A Canadian-Ukrainian in Kyiv – Part 6: Renewal

After four months in Kyiv our plans are really starting to come together. My colleagues and I have progressed from the theoretical to the practical – from providing ideas & guidance to planning the reconstruction of villages. My time has been spent wrangling meetings with local and federal government officials and assembling the best team in Ukraine to not only rebuild Andriivka and Kozarovychi, but to rebuild them better

This terrible war has destroyed lives and buildings, however with adversity often comes opportunity. Now’s the time to carefully plan the resurrection of Ukraine by rebuilding towns with modern vision and technology. 

There’s no place like home

Soviet-era buildings in Ukraine are notoriously drafty and inefficient, usually made with very little insulation. The average Ukrainian home is 80 square metres (861 sq.ft.), and uses 100 kWh of energy per square metre per month, or 96,000 kWh per year. For context, the average energy consumption of a four-person German household is less than 8000 kWh per year.

There are many reasons for the inefficiency of homes in Ukraine. Corruption and theft in the construction sector is rampant as builders scrimp on insulation and quality windows to make a few extra bucks. Another is the Soviet-era infrastructure. With virtually unlimited access to centralized heating and water provided by a vast network of underground pipes that crisscross the nation, conservation has never been top-of-mind for citizens.

However, thanks to Russia many of those pipes are now destroyed. Water and heat are very scarce. Focusing on efficiency and sustainability is vitally important for the reconstruction of Ukraine as echoed by Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently in the Guardian.

Build back better

Ukraine must break the old Soviet habit of building homes and apartments to the minimum standards necessary to house its people. The daily attacks on the centralized energy and water system have proven that they must be reimagined as well.

From adversity comes opportunity

The massive scale of rebuilding in Ukraine will take decades so it needs to begin now. That’s why we are paying particular attention to Andriivka and Kozarovychi. We are designing plans for rehabilitated villages with new energy efficient homes, schools and businesses. Old houses that require new roofs and windows will receive insulation upgrades to improve their efficiency.

All the centralized asbestos water pipes from destroyed treatment plants will be replaced with new piping to local wells and modern plants. Heat and electricity from centralized Soviet facilities will give way to heat pumps, solar panels and battery storage. We will create homes and villages that we’d be proud to live in, because that’s what Ukrainians deserve, and it’s the right thing to do.

Rebuilding Ukraine to modern standards of energy efficiency and sustainability is a necessity for the nation to recover its productivity as quickly as possible. The remnants of Soviet-era centralized control must be cast aside so Ukraine can renew not only its infrastructure, but also its democracy for which they are fighting so bravely.