One oft-cited strategy towards sustainability is improving energy efficiency inside public buildings. In this context, the educational buildings sector presents a very interesting and important case for the monitoring and management of buildings, since it addresses both energy and educational issues. In this work, we present and discuss the hardware IoT infrastructure substrate that provides real-time monitoring in multiple school buildings. We believe that such a system needs to follow an open design approach: rely on hardware-agnostic components that communicate over well-defined open interfaces. We present in detail the design of our hardware components, while also providing insights to the overall system design and a first set of results on their operation. The presented hardware components are utilized as the core hardware devices for GAIA, an EU research project aimed at the educational community. As our system has been deployed and tested in several public school buildings in Greece, we also report on its validation.