Students in Ukraine Learn Energy Effiecency!

Time is ticking to lower energy use in Ukraine

Currently, Ukraine uses as much gas as the United States but produces a fraction of the amount of the goods and services. Why so much gas? Because of wasted energy use: Poorly insulated heating mains and buildings lose nearly 70 percent of generated heat. Moreover, many Ukrainian citizens don’t try to save on heat — most of which is imported — because state subsidies have kept gas prices artificially low.

But tariffs for gas and heating doubled in early August, and energy prices are set to skyrocket once the country joins the European Union. So Ukraine is on the fast track to lower its energy use.

MHR Project leaders realized that Ukraine’s energy efficiency future lies with its children. To raise a generation of conscientious energy consumers, MHR created the Energy Efficient Schools and Campuses (EESC) program.

Energy Efficiency Course: Learning Through Lessons

The two-month EESC program was piloted in February 2010 at 12 voluntary middle schools in five cities across Ukraine. In sixth-grade science classes, text books and lessons taught students the fundamentals of heat supply and conservation, as well as how to save energy efficiently. Students also learned about the importance of paying for heat on time, a problem in Ukraine that prevents heating companies from supplying quality services.

Assignments involved solving hands-on energy conservation problems, finding ways to use heat rationally, and calculating heat consumption and costs; students also took field trips to heat supply companies.

Heat Audits: Putting it into Practice

For their final project, students conducted heat audits at school and home, and provided heat-saving recommendations.

Using take-home energy audit kits, students ran several tests to identify needed improvements to their home energy use. Meanwhile, parents learned about energy efficiency by helping their children with their homework.

“While doing the audit, I was extremely shocked by our family’s hot water consumption,” said Elmas Emirsanova, a student at School No. 12 in Yevpatoriia, a city in western Ukraine.

Emirsanova’s parents helped her assess the insulation of the front door, measure the temperature and surface area of each room, and compare temperatures per square meter. She noted that her father had already insulated the windows, but the family needed to move furniture away from their radiators.

“After that, we all are saving not only heat but also electricity and water,” Emirsanova said.

Results: Changing Energy-Use Behavior, One Family at a Time

After the pilot project ended in April, nearly all participating schools developed their own low-cost, energy-saving projects; most local governments are financing those projects in part or in full. For instance, the government of Kramatorsk — a city in eastern Ukraine — granted Hr 10,000 ($1,200) to three schools for heat insulation projects.

In a program survey, 96 percent of students rated EESC very highly and 93 percent of parents consider it useful for their children. “This course is extremely important, as it has a practical focus that transforms the children from indifferent consumers into thoughtful proprietors,” said Viktor Karpenko, chairman of the School No. 12 parents committee.

“I learned a lot about heat, how it gets to our building, and how to save heat correctly,” said Daria Tatarenko, a student from Kramatorsk’s School No. 4. “I shared my knowledge with my family once I realized that not all of them were aware of this issue.”

Phase 2: More Schools, More Cities

To help EESC spread to every Ukrainian city, the Ministry of Education and Science recommended that all Ukrainian secondary schools use the EESC course. The Ministry also pledged to compensate teachers for the extra instruction and to pay printing costs for the course textbook.

The MHR Project is incorporating feedback from the pilot and will relaunch EESC in September 2010. At that time, EESC will continue in the first 12 schools and start up in an additional 12 secondary schools across another five cities, as well as four higher educational institutions: the universities of Khmelnytsky, L’viv, Poltava and Rovno.

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