Although it takes several years for the vegetation to grow to an optimal state, we are seeing that the implemented NbS are already helping to reduce the temperature inside the pilot buildings by more than four degrees Celsius,’ explains Project Manager Miguel Vega.  

The school recently welcomed a team of representatives from the LIFE-myBUILDINGisGREEN project who spent two days collecting samples of different plant species, spiders and insects in order to monitor increases in biodiversity. Students and teachers also took part in the sampling as part of the curriculum - which, it is hoped, will inspire future generations to adopt sustainable practices. 

School Director Antonia Montevirgen is keen to involve the wider community. ‘The building is open to everyone who wants to know more about implementing nature-based solutions,’ she says.  

The sampling results will be compared to previous data to provide insights into how local biodiversity increases as a result of implementing NbS and the importance of integrating nature into urban environments. Additional sampling is planned for two other pilot buildings in Portugal, specifically in the cities of Évora and Porto. 

‘This initiative has demonstrated that climate change can be faced through sustainable alternatives,’ says local mayor Miguel Ángel Gallardo. ‘I greatly value the high commitment of the local educational community to the project and to our regional strategy for adapting buildings to climate change.’ 

LIFE-myBUILDINGisGREEN is organising a conference from 19 to 21 September to share the first results of the project and bring together experts working on the use and promotion of NbS. You can register for the conference here.


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