The Regional Office for the Promotion of Industrial Occupations in Developing Countries at the Peter Lenné School has worked together with the Knobelsdorff School and the Förderzentrum für Internationale Studierende und Wissenschaftler inside e. V. [centre for promoting international students and scientists] to design a house for renewable energy forms on the school's site in Steglitz-Zehlendorf. It has been designed as learning lab, in which biogas in particular is to be generated through the rotting of biomass.
What is special about BELARE?
BELARE is an educational energy source, a complete educational concept. BELARE is a building in which mental energy is released for sustainability.
With BELARE, the intention is to demonstrate how climate change can be countered with renewable energy. BELARE makes it possible to experience renewable energy in all senses – not only through tests and analyses in the laboratory but also through the construction of simple devices for energy recovery in our workshops, through the cultivation of suitable plants on our school site and in our greenhouses, through the collection of biomass in our animal stalls and in our fields and through the recycling of refuse as manure for our school garden. Expressed in short: With BELARE, we students can make the generation and utilisation of renewable energies tangible.
"Why are you not conducting the tests in your chemistry labs? Why do you need an external lab?"
you may ask me. The results of analysis would certainly be the same, I would reply. But also:
BELARE focuses on the future problem of energy supply on the basis of a very manageable building shell (single storey, 11 m x 11 m). The students are involved in the energy supply because they analyse, check and - insofar as possible - control the recovery of energy. They learn directly how renewable energy is produced and what efforts and ideas are required in order to generate energy once fossil fuels are no longer available and if nuclear risks are to be avoided. BELARE generates direct consternation and thus encourages interest in the sciences and discussions about the students' own futures.
Today, we are convinced that combined energy from various renewable energy sources is the only form that can contribute to climate protection, to energy security and thus to social equality. This combination of biomass, sun, wind and geothermal heat should be clearly represented by BELARE.
With the construction of BELARE we also make an additional contribution to climate protection. The biomass that accumulates on the site of the school due to livestock and plant production (approx. 150 cbm/p.a.) has simply been composted to date and not used for energy purposes. The rotted material is also posing an increasing problem for the school because this volume can only be used to a limited degree on the site itself. Furthermore, the organic waste generated by the livestock – primarily slurry – and the leftover food from the school canteen have not been used for energy purposes in the past either. Costs to the environment that arise with the disposal of these materials can be almost entirely saved by using them in the biogas plant.
In addition, the biogas plant planned for BELARE could process the potential biomass from the directly neighbouring facilities (Zinnowwald School, Pestalozzi School, Ernst-Reuter Stadium, cemetery, Fischtal Park and the sports fields of Hertha 03 Zehlendorf and Z88), thus proving of considerable benefit to the area around the school in "Hartmannsweilerweg".
Following discussions with other education institutions, synergy effects are already becoming apparent as a result of BELARE:
The state school for technology in Berlin is presently using our plan for two of its projects and would like to later expand on this cooperation for the practical education of environmental and process engineers. BELARE is also being used by the TIEM college in order to compliment its assistant course in "renewable energy technology and energy management". The LISUM has also indicated its interest in teacher training as have the VHS and the district of Steglitz-Zehlendorf for advanced courses at the grammar school.
If one also considers that participants of our school's "Regional Office for the Promotion of Industrial Occupations in Developing Countries" from Third World countries are also offered courses in "renewable energies" and "water management" then investment in BELARE is not simply significant at local level.
On the contrary: With BELARE, Berlin can "score" far beyond the city's limits. It does not have to be the whole world at once: The BELARE house, designed as a structural and curricular "finished product", could certainly act as a pilot and exemplary model for similar sites across Germany. We are naturally not the first school to place focus on climate protection – passive houses, wind turbines, solar panels and pavilions are commonplace, but we are unique in presenting the energy combination with a biomass laboratory.
The theoretical reason for developing BELARE was also the declining interest of the students in sciences and the associated lack of appropriately trained teachers, engineers and technically trained specialists. We want to make science lessons interesting once again. The success of this is far greater if it can be experienced in the form of visible applications and if it conveys the importance to the students' futures.
Perhaps BELARE is too small to make a large step for mankind, but is it certainly a important step in the right direction - education for sustainable development.
Our school has set itself on the path to ecological renovation with its highly dedicated staff. A unique student project on the subject of "water management" was implemented almost 1:1 by the Senate Department for Town Planning two years ago. At the end of the 8-year amortisation period, the state of Berlin is set to save over €30,000 per annum.
If we wish to achieve a vital objective of our school's program – to become a "competence centre for bio energy" - then BELARE is a significant step towards this.