Energy saving in construction: realities and prospects


The problem of energy saving is relevant for the whole world: we can say that the development and introduction of new energy-saving technologies is the task No. 1 in the XXI century. If we talk about Ukraine, then to say that this is an urgent issue is to say nothing. Over the past year, the price of gas for people has grown by more than 50%, so the introduction of energy-saving technologies is mandatory for those who want to survive. Many, if not everyone, understand this. Buying energy-saving light bulbs and installing plastic windows is not all that can be done to save energy. Not everyone knows that there is a whole industry working in this direction. For example, we began to build energy-efficient houses in Ukraine in 2008, and since that time our company alone has built more than 250 objects

 

The use of SIP panel construction technology leads to 40% saving of fuel and 30% saving of electricity, and the construction of such a house is rather inexpensive, and construction time of one to three months. Based on these facts alone, it is safe to say that energy-saving technologies for houses will become an integral part of our everyday life in the not-too-distant future.

 

Developers of apartment buildings in recent years have spot-pointedly applied energy-efficient technologies in the implementation of projects. For example, they make insulated facades, put the cheapest windows, do not provide heat meters for each apartment, do not take into account energy efficiency conditions in the architecture (vestibules, the position of the house in relation to the cardinal points, etc.). And this despite the fact that there are several standards, which dictate the conditions for the design and implementation of buildings in terms of energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. One such standard is LEED, the voluntary green building certification system developed in 1998 by the American Green Building Council. It is a system for evaluating the energy efficiency and sustainability of sustainable development projects.

 

Designing energy-efficient homes is a highly complex process in which the interaction of many sometimes-conflicting factors must be considered. And in their construction, it is especially important not to allow even the slightest deviation from construction technologies. The price of mistakes is high and they unfortunately happen. The practice needs strictly defined rules of design, standard technologies, and design solutions, including for engineering systems.

 

The right orientation of the house on the site, as well as the right layout of the rooms, plays a big role in conserving resources in the operation of the house. For example, by designing the layout of the rooms with many windows facing north, we deprive ourselves of access to daylight and heat in the rooms where we spend most of the time. So, in addition to engineering experts for the construction of an energy-efficient house, it is recommended to involve a professional team able to fully implement the project.

 

In the field of energy conservation, there are also priorities. Taking into account the constant growth of utility rates, the main direction can be considered the construction of energy-efficient homes.

 

Judge for yourself, the market of autonomous resources is not sufficiently developed and does not have a clear legal framework. Therefore, the most expedient solution is the construction of houses that retain heat. The most cost-effective is the construction of the Canadian technology (frame and panel-frame houses). Such houses allow you to save a lot of money on their operation because they have higher rates of preserving constant temperature compared to conventional construction technologies (for example, a house of SIP panels allows you to save up to 60% of the resources for heating compared to a house of brick). However, the construction of panel-frame houses is only gaining momentum in Ukraine and is considered “new” technology, even though it has been successfully used all over the world for more than 80 years.

 

The main problem of implementation of energy-saving technologies is peculiarities of the Ukrainian mentality, particularly conservatism and non-acceptance of the new. The fact is that the unstable economic situation does not allow people to count money in long-term savings. For example, if a ground pump costs $5,000 and will save $30 a month, it is very hard to understand its benefits. It’s the same situation with other independent energy systems – their price rarely guarantees a payback. Because of this, heat-saving houses are the most developed branch of energy saving, because they have competitive prices and high quality.

 

Undoubtedly, the support of the state in such an issue would lead to more intensive development of the market. But the state is a de facto monopolist on the energy market, and one can hardly expect some progress in this issue in the nearest future. Large investors often are not interested in the further operation of their facilities, or they have companies that provide utility services and do not want to lose earnings.

 

Any investor is interested not in the thermo-modernization of a building, but in guaranteed return of investment and profit. The legislative basis of Ukraine cannot provide such guarantees for the time being.

 

The state incentives for energy efficiency increase are practically absent. The interest rates on credits are exorbitant, and without preferential credits, the energy-saving will not be widely used. At the moment the government of Ukraine is trying to find sources of energy to replace Russian gas. And any energy auditor knows that energy saving is the most accessible type of energy!

 

Olga Romanenko, CEO of ECOPAN

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