Beneficial pleasure. How Slavutych is transforming a costly social infrastructure into an energy-efficient one

Closure of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has transformed social infrastructure of Slavutych from the object of pride into a source of high costs. Almost one third of the town budget was spent on it. But for many years Slavutych has been insistently reducing its energy costs, with no damage brought to the social field. Slavutych is the youngest Ukrainian town. It was founded after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. The staff continuing to service three surviving energy blocks of the power plant moved to live here. At the same time, the town has become a symbol of solidarity with those affected by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. The first quarters were erected within a record time – over a bit more than a year. Several construction teams from different countries worked there (the then republics of the USSR): Azerbaidjan, Armenia, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine. Each country, each brigade kept bringing its best architectural projects. In general, the architects planning the future town applied a new approach. For instance, they paid more attention to the development of public spaces, cultural buildings, active leisure areas and sports activities, preservation of trees in the town. Therefore, Slavutych does not look like other Soviet towns built ten years before it. However, the town architects did not fully reject Soviet principles of construction. – In most Ukrainian towns, in particular, in Slavutych, social infrastructure was planned under the projects developed in the 1960-1980s. Then nobody thought about energy saving in buildings, – deputy town mayor of Slavutych, Viktor Shevchenko, speaks about the unreasonably large area of buildings of this domain. According to him, developed social infrastructure became a peculiarity and the object of pride for Slavutych. When in 2000 the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was finally closed, the town was faced with short-term reduction in population. But soon its population started rising again. One of the reasons for that is comfort in Slavutych. – Till 2000 most of those facilities were kept out of the profit from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. But when electricity stopped being generated there, all the buildings of social infrastructure were handed over to municipal property, – Viktor Shevchenko says that in the first years of maintenance 29 social facilities cost the town budget almost 30% of all the costs.

To energy efficiency under the plan

This year one more social facility – a hospital town – has been included into the inventory of Slavutych Town Council. But the town is sure that it will manage to maintain it. Since already for many years energy refurbishment projects have been implemented here.

Back in 2007 Slavutych was included into the list of energy-efficient towns and cities of Ukraine. Over two years Slavutych Town Council joined the program of the European Union Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and adopted its Sustainable Energy Development Plan for a decade ahead. Slavutych was to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emission by no less than 29%, as compared to 2000.

– The Action Plan is rather ambitious: the set of steps amounted to 140 million UAH, while the town development budget was on average 9-12 million UAH. It would be difficult to independently perform it, exclusively for local money. Therefore, Slavutych started looking for other sources of funding, – Viktor Shevchenko says that the town participated on a permanent basis in small and large international energy refurbishment programs of the EU and NEFCO corporation.

Slavutych got the chances of the most large-scale energy refurbishment in the town’s history town in 2014. The EU announced a Demonstration Projects tender among the towns and cities that were signatories of the Covenant of Mayors. The European partners were ready to undertake no more than 80% of the implementation costs. The application of Slavutych met their criteria. The town was to perform an energy refurbishment project for 926 thousand Euros (over 27 million UAH). Out of them only 204 thousand Euros (over 6 million UAH) were to be paid out of the local budget.

– At first we established energy management system, connected all municipal institutions in the town to the automatic control over energy spending. We selected two with the largest spending: kindergarten No. 1 ‘Kalynka’ and school No. 2. They consumed over 240 kW per square metre. That was class F under the international classification, – Viktor Shevchenko says that this figure is the lowest on the scale. But it makes us think that the facility requires refurbishment.

Therefore, in both institutions identical repairs were conducted:

  • old windows and doors were fully replaced with new metal plastic ones;
  • external walls were insulated with mineral wool, and the basement was insulated to the depth of 1.5 metres with foamed glass;
  • new automatic ventilation systems and recuperation systems were installed (allowing to individually regulate temperature in each room);
  • individual heating units were installed (automatically regulating temperature in the building, according to the changes in weather conditions outdoors).
“Kalynka” kindergarten (before – after)

– When we were installing windows in the school, even local foremen came to have a look at them. They are special – between double glazed units there is a special film to better retain heat. Foremen said that even the richest houses in Slavutych did not have it. Now they offer it to their clients, – says one of the project managers, Nataliya Hantimurova.

According to her, many technical parts of refurbishment were a novelty both for contractors, and for local residents: either plinth insulation or leveling window reveals not with gypsum plasterboard (it retains heat poorly), but with concrete and plaster. However, such were the EU requirements to the design. The standards for all municipal institutions in the town became the same.

Refurbishment of kindergarten No. 1 and school No. 2 in Slavutych was completed in 2017. A year ago the results of those works were calculated in the town. In the first heating season after insulation these facilities consumed by 44.2% heat less and reduced CO2 emission by 33.9% against the previous year. Due to that the town budget saved 938 thousand UAH.

School No. 2(before – after)

Nataliya Hantimurova says that refurbishment of these two facilities will not stop at that. The money saved over its implementation has already been used to replace the internal lighting system with a more efficient one. Also, the Town Council is preparing documents for replacement of the roof above school No.2. Only in this way will insulation be full-fledged.

Factsheet (download)

Being proactive

Demonstration project within the Covenant of Mayors in Slavutych was not limited to energy refurbishment of two educational institutions only. Viktor Shevchenko says that for the Town Council it was also important to develop energy and climatic consciousness of Slavutych residents.

– We can all see forecasts and trends: it is useless to hope for reduced tariffs of energy carriers. Therefore, we are trying to encourage owners of premises to reduce energy consumption by all possible means. That can be done even with no money spent on refurbishment: it is necessary to just change energy use habits, – says deputy town mayor of Slavutych.

Slavutych Town Council is ready to help the residents of Slavutych who want to invest into energy efficiency of their apartments. 10% of the amount of credit taken for energy refurbishment of buildings can be reimbursed from the town budget. Already over 200 residents have used the program, and in general they have received almost 300 thousand UAH of compensation.

– But the most efficient is our work with children. Adults see utility bills, count money – they treat all activities in a different way. But children in Slavutych are already learning modern principles of energy consumption and ecology. They already consider it to be a norm of life. And tell their parents about it, – Viktor Shevchenko tells about the latest component of the demonstration project.

He says that thanks to working with children Slavutych will get new opportunities for reduced energy consumption in the future. TV programs have been shot for them. Schoolchildren have been taken on excursions to the water and wastewater treatment plant, to boiler houses, for them to realize how many resources the town, in fact, consumes. Game classes were conducted with them: they were taught to sort out litter, to construct solar cells.

Also, during the demonstration project implementation, Slavutych Town Council established its Department of Energy Management. It will keep functioning after the program is over. Its task is to involve investment into energy efficiency projects, to conduct energy monitoring and energy audit as well as to exercise control over implementation of energy initiatives. And it is already yielding some results.

Over the years of implementation of the Sustainable Energy Development Plan, Slavutych has reduced CO2 emission by 31% and energy consumption – by 42.5%, as compared to 2000. In general, since all the buildings of social infrastructure were transferred to the town for maintenance purposes, over 45 million UAH have been used for their energy refurbishment. In general, over these years the town has got over 1.3 billion UAH of capital investment into the field of energy efficiency.

Today two more educational institutions are under refurbishment, thanks to the credit provided by NEFCO for the amount exceeding 8 million UAH. In the territory of the Town Council two thermal power plants are being constructed, and they will provide thermal energy for general town grids. Slavutych has handed over to contractors 50 hectares of land for construction of solar plant with the capacity of 20 MW. And the town will not stop at that.

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