The project has overall managed to overcome the covid-19 complications and fulfill its milestones according to the schedule. In particular, the transformation of the eleven selected schools to Climate Shelters was completed as early as October 2020, whereas upscaling was initiated in 2021 through the integration of the project to the “Let’s transform our school yard” program of the City Council of Barcelona. Some communication activities were postponed due to restrictions for events with physical presence; on the contrary, the re-operation of the schools supported the exploitation of the technical solutions by the school community. Finally, the impact of the project on such sectors as environment, well-being and health is at present under evaluation.
The Journal (the 3rd for the project) aims to provide an overview of the progress of the Climate Shelters project, with emphasis given to the progress made in operational challenges: (a) communication, (b) evaluation and monitoring, and (c) upscaling. Finally, the challenges for the remaining period towards the conclusion of the project (October 2022) are also described.
2. The Climate Shelters project at a glance
Barcelona’s answer to overheating includes the innovative pilot project to adapt schools to Climate Change, with the aim to develop a network of Climate Shelters around the city. The project has a duration of 3 years and is supported by the Urban Innovation Actions (UIA) of the European Commission.
The Climate Shelters project reflects considerable innovation as locally differentiated blue, green and grey technical solutions were implemented to eleven schools, following a co-creation participatory process. Climate Shelters are also open to the city residents and visitors, acting as cooling spots in the event of excessive heat or heat waves. The timeline of the project is presented in Figure 1; at present state, the project has reached Steps 6 and 7.
Fig 1. The timeline of the Climate Shelters project.
In particular, the work carried out at the selected schools refers to:
- Blue infrastructure: inclusion of points providing water, such as drinking fountains or unique places for children to play with water.
- Green infrastructure: more green space, improvements in vegetation and the creation of shade with green walls, more garden space, trees, green pergolas and fencing.
- Grey infrastructure: adaptation of buildings to improve insulation, with canopies, awnings, protection for façades and cross ventilation.
The creation of the Climate Shelters enabled 1,000 square meters of natural space to be regained, with vegetation in playgrounds and the creation of 2,213 square meters of new shade using pergolas and awnings. In addition, 74 trees were planted and 26 new water sources installed.
3. Overview of the operational challenges
There is strong political support to the project and its continuation.
The early preparedness of the City of Barcelona with respect to climate change adaptation, facilitated the smooth implementation of the Climate Shelters project as well as to its integration to the city’s climate actions.
The continuation of the project is supervised by the Barcelona Consortium of Education (CEB).
CEB managed to organize the procurement process and conclude the interventions per school in a timely manner.
The maintenance plan for the Climate Shelters has been developed and is under implementation by CEB.
The Climate Shelters project achieved a solid cross departmental collaboration and working.
A pending challenge is to sustain the cross departmental working in the upscaling phase of the project.
A thorough co-creation participatory process was promoted and was closely followed at all stages of the project.
The 4th and concluding participatory process has been completed at all schools, with positive assessments by teachers and students on the transformation of the schools to Climate Shelters.
The participatory process of the Climate Shelters project is an excellent showcase of urban governance with and for the citizens, namely decision making as close as possible to the citizen, open deliberations and finally co-creation of technical solutions.
Performance Indicators were defined for the periodic evaluation of the results of the Climate Shelters project.
A sophisticated evaluation of the project's results is undergoing, in terms of the impact to environment, well-being and health.
Preliminary findings demonstrate the potential of the project to ameliorate heat in the school building and yard and overall improve well-being in the schools' environment.
A set of videos (on the project and its results, on the methodology and the pedagogical approach applied) have been developed and widely distributed over the network and social media.
Videos per participating school were also prepared in support of developing a sense of ownership of the project.
The communication of the project's results to local communities as far as the impacts to environment, well-being and health, is a pending challenge.
The Climate Shelters project has been integrated to a new program of the City of Barcelona named "Let's transform the school yards", a fact ensuring its sustainability and enhancing its replication potential.
The program preserves the participatory processes of co-creation and capitalizes on the knowledge gained through the implementation of the Climate Shelters project.
A pending challenge is to sustain the monitoring and evaluation dimensions of the Climate Shelters project.
4. Detailed analysis of the operational challenges
Τhe project has enjoyed strong political support by the Mayor of Barcelona, from its inception and throughout all of its phases. This is an important aspect not only for the timely implementation of the project but also for its sustainability, for instance through its integration to the overall climate policy of Barcelona.
Furthermore, the project is coordinated in its upscaling phase by the Barcelona Consortium of Education (CEB), namely an experienced entity of the City of Barcelona, with the support of a team of experts, with strong complementarities with respect to their specialization and capacities. Continuity in the overall coordination structure is proven beneficial for the progress of the project.
An issue deserving special consideration is that the Climate Shelters project took advantage of the early preparedness of the City of Barcelona with respect to climate change adaptation. In practical terms, the urban ecology program of the City of Barcelona paved the way to the definition of the climate priorities and subsequently to the development of Barcelona’s climate plan. The latter has acted as the framework for the integration of the Climate Shelters project to the overall climate plan of Barcelona.
The integration of the Climate Shelters project to the overall climate plan of the City of Barcelona is demonstrated in the announcement of the City of Barcelona, regarding the network of 155 specially conditioned spaces that have opened up during a last summer heat wave; the network also included the eleven schools which were converted to Climate Shelters through the UIA project.