New heating system for Croatian children’s home

By Mike McDonough

A children's home near Zagreb will benefit from a new highly-efficient heating system after the EBRD signed a €120,000 grant agreement with the Croatian government to offset carbon emissions.

A children's home in the hills above Zagreb in Croatia will benefit from a new, highly-efficient heating system after the EBRD signed a €120,000 grant agreement with the Croatian government on Thursday to offset carbon emissions from the Bank's forthcoming Annual Meeting.

The Dom Tuškanac home for children and young people with learning disabilities and behavioural problems occupies an historic building on the outskirts of the city. Its current boiler system is over 30 years old, inefficient and costly to run.

Warm classrooms and bedrooms

The new heating and hot water apparatus funded by the grant will provide warm classrooms and bedrooms for the home's 70 residents aged between nine and 21 while cutting energy consumption by at least a quarter.

"This grant is vital for the future successful work of the institution," said the home's director, Zdenko Mlakar. "This building is old. This creates many maintenance problems and this donation will give us a new lease of life."

EBRD offsets carbon footprint

The EBRD estimated the cost of offsetting the carbon footprint of its Annual Meeting and Business Forum on 14-15 May at €60,000. This amount was matched by the Aggmore Kaufmann Partnership, developers of the City Center One shopping centres in Split and Zagreb and leaders in the design and construction of energy-efficient commercial properties.

"The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is a bank, but a special kind of bank," EBRD President Thomas Mirow told the children at the Dom Tuškanac during the signing ceremony in the home's wood-panelled main room. "We try to improve the economy of the country we are engaged in and also look very closely at environmental and social affairs and at the impact of our investments."

Mr Mirow told the home’s director: "I admire what you are doing and I think it deserves a lot of support. I wish this institution well and especially I wish all these young people well and a very good future."

Birthday marks start of extensive renovation project

Croatian State Secretary for Social Welfare Dorica Nikolic, who co-signed the grant agreement, noted that the Dom Tuškanac was celebrating its 65th birthday and that the new boiler system was just the start of an extensive renovation project.

Ms Nikolic added that, at a time when many countries in the region were experiencing economic difficulties, "this donation means even more to us."

After the signing ceremony, President Mirow and fellow visitors toured the home's main building and saw an exhibition of arts and crafts produced by the children as well as a selection of sports trophies awarded to Dom Tuškanac residents.

Saving energy

The grant funds from the EBRD and the Aggmore Kaufmann Partnership will be used to replace the home's outdated boiler system with eight modular, high-efficiency condensed-gas units. The new boilers are expected to result in minimum energy savings of 25 percent while carbon reduction (CO2) over the life of the system is estimated at 650 tonnes.

The donation follows similar grant agreements in 2008 to a children's home in Ukraine, ahead of the 2008 Annual Meeting in Kiev, and to a paediatric hospital for abandoned children in Kazan, Russia, where the EBRD held its 2007 Annual Meeting.