Energy Efficiency

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1253–1277 | Cite as

Improving energy use in schools: from IEQ towards energy-efficient planning—method and in-field application to two case studies

  • Luísa Dias PereiraEmail author
  • Francisco Bispo Lamas
  • Manuel Gameiro da Silva
Original Article


Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and energy conservation in schools are complex challenges. A significant part of the energy demand in these buildings addresses ventilation and temperature indoors. When confronted with money/energy constraints, the tendency of school boards is to cut on IEQ requirements, compromising the comfort of the occupants or worse, their health. Besides local energy production, either electrical or heating, major focus on building management systems’ (BMS) operation has been suggested, aiming at developing evidence-based energy conservation measures. Based on two field studies, a joint approach of energy and IEQ auditing was developed, establishing a state of the art of the current situation of the secondary schools in Portugal. The present study aims at enhancing energy efficiency in schools unveiling that it is possible to improve the HVAC systems’ operation and optimize energy use and costs, while maintaining good environmental conditions. This paper also seeks to contribute to the implementation of energy efficiency plans (EEP) in school buildings, presenting a comprehensive methodological approach on energy consumption in this typology of buildings, centred on the fundamental role of BMS and their proper programming. The obtained results show that there is a considerable potential for reducing energy consumption and improving energy use—in one of the schools by simply adjusting the BMS operation schedule, a decrease between 20 and 36% of the useful thermal energy consumption is expected (14.1–24.7 kWh/m2); in other occasions, a significant IEQ improvement is expected due to longer HVAC running period.


Energy efficiency planning School buildings Occupancy information Energy management Responsible behaviour Building management systems 



Energy Efficient Schools project (in Portuguese: Escolas Energeticamente Eficientes)


Air handling unit


Building automation and control


Building management systems


CO2 concentration


Cathodic ray tube


Domestic hot water


Energy conservation measures


Energy efficiency plan(s)


Energy manager


Energy Performance of Buildings Directive


European Union


Energy use indicator


Electronic variable-speed


Ventilation efficiency


Gross floor area


Heating degree days


Heat recovery unit


Heating ventilation and air conditioning


Indoor air quality


Indoor environmental quality


Indoor unit




Montemor-o-Velho (school located in)


Matosinhos (school located in)


Mechanical ventilation


Natural gas


Percentage of dissatisfied


Fresh air flow rates (m3/h)


Research and development


Energy Certification System (in Portuguese: Sistema de Certificação Energética dos Edifícios)


Air temperature


Thermal comfort


Total useful floor area


Variable refrigerant flow



The presented work is part of a wider research project, entitled Energy Efficient Schools (Escolas Energeticamente Eficientes, 3Es), granted by Teixeira Duarte on the framework of the Portuguese Program of R&D Projects associated to Large Public Tenders. The authors are thankful to Parque Escolar E.P.E. for the provision of the database on the Portuguese secondary schools. The presented work is framed under the Energy for Sustainability Initiative of the University of Coimbra and LAETA (Associated Laboratory for Energy, Transports and Aeronautics) Project Pest E/EME/LA0022/2011 and was supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology under grant SFRH/BD/77105/2011.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ADAI, LAETA – Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of Coimbra, Rua Luis Reis SantosCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.University of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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