From an ambitious idea to the EU nomination. How a town in Ivano-Frankivsk region amazed Europe with its energy-efficient achievements
The first steps towards great changes
Simultaneously with its ambitious goals, the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ opened up access to expert support of the European Union and modern expertise in the field of energy efficiency for Dolyna. That was important, due to the fact that in 2008-2010 Ukraine did not yet have any approved modern energy refurbishment recommendations (there existed old ones, developed in the early 2000s or even earlier).
At the same time, the Town Council of Dolyna did not have staff experts capable of carrying out energy audit or developing energy consumption reduction projects on their own. However, during the implementation of the Sustainable Energy Development Plan, the staff of the Municipal Property Administration of Dolyna Town Council acquired those competences from their partners.
Now they are providing professional consultations in energy audit and energy refurbishment of buildings. The whole town uses their services. But in 2011-2012 that was not yet the case.
Volodymyr Smoliy states that specific steps towards energy efficiency after approval of the Action Plan started with local decisions. In 2012 the town received the first grant from the European Union for energy refurbishment of buildings. The Town Council primarily focused on improvement of the buildings which were directly under its control: kindergartens, educational institutions, hospitals, and other municipal institutions.
At first energy audit was made in such buildings and a resource consumption monitoring system was installed. Then their facades and ground storeys were insulated, roofs, water supply systems were replaced, and even alternative sources of energy were installed (solar collectors on the roofs for water heating and heating using the waste produced by wood-processing companies). Now three kindergartens in Dolyna are refurbished following the European requirements. The town has also undertaken quite a share of facility costs.
In spite of the fact that implementation of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ in Dolyna was gaining pace due to projects implemented in public institutions, it was not only those success stories that made the town a candidate for the European Union Sustainable Energy Award. The whole town had to undergo a significant change to achieve this.
An occasion came in 2014, when within the framework of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ the European Union announced a demonstration project tender. The idea was that towns participating in the initiative were to submit large-scale energy refurbishment proposals. The European partners were ready to undertake the major part of their funding (from 60% to 80%). The overall cost of each of the winning projects varied within 500 thousand -1.5 million Euros.
Dolyna got into the list of demonstration project program participants. But its project surprised the representatives of other participants from Ukraine: the town suggested large-scale energy refurbishment of a considerable part of its multi-storeyed residential buildings.
– All post-Soviet towns have a problem in common – excessive energy consumption in panel buildings, – Volodymyr Smoliy says that the town authorities studied the volume of energy consumption in different buildings in Dolyna by fields. It appeared that most of the resources were spent for the residential stock heating purposes. The buildings of 1960-1970s were in for refurbishment.
Engagement of the town community
– It is much easier to insulate a kindergarten or a school since these buildings are in the inventory of the Town Council. While during insulation of buildings there always arise plenty of issues: somebody has an antenna, somebody – a balcony, somebody is ready to pay in equal portions for the refurbishment of the whole building, while the other person thinks that his or her responsibility is limited to his or her apartment only, – tells the Head of the Municipal Property Administration of Dolyna Town Council Serhiy Harhat. He also used to be communications manager of the demonstration project of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ in Dolyna.
In Serhiy Harhat’s words, the town authorities started cooperating with the residents of multi-apartment buildings not just because these facilities accounted for the largest energy costs. That was also a way to implement really large-scale transformations in the town, to change the basis for the attitude of efficient consumption of resources in their buildings. Therefore the project focused not just on the buildings where condominiums of owners had already been established, but also on the ones serviced by management companies.
At the same time, financial component was of importance. No union of residents of multi-apartment buildings in Dolyna was capable of paying for complete energy refurbishment of its houses on its own. According to initial conditions, the European Union was ready to use 773 thousand out of 1.03 MEUR to be spent on the project implementation. Other costs had to be covered by the residents and the Town Council.
– We wanted to show that people also can improve their places of residence. That they also need to do something. That is why we expected that a certain percentage of insulation costs will be paid by them, – Volodymyr Smoliy says that later the correlation between the shares changed for 60% (EU funding, with no change of volume), 20% and 20% (the shares of the Town Council and residents). Finally, the project got some new unexpected costs (for example, it was necessary to insulate ground storeys in buildings). These costs were paid out of the town budget.
In Serhiy Harhat’s words, at first the residents of Dolyna were cautious about the town authorities’ initiative. According to the survey results, in 2015 some 45% of the town residents did not know how much money they could allocate for energy refurbishment of their buildings, and 25% were ready to give 3 thousand hryvnias for that. But the market price of insulation for one apartment was 8-9 times higher.
Caution of the residents was manifested in the intensity of their participation in the initiative at the beginning. In 2015 Dolyna Town Council announced the first tender for multi-apartment buildings for insulation. That year only 16 applications were submitted, and 13 of them were allowed access to refurbishment. A year later the number of participating buildings increased to 24. 17 of them got money for warm facade.
Tenders, approval of all documents, money raising by residents, material procurement, façade and ground floor insulation lasted from 2015 to 2018. 30 buildings underwent energy refurbishment over that period. Most of them have 60 apartments each.
In general, there are over 300 multi-apartment buildings in Dolyna. But only 108 of them are condominiums of owners or are managed by management companies. And 29% of them are insulated. Before 2014 there was only one such building in Dolyna.
– When demonstration projects of the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ were about to finish, Dolyna Town Council suggested a new program: ‘50 by 50’. Under this program, we are ready to provide funding for a half or even 60% of the costs of energy refurbishment of multi-apartment buildings. If there is a clear proposal and readiness to provide the other half, – says Serhiy Harat. The list of candidates for participation in the program already includes 10 buildings.
The buildings in the central part of Dolyna make us think that this town is not located in Western Ukraine. Here we have absolutely few buildings constructed in the Austrian times or the times of the Second Rzeczpospolita. Though the town was founded over a thousand year ago, it was built and took its modern appearances already in the 1960-1980s. Some important oil recovery companies are located here.
Respectively, the centre of Dolyna is full of the Soviet-period buildings. Most of them are panel residential buildings. By 2014 their facades looked dull.
– You may tell, what a nice colour has been chosen! – Halyna Kuznietsova is pointing at the pink walls of the buildings of the condominium of owners in which she is the head. – Those who did not give any money for its insulation still keep saying that bad colours were chosen.
According to Halyna Kuznietsova, complaints about the façade colour now still remain the only arguments against the insulation of the buildings voiced by the residents who are in disagreement. Since the concerns that the money spent on refurbishment would not bring any result were not confirmed. Gas consumption in each apartment (residents of multi-apartment buildings in Dolyna have individual heating) has gone done on average by 30%.
– I have long dreamt of insulation and been calculating prospective benefits. I even went to my neighbours with such a proposal. They did not object, but said: ‘We will not manage this on our own’, – says Halyna Kuznietsova. The chance appeared with the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ demonstration project program.
In Halyna Kuznietsova’s building negotiations with all residents and money raising was a very long and tedious project. The head of the condominium of owners says that at some point of time she was in despair: autumn was coming, insulation works had not started yet, and they lacked several tens of thousand hryvnias to the necessary sum (20% of the refurbishment costs were to be paid by the residents).
Then Halyna Kuznietsova came to know about the ‘warm credit’ program. It allowed the condominium of owners to take money for refurbishment at low interest rate, while the state guaranteed repayment of a part of the loan. Under it Halyna Kuznietsova’s condominium of owners got 172 thousand UAH, of which the state budget reimbursed 72 thousand. The credit was repaid, energy refurbishment of the building was carried out within the ‘Covenant of Mayors’, and the money paid back was used to repair staircases.
– Not all apartments gave money for insulation. In the last entrance wall only 7 out of 20 did. That is why the money for the repairs was distributed by us in proportion to the money raised. For example, I paid the most out of all the residents – 5,200 UAH. But I feel real benefits, – summarizes Halyna Kuznietsova.
The head of the condominium of owners also boasts of the new roof in her building. It was performed out of the money saved by the union before. Halyna Kuznietsova says that the building is now close to complete refurbishment.
The head of another condominium of owners in Dolyna – ‘Frantsuzkyi Dim’ – Viktor Semkulych also says that the residents of his buildings have already felt the advantages of refurbishment. They submitted an application to the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ demonstration projects tender in 2016. The building was insulated very quickly – from the spring to the autumn of 2017.
– Since we all have individual heating, it is difficult to talk about some common figures. Personally with me gas consumption has reduced by 20%. I hear most words of gratitude for this project from the residents of the lower floors – it is finally warm in their apartments, – Viktor Semkulych says that each apartment has spent no more than 3,600 UAH on insulation.
The head of the condominium of owners ‘Frantsuzkyi Dim’ is conscious of the fact that his building is far from being perfect in terms of energy efficiency: at least the roof should be replaced. But according to Viktor Semkulych, the residents of his condominium of owners have trusted in the efficiency of initiatives involving co-funding thanks to the ‘Covenant of Mayors’ Demonstration Projects. Now they are going to make an application for the ’50 by 50’ tender initiated by Dolyna Town Council.