Early lessons

Nizhyn, Ukraine, project equips kindergarten with energy-efficient technology and sparks momentum for similar initiatives elsewhere in the city

January 24, 2018 | By Nathan Johnson

This is the third in a series of articles on municipalities are that are implementing local action plans with assistance from REC-provided grants through the “Local Initiatives for a Sustainable Ukraine” (LINK) project. In 2016, the REC invited partner municipalities to submit project proposals that address priority issues identified in their “Local Action Plan towards Energy Security and Sustainability” or “Local Environmental and Energy Action Plan”, developed and endorsed by the relevant local authority.

Nizhyn (pop. 70,000) is a Ukrainian city situated along the Oster River and 150 kilometres north-east of Kyiv. In addition to possessing a rich architectural heritage of ancient buildings, Nizhyn boasts a large student population (20 percent) and a wide range of industries—from engineering, food and medicine, to construction, timber and dry-goods production.

Of Nizhyn’s many educational facilities and buildings, many are not equipped to deliver energy in efficient and cost-effective ways, resulting in negative health effects and added financial burdens. The situation is compounded through annual cost increases of energy inputs, which limits local budget capacity to addresses needs related to infrastructure and social spending. This ultimately leads to a slowdown of local community development.

To address this urgent problem, the city has introduced a systemic approach towards addressing this urgent problem through a demonstration project titled “Implementation of Energy-Saving Measures in Kindergarten No. 25”, which was carried out in 2017. The problems at Kindergarten No. 25 are typical of many of Nizhyn’s buildings in the educational sector: outdated heating systems, inadequate hot-water supply, and rising costs due to inefficiency. The project involves several measures that, once implemented, can be replicated elsewhere in the city.

“The project is, indeed, very important, both for the kindergarten and the city in general,” exclaims Nizhyn Mayor Anatolii Linnyk. “The implementation of all planned measures will create more comfortable conditions for the kids and the kindergarten staff, and at the same time the project will allow us to save money on utilities. Along with other energy-saving measures, this kindergarten will be the first state-run institution in Nizhyn where in individual heating sub-station will be installed. And in addition, the second phase of the project will be to insulate the building.”

Mayor Linnyk also appreciates the ‘big picture’ aspect of the project: “The project also serves well for popularisation purposes. I am certain that it will push forward implementation of similar measures in other institutions of our town, foster energy-conscious behaviour and efficient use of resources among the citizens.”

Key objectives and anticipated outcomes

In addition to using renewable technologies, upgrading systems and making general repairs, the “Energy Saving Measures” project includes awareness-raising activities that are linked to long-term considerations for the city of Nizhyn.

Activities carried out at Kindergarten No. 25 include modernising the school’s heating system by replacing pipes and valves, and by installing thermostats on the boilers along with a temperature balancing system. Solar panels will be installed for the school’s hot-water supply. Recuperative heat exchangers will be installed in locations where children are present most often, and the school’s lighting system will also be upgraded, with energy-saving bulbs replacing incandescent bulbs.

If carried out successfully, the project will deliver multiple benefits, including: improved comfort levels for the kindergarten’s children, teachers, and administrative staff; reduction by an estimated 20 percent of respiratory disease among children; a 30-percent reduction in heat-providing energy consumption (58 Gcal per year), and a 35-percent reduction in electricity consumption (10,355 kWh) resulting from the installation of solar water heaters.

The city budget will enjoy cost savings of an estimated EUR 3,280 (UAH 115,000) per year in 2016 prices — a figure that will be higher when external building insulation is added in 2018. The budget savings for just a single building are indicative of just how much could be trimmed form city budget expenditures for heating and electricity and health costs if such improvements are carried out in multiple buildings.

The environmental benefits are also clear, with projected cuts in CO2 emissions of 21.9 tonnes per year. The project’s educational and awareness-raising activities will target both children and adults on the need for rational use of energy and implementing energy-efficient technologies, both in the public sector and in everyday life.

“At present, we have finished modernisation of the heating system and replaced the windows, and the remaining work is already underway,” explains Vira Topikha, Chief Specialist from the Department of Investments and Infrastructure, Nizhyn City Council. “Even at this stage we can already observe the effect of energy-saving measures. The temperature of the rooms on the first floor is 22 °C. On the second floor, it’s now 24 °C, where the winter temperature was not higher than 17 °C, and children used to get ill quite frequently. Furthermore, the heating sub-station makes it possible to control the heat supply, which is good from an economic perspective.”

Project activity timeline

The project was carried out in two phases over a six-month period in 2017. The first month involved getting the technical parameters and obtaining production permits and other project-related documents. Preparations for the renovation project were developed over the course of the first two months.

During the third month, it was necessary to secure and finalise the involvement of state investment expertise, while also preparing the procurement documents. The procurement of works, goods and services took place during month four, marking the beginning of phase two. At the same time, a tender was conducted for the purchase and supply of equipment, materials and labour.

Mechanical and installation works were carried out in months four and five, simultaneously with the technical supervision of the construction works. Activities carried out in the project’s final month were: acceptance of the facility and the preparation of necessary documentation; the collection of data and preparation of promotional materials; and implementation of the public outreach programme. 

“Apart from the measures mentioned above, an educational component was implemented in the framework of the project,” added Councilmember Topikha. “With the help of international experts, we held several seminars for representatives of all state institutions in Nizhyn. More than 100 people took part. The seminars aimed to equip everyone in charge of energy-saving measures with the knowledge to manage their buildings with maximum energy efficiency.”

The total project budget is EUR 60,000, of which the REC has provided EUR 30,000 in grant funding through the Government of Norway.

TAGS: Ukraine | Education | Local initiatives | Energy efficiency