Kalamata's Pilot City Activity - SchoolHeroZ: A Holistic Roadmap to Net Zero Schools




Kalamata’s pilot activity builds off two priority areas identified in the city’s Climate City Contract, energy consumption in buildings and mobility. As such, the pilot focuses on reducing transport and buildings related emissions, the two biggest contributors to the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions, at 26% and 60% respectively.

Kalamata’s pilot activity places the school ecosystem at the centre of its  climate actions, capitalising on schools  unique position of being community hubs where diverse groups converge, acting as a springboard for wider community involvement and city-wide dialogue on climate action.

The pilot activity consists of scalable socio-technical solutions with interventions focused on the energy consumption of school buildings, and mobility related to school drop-offs and pick-ups (home-school-home journeys).

The pilot activity will include technological interventions for data collection, data monitoring, and awareness raising and nudging to facilitate behaviour change, stakeholder mobilisation through the creation of a novel governance model and capacity building and learning activities.

The pilot activity will address barriers and challenges related to:

  • the lack of digital infrastructure and mechanisms to collect and monitor data;
  • limited citizen understanding of personal and collective impact on emissions;
  • lack of platforms to facilitate citizen participation in decision-making processes.

Description of Activities

The pilot activities are tailored towards school communities and will deploy:

Technological solutions

  • Digital Twins will be created for 6 pilot schools, a Schools Community Digital Twin to support the establishment of an energy community for schools, and a central digital platform to collect data and monitor the impact of emissions from energy generation and consumption and mobility.
  • A citizen engagement application to facilitate behaviour change toward more sustainable mobility choices for school drop-offs and pick-ups, which will incorporate route planning and best route suggestions, and a ‘nudging’ feature to support shifting to more sustainable transport options.

Governance solutions

  • A novel governance model for participatory decision-making consisting of a Steering Group, a Green Investment Committee, and the Kalamata4NetZero Lab with Thematic Forums of Change.

Awareness raising and capacity building solutions

  • A series of citizen (pupils, parents, teachers) awareness and behaviour change initiatives, via the launch of ‘Net Zero school community challenges’ addressing fundamental lifestyle changes at school, on the way from home to school and vice versa,
  • a multi-pronged capacity building and learning programme for stakeholders involved.


To develop scalable socio-technical components that will support large-scale interventions on school ecosystems and beyond, acting as the springboard for a systemic transformation towards climate-neutral behaviours at individual, school and municipal levels.

Are the pilot activities building upon or part of a previous and/or existing activity?

  • Kalamata has started their journey in establishing an energy community for schools. A solar panel system with a Virtual Net Metering mechanism has been fitted to one of the pilot schools. The solar panel system is expected to produce approximately 124 600 KWh annually. The system will be connected to the low voltage network of the Hellenic Electricity Distribution Network Operator which will supply electricity to a group of schools.
  • Kalamata has several initiatives in place tackling mobility including improving road safety, installing solar powered lights, introducing micro-mobility and reducing traffic congestion.
  • The city has established the Development Organisation ‘Αειφόρος Πόλη’ (Sustainable City Kalamata), tasked with managing the city’s climate initiatives under the Cities Mission, to identify funding opportunities and ensure that the Kalamata’s sustainability efforts are effective. This has laid the foundations for the inclusive governance structures that will be developed during the pilot.

Which emissions domains will the pilot activities address?

  • Consumption of electricity generated for buildings, facilities, and infrastructure

  • All vehicles and transport (mobile energy) 

Systemic transformation – levers of change the pilot activities will exploit

  • Technology/Infrastructure  

  • Governance & Policy

  • Democracy/Participation

  • Learning & Capabilities 

  • Data & Digitalisation 

Stakeholder types that the city would like to engage in the pilot activities 

  • Academia  

  • Research Institutions

  • Citizens

  • Public/Private Partnerships

  • Business

  • Local NGO, Associations

Transferable features of the pilot activities to a Twin City/ies 

  • A framework for a novel governance model to steer the city towards inclusive climate action consisting of a 3-tiered system: task force/steering group, green investment committee and the Kalamata4NetZero Lab.
  • Kalamata4NetZero Lab functions as the nucleus for citizen engagement where diverse stakeholders, from municipal departments, academia, local business chambers, and citizen groups, collaborate. This includes the direct participation of School Climate Ambassadors—a pupil and a teacher from each participating school—to foster a strong school-community link. The Lab will also host Thematic Forums of Change which consists of specialised focus groups that support the active participation of community members and co-creation of targeted climate solutions.
  • Digital Twin Toolset, Central Digital Platform and Engagement App for enhancing citizen understanding and participation in energy management and sustainable mobility.
  • Lessons learned from applying the COM-B model targeting communications for behaviour change (enhancing capability, opportunity and motivation)

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

Enabling conditions that will support the successful replication of your pilot activities in the Twin City

  • Political motivation/willingness to establish new governance models that will break down silos among municipal departments, will lead to more efficient processes (e.g. approvals). This will provide citizens with a common vision and sense of ownership over the city’s climate neutrality journey, and will facilitate easier citizen involvement in decision-making, in the long-term enhancing the sustainability and impact of the replicated pilot activities.
  • Ability of the Twin City to identify, mobilise and coordinate a variety of local stakeholders, and gain their support, as well as availability of skills/knowledge/experience and best practices/tools to inspire citizen and stakeholder engagement (e.g., in relation to communicating the benefits of the pilot activities, addressing concerns, and feedback mechanisms).
  • Supportive local human resources and expert networks (e.g., from local/regional research institutes) that can assist the Twin City with the deployment of behaviour change initiatives suitable for the local socio-cultural environment.
  • Substantial number of school buildings/communities (infrastructure).
  • Supportive economic/financial context: The Twin City’s potential to access and mobilise funding sources for energy efficiency improvements (e.g., installation of solar panels and energy storage systems, micro-mobility charging systems).
  • Compatibility/integration of the digital tools developed in this pilot with the Twin City’s digital infrastructure and technology systems.
  • Infrastructure that is available or is being prepared so that the city’s population can opt for more sustainable mobility options (e.g., bicycle lanes, micro mobility charging systems, etc.).
  • Although not a pre-requisite, a Twin City with a similar geographic/demographic profile might benefit more: Kalamata is a coastal city, a popular tourist destination with a port and an airport, and approximately 73,000 citizens.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.

What does the city want to learn from Twin City/ies?

  1. Learning from the Twin City’s experiences (‘good’ and ‘bad’) in motivating, mobilising, uniting, and coordinating diverse stakeholders (including local businesses) to commit to climate action, to exchange knowledge, and to participate in decision-making processes, via novel governance models that help the city and its stakeholders to shift from fragmented approaches and work together. This knowledge will help the city in a subsequent step, which is the creation of a hub that will bring together different innovation ecosystem actors and will enable experimentation with innovative solutions (e.g., via a living lab) that will in turn accelerate its transition to climate neutrality.
  2. Exploring other cities’ experiences in using new ways of engaging citizens and understanding their needs, priorities, concerns, and barriers, and activating long-term behaviour change via innovative and effective approaches (top-down or bottom-up). This important learning need touches upon the following aspects: i) how cities have introduced/educated citizens on energy-saving concepts, and have mobilised them towards more sustainable choices (e.g. via the creation of one-stop-shop energy efficiency offices), ii) how they have instigated substantial modal shifts in citizens’ mobility choices (specifically shift from driving to other sustainable mobility options, like walking, cycling, e-micromobility, etc.), iii) how they have inspired local businesses or local large organisations (e.g., hospitals, universities) to offer sustainable commuting nudges to their employees.
  3. Understanding how other cities use data in transparent ways to model, predict, monitor and evaluate citizen engagement and progress on energy and mobility emissions reduction, as well as social and economic benefits, and subsequently, to inform decision-making. In addition, understanding other cities’ strategies to communicate these data insights and create narratives about resulting benefits that foster city-wide behaviour change in ways tailored to  diverse stakeholders.
  4. Identifying novel funding (and risk-sharing) mechanisms and models for investments that aim to tackle climate change, such as creation of city-wide energy production and  sharing communities, energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy investments, and mobility infrastructure enhancement (e.g., public-private partnerships, crowdfunding, incentives to private actors, ventures, offsetting, refundable advances, etc.). It is also of  interest   to learn from other cities  how they have overcome regulatory/legal barriers that have restrained the deployment of such funding mechanisms.

This answer is not exhaustive and simply an indicative one.