Transforming Schools: sustainable solutions to real needs

Prize: Total max. 15,000 USD

Status: completed


Colbún S.A. ( is a Chilean company dedicated to the generation, commercialization and provision of electricity and energy solutions. They intend to create and share sustainable value with the communities that host their projects.

Colbún Foundation looks for creating value primarily in the sectors of greatest need of the environment where Colbún is present. They intend to become a reference in social innovation through the management of social projects, in public-private partnership, especially in strengthening and modernizing access to energy and water (SDGs 6 and 7) for these communities.

Colbún Foundation together with Colbún S.A. are promoting the program "Transforming Schools: sustainable solutions to real needs”. The programme aims to support rural schools in the municipalities where Colbún S.A. is located by incorporating sustainable and innovative improvements for real needs. Their final goal is to improve the quality of life in school districts through thermal comfort, energy, water supply, waste and/or sustainable gardens.

The goal of this challenge is to meet the needs of two municipal schools, neighboring the activities of Colbún S.A. in the region of Valparaiso:

Rio Colorado School, in the municipality of San Esteban, Province of Los Andes, which is located next to the Andes mountains and has 53 students (-32.86191708411078, -70.42243671854345); and the Abel Guerrero School, in the municipality of Quillota, specifically in the sector of San Pedro (-32.93772866646521, -71.27235153810943), which has 250 students. Both schools have very high rates of school vulnerability. The academic year runs from the last week of February to the last week of December, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m..

Sustainable solutions 

We understand sustainable solutions as those approaches, practices or actions that address current and future challenges in a balanced manner, taking into account environmental, social and economic aspects in the long term.

A sustainable solution seeks to minimize the negative impact on the environment, promote social and economic justice, and ensure the long-term viability of natural resources and systems.

The challenge

In this context, the following specific problems have been identified for these 2 schools, in 3 specific areas:

1. Water:

The supply of water for the Rio Colorado school is sometimes interrupted due to lack of pressure from the general water distribution network. This is due to the increase in the number of homes connected to the network; as well as system breakdowns dating from the 1970s.

Although the quality of the water is good, sometimes there is no available water to cook, and when they cannot prepare food for the children, they need to send them home, with the consequent interruption of classes.

The school has a small storage tank, but it is not enough to ensure the necessary supply for daily activities.

Local regulations require running water, properly chlorinated and controlled, not sourced from graywater or similar.

Technical data and documentation are attached as annexes:

  • ANNEX 1: Data Rio Colorado School (ENG & ESP)
  • ANNEX 3: Summary of Drinking Water regulations (ENG & ESP)
  • In order to see the annexes it is necessary to register on and sign up for the challenge

2. Thermal comfort

In both schools the temperature inside the classrooms drops excessively in the winter period, to values of 5 to 8ºC. Due to this problem, sometimes classes need to be interrupted to exercise and warm up (Rio Colorado School) or students should wear extra coats (Abel Guerrero School).

This is partly due to the poor insulation of classrooms for cold weather. In addition, the humidity is very high through the floor in the school of Rio Colorado. This issue is still pending.

This school has improved the windows, incorporating double glass with air chamber and PVC carpentry, but it is not enough. Classrooms do not have a heating system to achieve the comfort parameters according to the requirements of Energy Efficiency and Environmental Comfort government guidelines.

The need for cooling in summer is not so necessary, except for some classrooms in the school of Abel Guerrero, where temperatures reach 32ºC.

Sometimes small gas stoves are put in one of the classrooms, but they are not enough, also causing an unpleasant temperature contrast.

The Rio Colorado school belongs to the Andean climate region 9An and the Abel Guerrero School belongs to the climate region Central Interior 5CI.

Technical data and documentation are attached as annexes:

  • ANNEX 1: Data Rio Colorado School (ENG & ESP)
  • ANNEX 2: Data Abel Guerrero School (ENG & ESP)
  • ANNEX 4: Summary Guide to Energy Efficiency and Environmental Comfort in SCHOOLS (ENG & ESP)
  • *ANNEX 5: GEEE: School Energy Efficiency Guide (ESP)
  • *ANNEX 6: TDRe: Standardized Terms of Reference with Energy Efficiency and Environmental Comfort Parameters for Tenders (ESP)
  • In order to see the annexes it is necessary to register on and sign up for the challenge

3. Energy supply

Apart from the gas used in the few stoves, the electrical energy of the school comes from the grid, not having any self-consumption system, nor a system that guarantees a minimum of electricity supply in case of a power failure.

What we are looking for

We seek for the design of innovative solutions that solve some of the problems listed in the previous section, keeping a sustainability focus:

1. Water: Design of a system to ensure water availability under current conditions. Water quality needs to be also considered.

2. Thermal comfort: Design and selection of insulating materials to ensure thermal comfort (with temperatures within local regulations) in one of the classrooms of the Río Colorado school and in one of the classrooms of the Abel Guerrero school, and a heating system to complement it.

3. Energy: Proposal of energy sources to cover the new energy needs (water supply and thermal comfort consumptions) contributing to the sustainability of the school, and if possible, to self consumption.

In addition, this challenge will value the clarification (and materials) on how the proposed solutions could contribute to the education in sustainability of the children: proposed activities, experiments, academic presentations, workshops, etc. which demonstrate the value of actions from an educational point of view.

Evaluation criteria:

  • Implementation feasibility in the schools environment
  • Simplicity in acquiring and maintaining technology locally
  • Easy to adopt and use by the community
  • Requires minimum cost (Capex and Opex)
  • Higher degree of solution innovation
  • Contributes to education on sustainability

This is a challenge with the following deliverables:

A PDF document that includes:

  • Technical description of the proposed solution
  • Detailed specification of equipment and facilities (drawings, materials...).
  • Required investments (cost estimate).
  • Explanation and materials on how it would contribute to children’s sustainability education (activities, experiments, academic exhibitions, workshops...)

In addition, you can add attachments to support your solution.

Challenge duration

This is 1 round challenge with the following durations:

  • 7 weeks for submission (the deadline is August 28, 2023)
  • 4 weeks for evaluation


This is a challenge with 3 awards (total max. 15,000 USD) for the best solutions in the following categories:

  • Water:  2,000 USD for the winner + 3,000 USD for implementation support*
  • Thermal comfort: 2,000 USD for the winner + 3,000 USD for implementation support*
  • Energy: 2,000 USD for the winner + 3,000 USD for implementation support*

*In case Colbún needs support to implement a winning solution (and the winner/s agrees), a maximum budget of 3000 USD will be allocated to support travel expenses.

In addition, visibility and recognition will be given to the challenge winners through digital media, both Colbún S.A. and DLC and Ennomotive.

--------------------------- Particular Terms and Conditions ----------------------------


According to general terms and conditions

Intellectual Property

In the case a patented solution is provided or, as a result of this challenge, a new technological solution or application with IP rights is delivered, participants will retain their intellectual property rights and Colbun will only keep the rights of use for social impact projects.

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