Residents of one multistory apartment building in Lviv have taken out a public loan for energy saving initiatives. With the money, they have installed a heat metre, replaced old windows, and insulated the building.
The improvements are documented in a video produced with the assistance of the European Union. The initiative may not be extreme, but for Ukraine, it is a kind of revolution.
“We save up to 40% of the building’s heat. The building has become warmer, more comfortable, and the value of the apartments has risen,” notes Oleksandra Slobodian, the chairperson of the board of the building’s owners’ association, Berehynya. “It was not easy. People were hesitant at first, but we are pleased with the results.”
These days, energy efficiency and energy saving is a top priority for the Ukrainian government and citizens for many reasons, including the need to strengthen Ukraine’s energy independence and lower consumption of Russian gas, and the need for financial savings for Ukrainian families in the face of rising energy prices.
Energy efficiency is also among the top priorities of Ukraine-EU relations. EU cooperation and assistance in the energy sphere is occurring at different levels: from support for key reforms and the creation of an Energy Efficiency Fund, to the encouragement of ordinary people to embrace energy efficiency measures.
Over the past six months, an informational EU-funded campaign called “Energy of Your Home,” has rolled out in five Ukrainian cities: Kiev, Odesa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia. It is aimed primarily at owners’ associations of multi-story apartment buildings, which is an important target audience when it comes to energy efficiency.
Almost half of Ukraine’s population lives in high-rise buildings. According to official statistics, there are 255,000 buildings in the country. At the same time, the residential sector accounts for 25% of total electricity consumption and 45% of heat consumption in the country.
“From 70 to 90% of the housing stock consists of residential buildings with huge energy costs. They were built at a time when energy resources were much cheaper, so nobody took energy efficiency into account,” says Andriy Kyrchiv from the Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine association. “Now it has become a huge problem. These buildings are also becoming dilapidated and require repair.”
Kyrchiv emphasises that only complex thermo-modernisation of high-rise buildings makes sense. On their own, simply insulating, replacing old windows, or installing a new heating system will have no significant effect.
Of course, complex thermo-modernisation costs money.
“Either the residents of high-rise buildings find the funds on their own and do it, or they organise an owners’ association. As a legal entity, such an association can take out loans and take advantage of opportunities through the Energy Efficiency Fund, “says Kyrchiv.
On September 27, Kyrchiv participated in public events in Zhytomyr, organised within the framework of the “Energy of Your Home” campaign. The aim of the events was to increase awareness of the importance of thermo-modernisation of high-rise buildings among residents. The campaign has organised the distribution of a large quantity of information materials, including leaflets, posters, banners, and video clips, to encourage people to implement thermo-modernisation.
The FGL Energy consulting company is implementing the information campaign.
“The information on energy efficiency is well-perceived by representatives of apartment owners’ associations and they have been engaged in related activities,” says FGL director Tetyana Derevyankina. “People understand that the buildings they live in belong to them and it is not the government’s responsibility to come and repair the lobby or roof, or install heating equipment with thermostat control. This is what we want to convey through the information campaign: your building is your common property. “
There have already been many successful examples of thermo-modernisation of multi-story apartment buildings in Ukraine. The Energy Efficiency Fund, through which the EU has allocated €100 million, is expected to start its work next year and will play a key role in this process.
For their part, residents of high-rise buildings should be prepared to take advantage of the Fund. That requires two things: awareness of the need for thermo-modernisation, and the creation of owners’ associations. The European Union is also focusing its efforts on spreading this information.