Serbian Schools and Hospitals Are Warmer and More Energy Efficient
Vesna Kostic, Sr Communications Officer in the Serbia Office, offers this story.
Serbian schools and hospitals waste a lot of energy and pay dearly for this negligence. In spite of high energy bills, people inside these buildings are mostly cold. This is now changing throughout the country thanks to energy efficiency measures.
Five years ago students of "Branko Radičević" elementary school in Uljma, a village in north-eastern Serbia, used to run from class to class because the unheated hallways were freezing cold. Today, those same halls are warm, cozy places buzzing with pupils' chatter and ripples of laughter. Coats and boots are no longer needed in class. And yet the school's energy bill is lower per square meter.
"In 2005 we consumed over 10,000 cubic meters of gas during the heating season," says Petar Jokić, the headmaster. "In 2006 we used around 7,000 cubic meters. The saving was a result of insulated windows. With the money saved we finished our own heating system. Today we heat 35 percent more space but the bill is the same."
This school is one of 28 public buildings retrofitted through the Serbia Energy Efficiency Project, supported by the World Bank. With small building interventions, such as installation of new windows, thermostatic valves, equipment for automatic temperature controls and efficient lighting huge savings were achieved. In 18 schools and 10 hospitals the consumption of energy on average was reduced by 40 percent.
The achievements didn't go unnoticed in the local communities. When Dara Ninković, a teacher at "Mika Antić" Elementary School in Čonoplja, a village in northern Serbia, learned her school saved 350,000 dinars within one season due to proper insulation of windows, she decided to take action in her own home.
"It was expensive for my family—we had to get a loan, but we changed the windows in one part of our house." Ninković says. "The investment already paid back since we reduced the amount of the wood we burn each year from 11 to 8 cubic meters. As soon as I can afford it, I'll change all the windows."
The municipalities didn't stay indifferent either. Snežana Ružić learned about the benefits of the Energy Efficiency Project as the member of the education board in the municipality of Vršac, a town not far away from Uljma. "We immediately formed a team for energy efficiency to take stock how we can save energy in local public buildings. Three secondary and one elementary school are identified so far," explains Snežana Ružić. "From citizens' contributions we collected 60 million dinars to finance this program."
Nevertheless, it was not all about saving money. The impact of the project on the environment was immense, as in many public buildings old fashioned boiler rooms were replaced with modern ones. The benefits are particularly visible around the Clinical Center of Serbia, situated in the Belgrade's barrow of Vračar. Voja Kosanović, technical manager of the Clinical Center, explains that 20 boiler rooms fired by coal and mazut were replaced with one fired by gas. "Over 150 kilos of coal ash and other particles fell on a square meter of the ground around the center before the intervention though the project. It is practically zero today," says Kosanović. "People of Vračar can now breathe with full lungs."
A new boiler room enabled the Clinical Center not only to heat its own 230,000 square meters but also additional 180,000 of three faculties, four other hospitals, a hotel and other buildings nearby. In addition, the Clinical Center boiler room produces hot water and steam, used in the kitchen, laundry, bathrooms and for sterilization. On top of all this, one of the engines produces electricity – the first one in Serbia coming from gas. Such results brought the Green Award of the World Bank for the project in 2007.
There is no official reward for the users' satisfaction but if there were one the Energy Efficiency Project would get it. "According to all of the 12 surveys on social impact there is almost 100 percent satisfaction with the improvements of the indoor comfort," says Gordana Stojanović, monitoring and evaluation expert in the Serbian Agency for Energy Efficiency. Svetlana Radojković, the headmistress of Agricultural Secondary School in Vršac, confirms this. For 25 years she wasn't taking off her coat and boots while in the school. "After our school was retrofitted and new windows were installed I didn't need either a coat or boots. Besides, our energy bill is 20 percent lower than it used to be," she says.
Even the European Union recognized the project's results: Serbian Energy Efficiency Agency was selected as the partner for the Sustainable Energy Europe Campaign based on the achievements of the Energy Efficiency Project, supported by the World Bank.
Given the positive results and high demand for further support, the Government of Serbia requested additional financing to scale up the program. The ongoing second phase of the Energy Efficiency Project will include 64 public buildings to be retrofitted, including the NIS clinical center, which houses about 1,500 beds.
Moving forward the program has demonstrated that high energy savings can be achieved in the public sector buildings, while at the same time increasing comfort and reducing pollutants. Much more needs to be done across the economy, but this is a very good start.