Developments in new energy-efficient houses in Ukraine

There has not been a lot of good news coming out of Ukraine. Mark Rachkevych writes on the Kyiv Post website about important new developments in energy-efficient housing.


One developer’s solution to energy efficient houses

Some 20 kilometers northwest of Kyiv stands a 129-square meter, single-family country home that is as green as it is smart.

Built in June using the latest available energy efficient building materials, it uses 65 percent less energy than a similar home built to existing standards. Thanks to such features as solar panels, insulation, natural lighting, and energy recovery ventilation, the two-story house needs just 8,000 kilowatts of energy a year instead of 23,000 kilowatts that related homes consume. Its frame is made of prefabricated wood filled with insulation and has walls as thick as 350-400 millimeters.

Although the residence is used for show, it is ready for a family of three to move in. Ivan Perehinets, program manager of Dostupne Zhytlo, a non-profit housing cooperative that develops the property, wants to competitively choose a family to live there for two years so that he could monitor energy consumption and savings.

“They would receive Hr 2,000 month to use the energy efficiency data, provide us with monthly energy consumption rates and offer proposals on how to improve the system,” Perehinets told the Kyiv Post.

The units sell for about $129,000 or at $1,000 per square meter, and can be built on site anywhere in Ukraine. It comes with an electric oven, refrigerator, a bathtub, two toilets, vacuum cleaner, electrical boiler, and light fixtures.

The buyer just needs to own a land plot and join the housing cooperative by paying a Hr 1,000 membership fee, according to Perehinets. Once that happens, the buyer gives the non-profit group a mandate to design, build and register the house in their name.

The home is branded as Optima House by a group five international companies involved in building materials, as well as Dostupne Zhytlo. They each have equal parity rights to the trademark, according to Tatyana Turanova, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian unit of Saint-Gobain, a French maker and distributer of building materials.

According to the group’s brochure, some 45 percent of energy the house consumes is powered by renewable energy sources. It lets in 10 times more natural sunlight than the average home, accounting for 3-5 percent of interior lighting. It relies on solar energy to heat water, power appliances, and uses an air-to-air pump to cool and heat the air. Primary energy accounts for less than 150 kilowatts per hour a year per square meter, and an electric boiler heats water when not enough solar energy is available.

“In old homes, energy consumption typically reaches 240 kilowatts per hour, in new ones – 150 kilowatts an hour per square meter a year,” said Sergey Nazrov, CEO of Saint-Gobain Construction Products Ukraine, in a news release. “In Optima House we aim to achieve energy consumption up to 40 kilowatts an hour per square meter.”

More air is released in pipes so that 25 percent less water is used, or on average, the equivalent 45-50 liters a day in savings.

Thanks to the modern climate-control system, the temperature in winter is never less than 21 C and not more than 24 C in summer. Due to less energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions reach about 1 ton a year, or three times less than a similar house.

The real-time house monitoring system provided by Schneider Electric also tracks the presence of indoor carbon dioxide concentration. The ventilation system never allows the home have over 900 parts per million –more than 1,000 is hazardous to one’s health.

“By ‘smart’ we mean that all data such as, electricity consumption…carbon dioxide, humidity, temperature and wind speed, are monitored in real time,” said Mariya Dudnyk, spokeswoman for Schneider Electric.

Home buyers are given a computer tablet with which to monitor the home, adjust settings, and take with them to remotely control the residence.

“For example, when the house is empty, sensors detect storms or excessive sunlight and automatically activate awnings and blinds in the relevant areas as a protective measure,” Dudnyk said.

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