Vira Nedzvedska

In partnership with the government and community: the experience of the Eastern Europe Foundation

Vira Nedzvedska, Coordinator of Energy Efficiency and Ecology Programs of the Eastern Europe Foundation. Vira has got several long-term and multimillion-dollar energy efficiency projects at the expense of international technical assistance implemented under her belt.

Energy transition

Ukraine's energy transition is inseparably linked to its energy independence. And this issue is strategic for the country - it lies in the plane of national security. We all had a chance to see this in 2014. Therefore, energy efficiency must remain a priority, regardless of the temporary difficulties facing the country: whether it is the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis etc.

By the way, the attention of international grant makers to energy efficiency has not weakened in any way since the beginning of the war, but on the contrary, it has increased, thus affirming my opinion.

The Eastern Europe Foundation has been operating since 2008. During this time, more than $ 30 million has been invested in the socio-economic development of Ukraine. These comprise projects and programs of various durations and scales: the introduction of e-government and e-democracy tools, the development of parliamentarism, the socio-economic development of territories, the support of civil society organizations, the reintegration of veterans, the development of social entrepreneurship and much more. But environmental and energy efficiency projects have always held a prominent place among them. During our activity we have implemented more than a dozen such projects.

Responsibility for energy transition

The policy is formed by the state, but business, activists, and the public contribute (or should contribute) to this energy transition. Only through such synergy can the most effective result be achieved.

By introducing energy-efficient technologies, businesses are becoming competitive in both the domestic and global markets. Every Ukrainian becomes more conscious, more thrifty and wealthy. Local government is an effective manager of communal property. All together - stronger, first of all - economically.

What is the role of civil society in this? Organizations such as the Eastern Europe Foundation are, in a good sense, «stimulus» to government and society. At the expense of grant makers, we bring to Ukraine expertise, best practices and create specific success stories: lighted streets, warm gardens, installed solar panels, etc. We demonstrate to both the government and the citizens the benefits that can be gained from the implementation of energy efficient projects. Therefore, there is a demand from the people for the implementation of such practices, and from the authorities - there are opportunities for their realization. A continuous win-win, as they would say in business.


In fact, our first project is «Energy Efficiency: Local Partnership Initiatives». It was implemented from 2006 to 2010. At that time, the Foundation installed energy-efficient equipment in kindergartens, hospitals, schools and museums. Therefore, 21 initiatives were supported in 11 regions. The Foundation and our parent company, the Eurasia Foundation, have invested about UAH 2.5 million in this project.
In 2011, two more projects were launched: «Energy Efficient Technologies at the Service of People» and «Clean energy for Dnipropetrovsk region» (2011–2014). As part of the first, we researched the possibilities of using solar energy and other renewable sources in the Crimea and identified 140 social facilities where the use of these technologies would be most effective. Also, thanks to the installed solar panels, four kindergartens in Crimea were provided with hot water supply.

As a result of the second project a total of 25 demonstration initiatives based on social infrastructure: in kindergartens, schools, libraries, hospitals, swimming pools were implemented. Somewhere LED street lighting was installed, somewhere - the walls were insulated, the roofs reconstructed, the windows and doors replaced. Biomass heating and hot water were provided at some facilities.

In 2012, the Foundation implemented the project «Stimulation of Renewable and Alternative Energy in Sevastopol and Inkerman». Then we conducted energy audits of 74 kindergartens, on the basis of which we prepared feasibility studies for the use of solar systems for hot water supply. And on the roof of the educational plant №5 solar panels were installed.
In 2020, the Eastern Europe Foundation completed work on insulation of kindergarten №5 in Kamianka-Buzka
In 2013–2017, we implemented the «Smart Energy Consumption for the Welfare of Lviv Region Communities» project. Then we held a competition in which two cities were selected - Zhovkva and Kamianka-Buzka, which received 750 thousand UAH for the implementation of demonstration projects. As a result, in Kamianka-Buzka in the Orphanage and in the kindergarten «Barvinok» in Zhovkva, thermal modernization was carried out and other energy efficient measures were implemented.

Furthermore, the cities conducted energy audits of all social infrastructure facilities and based on them developed plans for thermal modernization of 25 facilities in Zhovkva and 21 - in Kamianka-Buzka.

We also held a competition among industries, as a result of which the Department of Health of the Lviv Regional State Administration received UAH 1 million for energy efficiency projects. 9 medical institutions of the Lviv region passed energy audits. The Lviv Regional Blood Service Center, which modernized the boiler house, acted as a demonstration project. Funds for this were partially attracted from the regional budget.

In 2015, the project «Municipal Partnerships for Improving Energy Efficiency in Sambor and Zhovkva» was launched, which lasted until 2017. With the funds provided by the European Union, we laid 800 meters of heating network in Zhovkva, re-equipped the boiler house for renewable energy consumption, started the pumps of the heating system, installed 4 individual heat points for 3 communal facilities and one multi-storey building.

In Sambor, street lighting was comprehensively modernized. 28% of the general network and 45% of lighting fixtures have been replaced, and a system for monitoring and managing technological objects of urban lighting has been introduced. The city's calling card is a wonderful architecture, so in the center of the historic buildings, we have installed decorative lighting.

Our partnership with the Lviv region is old-established and fruitful. In most projects, Lviv regional and city authorities are co-implementers, allocating budget funds for energy efficiency measures.

Another project from the Lviv region is «Improving the Microclimate and Energy Efficiency Indicators at the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital in Lviv for 65,000 Children and a Kindergarten for 190 children in the City of Kamianka-Buzka». We are implementing it together with the German non-governmental organization Kinderhilfswerk ChildFund Deutschland with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). We work with 2 objects of social infrastructure: a hospital in Lviv and a kindergarten in the region. The goal is to provide comfortable and healthy conditions for children and their parents, as well as for doctors working in the hospital.

Okhmatdyt Hospital in Lviv now has comfortable conditions for patients and staff

We started working on the project in 2018, and we are finishing it this year, although the basis was laid in previous projects of the Foundation. In particular, in 2017, when an energy audit of 9 health care facilities was conducted in the Lviv region. Okhmatdyt Hospital was one of them. Therefore, the existence of such an energy audit was one of the key reasons why another grant maker supported the financing of energy modernization.

It started, as always, with the development of design and estimated documentation for both projects. Currently, all work on the so-called hard-part is done. The attic was insulated in the hospital, the construction and installation of an individual heating station was completed, and the windows were replaced together with the city authorities. The kindergarten underwent thermal renovation and overhaul of the facade. A modular boiler house was installed on the territory, the capacity of which allows to provide heating not only of this kindergarten, but also of the one located nearby. A heating mail was laid. The administration of the institution and Kamianka-Buzka City Council joined in. Already at the expense of the community, the food unit was repaired, the ventilation system was restored, the roof was covered, and gutters were set up.

The modular boiler house, installed on the territory of the kindergarten in Kamianka-Buzka, heats two preschool institutions

Of course, one cannot fail to mention the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in the case of the hospital and the kindergarten, it did not work the same way: somewhere it turned into a disadvantage, and somewhere - into an advantage.

The hospital had to suspend work for several months. And in kindergarten - on the contrary. Due to the fact that there was a complete lockdown and there were no children in the kindergarten, we did all the work much faster.

For some reason, speaking of difficulties, a funny case with a boiler room in a kindergarten springs to my mind. The equipment was installed, inspected and launched. After a while, it stopped working. We have all managed to turn gray, wondering what could be the matter. It turned out that a leaf from a tree choked up a filter. Cool foreign equipment, and that's such a mess. This, of course, is not a difficulty, but just a funny story.

Changes for the community

Among the obvious things - saving budget funds for the maintenance of social infrastructure, comfort for visitors of the hospital and kindergarten, educators and doctors. Positive rating of local government, if it had an active position in the project.

Of those that are talked about less, but which are also extremely important: the number of successfully implemented projects boosts the chances of the community to attract additional grant makers' assistance. After all, in this way a positive portfolio of international technical assistance is formed. Grant makers always pay attention to this and are more likely to support projects where there are already success stories.

Exemplary project with the building of the Ministry of Regional Development

Under the Association Agreement with the European Union, Ukraine has committed itself to harmonizing its legislation with that of the EU, in particular in the energy efficiency sector. Directive 2012/27 / EU «On Energy Efficiency» also obliges Ukraine to renovate 1% of the total area of heated / cooled buildings of central authorities per year in order to bring them to the minimum energy efficiency requirements.

For this purpose, a demonstration renovation of the building of the Ministry of Regional Development was initiated. Using this example, we wanted to demonstrate how energy efficiency projects should be implemented in establishments of Central Government Bodies and what effect can be achieved.

First, in 2017, as part of the GIZ project «Energy Efficient Reforms in Ukraine», Austrian consultants conducted an energy audit of the ministry building, located in the historic center of Kiev on 9 Velyka Zhytomyrska street.

Based on the energy audit, a plan of complex thermal modernization was developed - it consists of two phases. The first phase took place in 2018-2020 and envisaged a number of works. The Foundation has developed design and estimate documentation, successfully passed the state examination, and involved experienced German experts in the process.

We have also installed an individual heating point, which reduces heat loss in the building. Individual Heat Point (IHP) has an automated heating system that responds to changing weather conditions. IHP was connected to the monitoring and remote dispatch system, which allowed real-time monitoring of information on heat and electricity and water consumption, microclimate parameters inside the building and, accordingly, most accurately adjust all automation and see any emergencies or incidents.

During the installation of the IHP, electrical works were also carried out, thermal insulation on the pipelines was replaced and restored, and the lighting system was modernized. At the same time, the ministry itself joined the project. Overhaul of the ventilation system was carried out at the expense of the state budget. They also insulated and strengthened the attic.

35 solar panels have been installed on the historic building of the Ministry of Regional Development in the center of Kyiv

In addition, solar panels were installed on the facade of the building. And the «icing on the cake» was the installation of a demonstration stand with a bicycle generator in the lobby of the building. Anyone could pedal and see on the monitor how much energy they managed to produce.

During the implementation of the project, we encountered a number of administrative and bureaucratic obstacles, primarily related to the shortcoming of the regulatory framework. The Law of Ukraine on Energy Efficiency creates the most liberal procedure for balancing such works (performed at the expense of material and technical assistance), but bylaws have not yet been brought into line with the law. There are still some contradictory points in the regulations that can perplex the process as much as possible.

But, after all, we overcame all difficulties. And not in last place because the Ministry of Regional Development contributed to solving the situation. In fact, it, as the leader of the whole affair, decided, as they say, to «experiment on themselves» and show how this can be done so that other ministries and authorities have a clear example of implementing similar projects and solutions, including legal issues.

Interaction with the authorities

In all projects, cooperation with the authorities was an integral part. Without it, to be honest, nothing could have happened in principle. More than once I heard the opinion: the authorities are not capable of anything. You know, they do not have the resources, motivation, competence and so on. I strongly disagree. Because the people, motivated by a certain interest, work in the governments. For some it is political logic (to be re-elected for the next term), for others it is a vocation, for others it is a thirst for professional self-realization. So, knock on the door - you will always be opened. I have seen this many times from my own experience.

One of the brightest examples is Okhmatdyt Hospital. We carried out work on insulation of the attic: these works were provided by our project, but the repair of the roof - no. And in order to patch the holes in the roof so that the rain would not flood our insulation, we addressed the Lviv Regional Council. Funds from the regional budget for these works were allocated as quickly as possible. This is just an example of such synergy.

Establishing productive cooperation with the authorities should be one of your priorities. Look for motivated and proactive. In essence, these criteria can influence the choice of the community in which you will implement the project.

We were lucky: often the mayors and heads of regional administrations were the first to contact us, involving us in their activities. The willingness of the authorities to be active participants in projects is always perceived as a positive signal for grant makers. They are willing to allocate funding for such projects.

Not limited to the authorities

Even if you get on with the authorities perfectly, you should not neglect communication with local communities and the final beneficiaries of the project. It can be residents of the street, residents of condominiums, schoolchildren, library staff, parents ...

All of them should be well informed about the benefits that the project will provide. Especially when it comes to the deployment of any construction. From the situation in large cities, we see that residents are very cautious of any work in the historic city center. Therefore, the beginning of any project must be very well communicated.

It also matters if, for example, the authorities at some stage «lose tone» and interest in the project. This often happens after elections - with a change of government, when the new elected officials do not want to proceed with the projects of their forerunners. In this case, motivated local communities form a certain social demand for power and serve as a kind of «stimulus». That is, in fact, playing on your reinforcement.

Our experience

The Eastern Europe Foundation is always open to cooperation. In fact, each of our projects contains an informational and educational component. Somewhere we work with the final beneficiaries (schoolchildren, residents, patients, children) - we hold lectures, develop board games on environmental issues, arrange excursions, arrange demonstration classes in schools.

But it is no less important that we ensure the exchange of experience at the expert and power levels. We hold thematic forums, speak at public events, conduct training for employees of public utilities, etc. After all, our task is not so much to modernize the facilities themselves (although this is certainly quite important), but to create the conditions for the multiplication of such practices.

By the way, we are currently preparing a forum for mayors - we want to create a platform where they can share with each other their success stories, talk about problems and ways to solve them. You can stay up to date with our news on the website of the Eastern Europe Foundation and on the Facebook page: