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Hamburg - Germany

The "fifty/fifty" project (Germany) - Teachers and pupils take greater responsibility for their school and the environment


The fifty/fifty project was the first energy-saving project in Germany to be based on a system of financial incentives. It enables the schools to get a share in the saved energy, water and waste costs. 50% of the money saved is returned to the school, where it can be reinvested into new energy-saving devices, equipments, materials and extra-curricular activities. For instance, several schools bought solar panels with the money earned.

1.8KW Photovoltaic-plant was installed at the Gymnasium Hummelsbüttel

The project started in the city of Hamburg. It was intended that the trial project would last for three years in different types of schools, with 24 schools taking part initially. By July 1995, 40 schools were involved and by autumn 1996, 60 more schools had joined in. Since January 1997, fifty/fifty has become a standing project and has been extended to other German cities, e.g. Berlin.

Since then, this concept has also been applied to municipal buildings other than schools.

Building details

Type of building : Schools
Year of project start : The "50/50 project" was launched in October 1994 in a number of schools.
Buildings participating in Display® : 470

Project Description

Aim The department of Environment of the city Hamburg, which takes care of the energy and water consumption at schools, saw it as an opportunity to save energy and money and to make children aware of their environment and its problems and to encourage them to engage in environmental protection.
Key points How the project is organised

_ A team was set up in each school – teachers, the caretaker and a member of the staff management team. Their job was to inform the school about the project and their plans to implement it. The members of the team reported back to the Environmental Authorities and ideas and problems were brought together from all schools.

_ Some schools set up teams of pupils – the ‘Energy Team’, the ‘Lighting Team’, the ‘Electricity Team’, etc. to monitor energy and water consumption. Undertaking monitoring encourages the pupils to think about energy waste and on how to save water and energy.

In most cases, it was the teachers who initiated the ideas and monitored the procedure. Many of the suggestions were integrated into lessons – some subjects lent themselves more readily to this work but in the arts class, for example, posters were made to advertise the project.

_ How is the energy saving measured ?

2 Solar thermic plants were installed at the Gymnasium Hummelsbüttel Gym for water heating

_ Special equipment was installed to monitor the progress of the project in the schools. Each school was responsible for recording its progress and the results were monitored by the environmental department of the municipality. Each school had to develop its own methods of carrying out the work within the restraints of its facilities.

Meanwhile a team of 4 people (3 teachers, 1 administration secretary) supervises the schools activities, collects all the data from the schools in a very efficient databank, hands out an annual report of consumption and savings of the electricity, heating, water, waste. In addition, the schools get benchmarks which enable them to classify their activities.

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example The idea for this project originated in the environmental department of the city of Hamburg (Umweltbehörde) and was warmly welcomed by the City Council of Hamburg.

Costs & Benefits

Costs & funding The initial costs incurred for this project by the City Council of Hamburg were considerable but were balanced out by the great savings in energy and water made by the schools.

The cost of the project is now around 5% of the savings. That’s why the schools get a reduced reward : not 50% anymore, but only 45% of the saved money.

Benefit After 12 years the 470 schools have saved 21.8 Million EURO (=10%), 100,000 tons of CO2, 355 GWh of heating energy, 49 GWh of electricity and 391,000 m³ of water.

Partners & Roles

Partnership details - Environmental Department
- City Council of Hamburg (and later other German cities)
- Participating Schools


Achievements The fifty/fifty project is now being carried out in all schools in Hamburg (about 470 in total) Berlin (around 220 schools participating), Bremen and other German cities and is also being established at schools in Japan, Greece and Spain. A school’s savings can amount to an average of 2.400 Euro per year being put back into each school.

_ Since 1997, the project has been extended to other environmental areas such as waste disposal.

By saving energy, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced and the environment is protected. The results in the trial period show that by the end of 2005, the fifty/fifty schools of Hamburg had reduced their emissions of carbon dioxide by 10 – 11%.

Lessons Learnt The first year was the hardest. Everyone needed to be organised, determined and committed to the project. Results were not immediately obvious but once the project had been up and running properly results soon began to show.

The credit goes largely to the commitment of the teaching staff who contributed to the project’s success and to the city administration, who ensured that this project became well established and that the schools received their money continuously.

_ Also, the success of the scheme depended very much on the exchange of knowledge and experiences in implementing the project and on the teamwork of the various user groups. Many more schools throughout the whole of Germany enquired about participating in the project.

To know more

Organisation name Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg

Behörde für Bildung und Sport (BBS)

Contact Hartmut Sprick,



Hamburger Str. 131,

22083 Hamburg

Tel : +49 (0) 40-428 63 – 4960

Telephone +49-40-42863-4960/-4958/-4959/4963

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