Energy-efficient consciousness. How hospital refurbishment launched a new culture in a small town

A three-time reduction of energy consumption. Such result is achieved in Voznesensk through refurbishment of two buildings of the town hospital. Though the project has not been completed yet, but it has already yielded unexpected positive results for the whole town.803 thousand Euros, or 23.7 million UAH. For a town with the population of 35 thousand residents and annual budget of almost 400 million UAH that is quite an amount. These are the costs envisaged for energy-efficient refurbishment of two buildings of the town hospital in Voznesensk – a policlinic and a pediatric unit.When the last works are over, energy consumption in these two buildings of the Soviet-time will go down by 62%. For the staff and patients of the policlinic and the pediatric unit that will also mean comfortable temperature throughout the year.Energy-efficient refurbishment of the hospital in Voznesensk has been going on since 2015. Under the project, 80% of the costs are funded by the European Union. Other funds – 167 thousand Euros – are to be allocated by the town authorities. But over the years of the project implementation its performers have identified new needs of the hospital buildings. Therefore, in total already over 200 thousand Euros, or about 6 million UAH have been allocated for the refurbishment from the budget of Voznesensk.– The town would probably never cover the funding for the project alone. But when the European Union declared its readiness to help and to provide 80% of the money – the rest, even with additional costs, could already be allocated, – says the Head of the Department of Energy Management, Municipal Initiatives and Investment of Voznesensk Town Council Oleksandr Zayika.According to him, energy efficiency constitutes one of the town’s development priorities. Since it will enable to further significantly save budget expenditure in Voznesensk. The money saved can further be invested into new development projects.

The first step towards the future


– We were the first in Ukraine to approve Sustainable Energy Action Plan, – Oleksandr Zayika takes a pile of papers from the cabinet. All the documents related to the work of Voznesensk Town Council within the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (initiative of the European Union, helping local self-government bodies improve energy efficiency in their towns and resist climate changes) are there.

Voznesensk was among the first in Ukraine to join it – in 2009. The then government of the state was just launching energy efficiency policy, adjusting it to the European principles. In Voznesensk they were already working at the development of refurbishment steps.

– When we started restructuring the plan in the office of the Covenant of Mayor, we found out that it had been compiled in a wrong way. There were no methodologies in Ukrainian to calculate it, – Oleksandr says that in the first year they had to study a lot of pages of English-language profile editions or to calculate the indicators on their own.

That impeded the movement of Voznesensk in the performance of the terms of the Covenant of Mayors. But in 2010 the town finally approved its Sustainable Energy Action Plan. And already three years later the town authorities decided to submit a specific refurbishment project.

– Here we again understood that we lacked experience. And we invited an alien organization – PAUCI foundation – to develop the project application, – Oleksandr enumerates the facilities, among which the most energy intensive ones were selected: kindergartens, schools, hospital buildings. Resource consumption accounting had been in place in the town back from 2008.

They focused on two hospital buildings. Since the building of the policlinic had the highest energy consumption per square metre out of all the buildings, but the lowest temperature. In the pediatric premises energy losses were also high. But at the same time it was hot in this building throughout the year. That created discomfort for patients and doctors.

– According to our estimations, in these two buildings we could reach the best figures – reduce energy consumption by 62%, – Oleksandr explains the final argument in the choice of facilities for the project. The buildings constructed in 1978 and 1989 were in for substantial repairs.

Innovation costs are savings costs


– Today it is the first time that we have opened this entrance, – says chief physician of Voznesensk multi-profile hospital Volodymyr Krasiokha going to the door of the policlinic, lifting the red-and-white tracing tape in front of the facade. That is the main entrance to the building. So far it is closed for visitors since the works of external wall finishing are not yet over. According to Volodymyr Krasiokha, soon patients and doctors will have a chance to again use it.

Refurbishment of the building was to be completed back in the previous year. But the chief physician says that lack of consistency of the norms of the Ukrainian legislation with the requirements of the European Union set to the project, inconsistency between contractors’ capacity of complying with the technical parameters of the works and frequent inspections made by law-enforcement bodies have caused a delay in the repairs completion.

In general, refurbishment of the building of the policlinic was conducted in several separate stages. Primarily, a new membrane roof was installed. The old slate roofing was leaking and did not keep heat in the building. Also, the heating system was fully replaced here and an individual heating unit was installed. The new system will automatically react to the change of ambient temperature and facility’s functioning regime. Hence, in the policlinic itself the amount of heating energy will be increased or reduced.

Also, for the first time starting with the construction of the building the ventilation system will function in it on a full-fledged basis. Its old channels were located at the technical storey (attic), so no fresh air was coming into the building. Now ventilation has been correctly refurbished and relocated to the roof. Besides that, on all new plastic windows of the policlinic fresh air valves were installed. These devices will ensure additional ventilation of the premises. The level of humidity goes down in the premises, while the temperature remains at the same level.

In addition to all new windows, new terraces have been arranged. The old ones stretched along the whole façade. Due to their excessive area cold air from the outside could easily get to the ground floor of the policlinic. Now these are separate points of entry. In winter hot air flow coming from them will cut away the external cold. Volodymyr Krasiokha cracks a joke that such ones could be found only at the entrances to supermarkets and trade centres.

Finally, the refurbished façade of the building of the policlinic is ventilated. That is where the finishing material is fixed not to the wall itself, but to a metal frame fixed on it. An insulator – mineral wool – is laid in the cavity between them. Hence, air freely circulates in between the two surfaces. It will not allow moisture to get accumulated there. In the building of the policlinic only this stage of refurbishment remains to be performed. And the whole project will be over. 

– It is too early to talk about specific figures. We could not test the refurbished building in full this winter. But taking into account the new heating, ventilation systems and almost completed insulation, it may be said that it was warm this winter in the policlinic for the first time, – says Volodymyr Krasiokha.

The bright walls of the pediatric unit can be seen from behind the policlinic. In the background of the marsh-green façade of the first building, this building seems to be fully refurbished to the outside. But in its corridors there are no doctors or visitors. Only some remnants of lonely construction materials staying there.

Refurbishment of the pediatric unit was even of larger scale. It underwent the same stages as the policlinic. But in addition the system of water supply was also replaced here and the heat ‘air-water’ pump was installed. Now hot water will be supplied here on an interrupted basis. That is important for doctors and patients staying here for in-patient treatment. Also, electric wiring has been fully replaced in this building and the system of online-monitoring of energy consumption has been installed.

– Last year refurbishment of the pediatric unit got stuck due to re-examination of the heating system. When an individual heating unit and heat pumps were installed, it appeared that they did not match each other. It was necessary to re-do the design, – Volodymyr Krasiokha says that due to this the cost of refurbishment increased by almost a million hryvnias. However, he states that both the town council, and the contractor agreed to the new terms of work. So this obstacle may well become the last on the way to successful project completion.

Chain reaction


– Certainly, it is important to comply with the deadlines. But to hand over the work by some date just to have it handed over – that is the Soviet approach. High-quality refurbishment needs to be performed. I know that these buildings will finally be perfect, – Volodymyr Krasiokha tells about the plans of refurbishment for each building of the hospital. Repairs are planned in them by the administration of the institution already in compliance with the standards of the current energy efficiency improvement project.

According to the chief physician, the effect of refurbishment of the two buildings of Voznesensk hospital is noticeable even beyond it. Other municipal institutions of the town – kindergarten No. 14 and school No. 8 have been refurbished following this model. The town residents are actively carrying out energy refurbishment of their buildings. Thanks to the project of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ large contractors have come to the town. Students of building and architectural specialties of the local vocational lyceum are brought to Voznesensk hospital for practical familiarization.

* * *

‘We run a protection racket through quality!’, ‘High-quality boilers’, ‘Reliable insulation’ – an advertisement with such and similar phrases is most popular on the billboards in Voznesensk. Different companies suggest that the town residents should think about energy refurbishment of their buildings. Having noticed me recording them by my smartphone, a taxi driver staying close to me offers me a phone number. He says that his acquaintances have got their apartment insulated well. I respond that I know whom to address.

Along with the beginning of energy refurbishment of the two buildings of Voznesensk hospital, since 2015 the Resource Energy Efficiency Centre has been functioning in the town. It was set up on the basis of a public organization ‘The Agency of Economic Development’, which, in particular, provided business accounting services in energy-efficiency project funding. It became partner of PAUCI foundation. The Resource Centre provided consultations to the residents of Voznesensk and Voznesensk raion in energy efficiency matters, helped them find money for the refurbishment of buildings. Finally, over the years of their work in the project its staff members have become specialists in energy audit.

Now the Resource Centre is providing the services of energy certification of buildings, cooperating with local authorities of Voznesensk, Pervomaysk, Yuzhnoukrayinsk, Yuzhne.

– Four years ago that was just an idea – and now this is reality. We provide paid services in energy certification of buildings, support energy refurbishment projects, assist in document registration during their implementation, cooperate with the town authorities of Voznesensk, Pervomaysk, Yuzhnoukrayinsk, Yuzhne. The Resource Centre is fully self-sustained, – tells the head of the organization Serhiy Trandafil.

Most frequently the Resource Centre is addressed for help by the representatives of condominiums of owners. Less frequently – by owners of buildings or entrepreneurs. The organization is not limited to these services only. Serhiy with his colleagues organizes exhibitions of energy efficient equipment and materials for buildings in the town. Also, the Resource Centre holds Sustainable Energy Days in Voznesensk, eco-contests and surveys on energy efficiency matters among the town schoolchildren.

– The demand for energy-efficient solutions among the residents of Voznesensk existed before 2015. But with the hospital refurbishment project implementation, with the state programs, the demand for information about this has considerably increased in the town. People have started seeing noticeable results – and have started getting them in their buildings, – summarized Serhiy Trandafil.

Sustainable Energy Action Plan of Voznesensk presupposes not just reduction of energy costs in hospital buildings by 62%. It also aims to reduce CO2 emission in the town by 88,317.6 tons, or by 33%. This percentage can be even higher. Thanks to the residents of Voznesensk, implementing energy-efficient solutions in their buildings.

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