New projects for energy-efficient renovation of old buildings may appear in St.Petersburg and Leningrad region

On 11 April, a round table "The practice of improving energy efficiency in residential buildings" took place in Kolpino, a St.Petersburg suburb. Its participants discussed options for renovation of old buildings and construction of new ones in the context of energy efficient solutions. Such reconstruction can reduce heat losses by 3 to 7 times. This supports the slogan of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union campaign: "Energy efficiency is the biggest, cheapest and most clean source of energy in Russia."

Kolpino town was chosen not by chance. In 2013, energy audit is planned of two typical buildings - residential building of the 137 series in Kolpino and a house built in 1968 in Kirovsk, Leningrad Region - with the support of experts from Germany.

To calculate heat losses, is necessary to perform a large number of measurements. Since most Russian old buildings have no meters, assessments for losses are often rough. In addition, it is difficult in such estimates to take into account the amount of heat generated by additional electric heaters in apartments.

German experts gave an example of a project implemented in Odessa. Initially, heat losses were 230 kWh. After insulating attic and basement, this value decreased down to 175 kWh. Potentially, this house can be brought down to the level of 60 kWh, but the old design of the balconies complicates the task. With installation of a special ventilation system with heat recovery, it is possible to reduce the heat losses down to 30 kWh.

N. V. Pitirimov from the "City homeowners association" presented at the round table the results of energy efficiency projects, the actual numbers of energy and economic benefits. The main principle for selecting energy efficiency projects is their payback in no more than 5 years. It is not easy to find many such projects, but they are present, and energy savings in some cases reach 50%. Some measures to save energy can surprise even experienced people - for example, energy-efficient elevators. These elevators are planned to be installed in houses that already implemented the basic steps of reconstruction. The main specific feature of such elevators is units of regeneration. That is, the released braking energy is converted into electric current and this current is used for movement. This allows saving up to 20% of energy.

According to N. V. Pitirimov, 65% of the energy goes to heat, and 23% - on the power consumption. Over 45% of the potential energy savings are basically measures that may be applied in apartments. Given that the Petersburg has 22,000 apartment buildings, the total potential energy savings through simple measures that can be carried out by tenants themselves is huge.

The discussion at the roundtable showed that such projects have economic and technical challenges, particularly in attracting investment, but the potential of these projects is very high. However, it was also noted that insulation of attics, basements and facades are most expensive works, but it is not possible to achieve the required energy efficiency of the building without them.

A spokesperson from Maiden firm presented a number of projects undertaken by the company. The peculiarity of these projects (as compared to other projects of modernization of buildings discussed at the round table) is in the use of solar collectors. The innovation is introduction of a separate heating system in every apartment. The essence of this project is that the central source of heat remains, but each apartment has individual station for preparation of hot water. This system has the advantage, as the station monitors and controls the room temperature. Although, the biggest drawback is that this project cannot be implemented in older houses, as it is necessary to rebuild the entire house, replacing the existing heating system.

The discussion in Kolpino confirms that energy efficiency is the largest, cheapest and most clean source of energy in our country. The total energy that can be released through energy efficiency measures in residential buildings is comparable with that of a new power station and requires far less implementation costs and eliminates the need to use fossil fuels, which would be needed for operation of the power plant.

The Russian Social Ecological Union and the "Friends of the Baltic" NGO launch in 2013 the information campaign "Energy efficiency is the largest, cheapest and most clean source of energy in Russia." This campaign will show the possibilities of energy efficiency in every region of our country as an alternative to new stations (see