Today the World Bank team headed by Charles M. Feinstein, ECSSD Sector Manager, visited Minsk secondary school #33, which has been renovated under the Social Infrastructure Retrofitting Project supported by a World Bank loan.
The facility has undergone significant upgrading aimed at improving energy-efficiency: from the overhaul of heating supply systems to the replacement of windows so that energy consumption has been reduced by 14 percent.
The school built 40 years ago is the second home for 368 pupils and their teachers. The building like many other social institutions was constructed during the Soviet times and was equipped with outdated and inefficient heating and lighting systems that consumed excessive amounts of energy and affected the health of children.
With the World Bank support the school lighting system has been renovated and not it is energy efficient and eye-friendly. “The level of noise coming from lamps before the renovation was really depressing”, the school principal noted. A modern heating substation with automatic heating supply control has been installed to maintain an optimal indoor temperature all-year-round.
When gas prices rise, schools and other social facilities are the first to cut their consumption. “Energy efficiency is part of school curriculum. At the end of each lesson students on duty switch off the light to save electricity during a break. But what was done is not only about saving but about health of our children – what we value the most”, the school principal explained.
The World Bank loan funds have been used to retrofit 600 schools, kindergartens, community homes for the elderly, hospitals, and outpatient clinics in Minsk as well as other regions in Belarus. The project is close to completion. By estimates, retrofitting of each facility leads to 20-25 percent reduction in energy consumption – it is sufficient for heating an additional small block of twelve 70-apartment buildings or 10-15 schools for a year.
“It is a unique opportunity and a real pleasure for people like me to see results of our work on the ground”, Charles M. Feinstein admitted to the school administration. “It is more than a technical project. The results can not be possible without such a level of enthusiasm you demonstrate. I am very touched with your passion and pride about the school and the children”.
At the end of the day the World Bank experts will be meeting Deputy Prime Minister to discuss a new possible operation in the energy sector which could be supported by the World Bank to address the key priorities for the Government - reducing the country energy dependency and increasing energy efficiency.