Europe-inspired ideas to help Zhytomyr save energy and money

IMG_0131More than 400 children in Zhytomyr will study in a warm kindergarten, and city dwellers will feel safer walking on well-lit streets thanks to initiatives funded by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) and presented on June 25 during the European Sustainable Energy Week, an EU-wide initiative in which more than hundred European cities participate. Being held in Ukraine for the third time, the annual eco-awareness event opened in Zhytomyr on June 24.

The project, run by Zhytomyr authorities with NEFCO support and inspired by EU energy saving ideas, saw the city’s 1,700 old-fashioned incandescent lamps replaced with LED light bulbs. Furthermore, the project made large-scale renovations to Kindergarten No 21, the municipality’s biggest day-care centre, aimed at reduction of energy consumption and the costs of heating. Both initiatives were made possible thanks to municipal funds and a loan from the NEFCO Facility for Energy Saving Credits.

The kindergarten, “is the right place to show how our children can live in the future and how not to waste energy,” said Walter Tretton, head of the Energy, Transport and Environment section of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, during his visit to this childcare centre.

Before the renovation, energy saving experts who visited the kindergarten, “were shocked at how much energy has been lost,” says the kindergarten’s director, Kateryna Tomashevych. Constructed 32 years ago following a construction plan designed for southern regions, the kindergarten was vulnerable to the cold winters, she says.

The heat-retaining renovations funded by NEFCO started from the attic; improved the façade and foundation, replaced windows with energy efficient ones, upgraded the heat exchange and temperature measuring units and established an automatic heat supply regulation system.

Walter Tretton (EU Delegation, on the right), Magnus Rystedt (NEFCO, centre), Anders Lund (E5P, left) on EUSEW opening event in Zhytomyr
Walter Tretton (EU Delegation, on the right), Magnus Rystedt (NEFCO, centre), Anders Lund (E5P, left) on EUSEW opening event in Zhytomyr

“All of us have felt the changes,” says Oksana Khrystiuk, one of the heads of the kindergarten’s parents’ committee.  “It was warm and cosy this winter in the kindergarten, and I had no fear that my child would get sick,” she says. Before the renovations, the temperature inside the building rarely exceeded 18 °С ; this winter, it never fell below 21 °С, according to Tomashevych.

The city of Zhytomyr will save about UAH 225,000 (almost €20,000) annually thanks to the kindergarten project. Huge savings were also made possible as a result of major street lighting upgrades: 1,700 incandescent lamps were replaced with LED light bulbs, resulting in a savings of about UAH 585,000 (€ 53,000) per year.

The new LED light bulbs “consume only 20 watts, although its lighting effect is 2.5 times higher than that of a 100-watt incandescent lamp,” says Yuriy Yanushevych, director of Misksvitlo, a municipal lighting enterprise. Incandescent lamps often burnt out and need to be replaced six months or sometimes even a week after they are fixed, he says. LED light bulbs, in contrast, can function for 12 years, he says, adding that this will save city money on repairs and maintenance.

“Often I come back home when it is dark outside,” says Kateryna, a Zhytomyr resident. “Before, only one or two lamps lit the whole street; today, all of them function, and people can safely walk around,” she adds.

Magnus Rystedt, managing director of NEFCO, says that the kindergarten renovations and street lighting upgrades will help the municipality reduce electricity and heat consumption. “Converted into money, this means that the municipality will save about UAH 721,000 per year (€65,000),” he adds.

Zhytomyr authorities, together with European donors, intend to take these initiatives even further. They are keen to implement a bigger project aimed at enhancing energy efficiency in 19 public buildings (kindergartens, schools, medical institutions). Rystedt confirms that this project will soon be recommended for approval to the Eastern Europe Energy Efficiency and Environment Partnership (E5P) fund.

Background

European Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) is a European Union initiative designed to spread best practices, inspire new ideas and build alliances to move toward the efficient use of clean energy. The initiative’s goal is to form a bigger picture out of multiple individual efforts and to motivate change through a varied programme of events.

Ukraine participated in EUSEW for the first time in 2011. This year the Ukrainian part of the EU-wide initiative opened in Zhytomyr on June 24.

Sergiy Rozdum, Zhytomyr