Comfortable energy efficiency. How schools and kindergartens in Zhmerynka are becoming more pleasant for children and teachers

Additional blankets for the rest-hour and classes in jackets. These are not just unpleasant reminiscences of the people who are now 20-45 years of age about autumns and springs in educational institutions. This is still reality for many children of Ukraine. Many institutions of Zhmerynka were also faced with this problem. However, the town managed to make the buildings of kindergartens and schools warm, at the same time saving over 20% of energy resources. After a rapid energy carrier price rise in the 2000s many Ukrainian cities had to considerably cut their budgets and optimize the costs of public facility maintenance. Old Soviet electric and heat power grids, accompanied with ‘leaky’ buildings, demanded a lot of money for their maintenance and utility service payments. This money could have been spent on the development of the cities’ and towns’ infrastructure. That is why the cities started looking for opportunities to reduce the costs of payments for energy carrier. The then-authorities of Zhmerynka, the same as most colleagues from the whole of Ukraine, were striving for economy and saw a great capacity in the gradual upgrading of the town’s economy. And the very initiative the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, launched by the European Commission in 2008, opened up some opportunities for large-scale upgrading. Its goal is to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by cities and towns. The Covenant could be joined by the municipalities from all over Europe. In 2009 the town of Zhmerynka joined the initiative. Within several years the Sustainable Energy Action Plan until 2020 was developed here. By that date Zhmerynka committed to reduce energy consumption by 23%. СО2 emission into the atmosphere in the town was to be reduced by 21%.

Significant changes in small steps

More than 70 steps were planned to attain the Action Plan objectives. They included repairs of the water supply systems and electricity grids, replacement of lamps, optimization of public transport network, waste sorting, etc.

Preparing this document, the Department of Economy of Zhmerynka Town Council counted that the industry and population spend the largest amount of electricity and natural gas in the town. Only one field the Town Council was in charge of was the leading one in terms of the costs: public buildings and heating networks conserved heat energy the least. At the same time, it was municipally-owned buildings that consumed the largest amount of heat in the town – over 42% of the overall scope.

Therefore, a considerable part of the measures within the Action Plan were related to this field: reconstruction of the heating system, replacement of boilers, use of alternative sources of energy and thermal refurbishment of buildings. The team of the Department of Economy started looking for external sources of funding to perform those tasks since it was difficult to perform them using just local budget resources, due to their scarcity. Many activities by 2020 would at least fail to be implemented without any external assistance.

We participated in different energy refurbishment programs, implemented small projects. But finally it was within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors of the European Union that we got the most substantial funding, – recalls the head of the Department of Economy of Zhmerynka Town Council Anatoliy Konoval.

In 2014 the European Commission announced a tender for demonstration projects among the Covenant of Mayors participants from Eastern Partnership countries of the EU. The cities and towns had a chance to submit their own applications for energy refurbishment. While the European partners, if the applications were approved, were ready to finance up to 80% of the implementation costs.

Taking into account the Sustainable Energy Action Plan, Zhmerynka decided to develop a heat energy saving project. The Town Council held preliminary monitoring of its consumption by municipal institutions. Two kindergartens (No. 3 and No. 4) and three schools (No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4) turned out to be the worst. The Department of Economy prepared an application for energy refurbishment of those buildings.

Sooner or later, that would have to be done. But the funding would have to be provided completely from the town budget. While in this way an opportunity appeared to implement a large-scale project involving external money. Instead of one facility we could improve five on the cofunding principle, – says the chief specialist of the Department of Economy of Zhmerynka Town Council Larysa Kuzmina.

Anatoliy Konoval adds that the Town Council agreed to allocate considerable amounts of money from its budget for this project, since the price of energy carriers is constantly on the rise. Also, finally the town got an opportunity to make those educational institutions comfortable for children and teachers.

Zhmerynka’s application was approved. The final version of the project included energy refurbishment of two kindergartens and two schools. Its overall budget was 913.7 thousand Euros. As of the date of the application approval, in the late 2014 this amount equaled almost 17.6 million UAH. That is a bit more than 11% of Zhmerynka’s budget for 2015.

About 80% of all the costs, 727.6 thousand Euros, were reimbursed by the European Union, while 186.1 thousand Euros were financed out of Zhmerynka’s budget. Finally, the Town Council undertook financing of energy refurbishment of school No. 2, that was not included into the demonstration project.

From several epochs

Finally everything is almost the way it should be. The corridors and classes have been repaired, the walls have been painted into pleasant colours, according to the requirements of the New Ukrainian School. We will move onand finish it off with the heating, – Tamara Bilan is happy to say while making an excursion of the school premises. The headmaster of Zhmerynka school No. 3 says that its buildings have become modern only over the last 4-5 years.

It all started when energy audit was made in all the educational institutions of the town. School No. 3 turned out to be among the worst. The head of the ‘Energy Go: Implementation of Sustainable Energy Action Plan of Zhmerynka’ project, Yevhen Tkach, states that he has never seen a building with such an inefficient heat consumption. Several serious problems could be found here.

First of all, the school consists of three buildings. The first of them was erected in 1912, the second appeared in 1972, and the third one was put into commission in 1984. Wall thickness in the first building is 90 centimeters, while in the second one it is only 40. Since they are connected, this resulted in the temperature imbalance.

In some places in one part of the building the temperature could be above 25 degrees, while in the otherbelow 15, – says Yevhen Tkach.

Secondly, it turned out that the heating system of the school was in a very poor condition. According to Yevhen Tkach, when a thermal imaging device was applied to the radiators, the device did not show any temperature rise. Actually, they did not heat anything. Under such circumstances, even in the period of the most intensive heating the temperature in the classes could be very low.

When finally one pipe was cut, we saw how dirty it was. Even a needle could not placed there, – says Tamara Bilan.

Over 2017-2018 Zhmerynka school No. 3 underwent almost complete energy refurbishment. The roof, the covering were replaced there, new windows were installed, walls were insulated, including the basement. Also, ventilation system with recuperation were installed, it controlling humidity in the premises and switching off automatically.

The repairs or replacement of the heating system in the school, due its bad condition, required quite an amount of money. The demonstration project did not presuppose such costs. However, finally the authorities of Zhmerynka found some finance for its gradual replacement, including the changes already launched. Now new batteries are being gradually installed here within the framework of the current repairs.

But changes are noticeable even without the new heating system. Even before the façade works were completed, when just walls were insulated, the temperature in the school stabilized – 20-21 degrees. Before that there had permanently been humidity, fungi in many classes. Over a year ago the refurbishment was completed and for more than a year we have not been recalling about it any longer, – summarized Tamara Bilan.

Her colleague, the headmaster of Zhmerynka school No. 4 Mykhaylo Bihun, had similar problems. The institution headed by him consists of one integral building, parts of which were built in different years: 1890, 1945, and 1990. Their walls were built of different materials and are of different thickness.

Any old large building has a problem: its end points, where the walls are the thinnest or where there batteries are the worst. We were also faced with such a problem. No matter what we did, in winter several classes definitely had very low temperature because of that. Over a year ago we insulated the building. Now we don’t have the problem of end points any longer, the whole building has the same warm temperature, – explains Mykhaylo Bihun.

In school No. 4 the roof and windows were also replaced, the walls and the basement were also insulated, the recuperation system was installed. Now the minimum temperature here is 20-22 degrees. Regardless of whether it is the heating period or not.

Sometimes it is hot here. Then I give a call to energy managers, asking to reduce heating in the boiler house a bit. But they say they cannot go lower than the minimum heating figures. We have to put up with it, – Mykhaylo Bihun is kidding.

Hot-water bottles, ‘blowers’ and mass diseases are in the past

Another educational institution – kindergarten No. 3 ‘Veselka’ – is the neighbour of Zhmerynka’s school No. 3. They even have a common boiler house. And they used to have similar problems.

We had to heat childrens beds with hot water before the rest-hour. Parents brought heaters. We switched onblowersto somehow improve childrens stay here, – recalls deputy headmaster of the kindergarten Halyna Kostiuchenko.

This institution showed the worst figures in the town in terms of energy efficiency parameters. In some groups the temperature even reached 12-13 degrees. Panel walls and old wooden windows did not keep heat at all. Thus, even high heating intensity did not improve the situation. According to Halyna Kostiuchenko, there used to be high disease rate in the kindergarten: about 12% children once or several times a year did not attend the institution due to their having caught a cold.

Therefore, this kindergarten was included into the demonstration project of the Covenant of Mayors. The heating system was replaced here, the covering, the façade, the basement and the foundation were insulated here, modern windows were installed, new ventilation and recuperation systems were installed. All the staff of the kindergarten was taught how to use new equipment.

Also, the heating system was replaced within the project. Now the institution has an individual heating unit that automatically determines the necessary intensity of the building heating. Also, this kindergarten has got a new water sewerage system. Implementation of the project has encouraged the Town Council to allocate money for the internal repairs of the building.

Insulation of the basement has enabled to move all administrative rooms here. Also, now instead of 6 groups we have 10. And the disease rate has fallen up to 4% a year. Children feel warm here: the temperature never goes below 20 degrees, – sums up Halyna Kostiuchenko.

Finally, the boiler house heating school No. 3 and kindergarten No.3 was upgraded thanks to the funding provided by the Town Council. A boiler was replaced here. Now not gas, but an alternative source of energy – wood – is used here for burning.

Another kindergarten that underwent energy refurbishment within the Covenant of Mayors project is kindergarten No. 4. It buildings showed somewhat better figures than pre-school educational institution No. 3. But there was a substantial problem here that was solved due to the demonstration project.

Side by side with kindergarten No. 4 there is a boiler house providing heat to several educational institutions. But such neighbourhood did not help. In the buildings located farther from the boiler house the temperature was much higher than in the kindergarten neighbouring with it.

The problem was partially solved when a new heating and thermal regulation system was installed in the kindergarten – that was done with own effort, even before the participation in the Covenant of Mayors projects. It became much warmer here. However, during energy consumption monitoring the demonstration project team recorded considerable losses of heat. It turned out that the building could be much warmer, and its heating costs – much lower.

The institution is 75 years old, the walls are thin. When the heating period started, we did not feel any discomfort. But there were some problems in autumn and in spring when it was cold in the street and there was already or still no heating. We always used additional blankets or heaters, – says the headmaster of kindergarten No. 4 Svitlana Siomash.

In this institution the roof has also been replaced, the façade, the covering and the foundation have been insulated, a new ventilation system has been installed. Now even without heating the temperature remains at the level of 20 degrees all the time.

Not just walls

The implementation of the demonstration project of the Covenant of Mayors in Zhmerynka has not been limited to energy refurbishment of four educational institutions. Anatoliy Konoval claims that it has changed the approach of the Town Council to working with the town’s infrastructure and keeps changing the mentality of citizens.

When we started implementing the project, we bought the ‘Enerhobalans’ program. We started analyzing consumption of all energy carriers (water, electricity, heat, gas) in all public facilities. Now we do this on a permanent basis and see where we have got problems with energy consumption, – says Anatoliy Konoval. In his words, the Department of Economy of Zhmerynka Town Council is already preparing projects for the refurbishment of other problematic municipally-owned buildings.

As far as school No. 3 and No. 4, as well as kindergartens No. 3 and No. 4 are concerned, the changes resulting from energy refurbishment became noticeable already in the first heating season – that of 2018/2019. According to the report made by the Department of Economy, during this period those institutions consumed in total 20.7% less of heat energy than in the previous heating season. That is, the Town Council saved some 426 thousand UAH for their maintenance. СО2 emission resulting from the heating of those buildings reduced by 31%.

Now heads of other educational institutions are more and more actively addressing Zhmerynka Town Council with requests for money allocation for insulation purposes or asking to include their institutions into other thermal refurbishment projects. Also, more and more citizens come to use the state program ‘Warm Credits’ for energy improvement of their buildings.

In the meantime, Zhmerynka keeps working at new energy saving objectives. The town has prolonged its membership in the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy until 2030.

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