In some houses, using water in different rooms at the same time causes problems with pressure and temperature. You can always ask a family member to put off washing the dishes while you are taking a shower, but explaining the situation to the clients of a fitness club, when everyone wants to freshen up after a workout, is a much more daunting prospect. An advisory project with the EBRD, implemented with the support of the Kazakhstan government, helped Platinum Deluxe, a fitness centre from Karaganda, solve this very problem.
“People simply could not take a shower in peace. Once someone turned on the water in any of the six shower cubicles, the pressure would drop everywhere else,” says Yevgeniy Mikhalenko, owner of Platinum Deluxe, who together with his wife bought the business from the previous owners four years ago. One of the first modern fitness clubs in the city, Platinum Deluxe was founded 13 years ago.
“We had been loyal customers of the club long before buying it, so we were aware of areas that needed improvement and planned to start with the water issue,” says Yevgeniy.
For help, the entrepreneur turned to a local company specialising in water and heat supply systems along with energy-efficient products and solutions. The company, an EBRD consultant, suggested they carry out a full energy audit of the facility through the Bank’s business advisory programme.
Such audits have become an essential tool in the EBRD’s SME support toolkit in Kazakhstan as part of the green economy transition agenda. Along with other technical measures, they unlock SMEs’ energy efficiency potential. According to Yevgeniy, audits help in understanding the underlying issues behind visible flaws.
“Too often, people think that installing a cold water pump is all it takes. Since our region as a whole tends to have problems with water supply and quality, we had a pump, but nothing worked as intended,” he says.
The energy audit revealed that there was no uniform comfortable temperature at water consumption points due to several factors, including the lack of valves for water temperature adjustment and the lack of control and metering of the hot water supply temperature.
In addition, the audit identified problems with the air conditioning installed. Since almost 500 square metres in the fitness area are equipped with panoramic windows, the space overheated quickly and did not have time to cool down. Moreover, energy bills were too high.
The EBRD consultant implemented an energy efficient system that copes with hot and cold water supply, as well as air conditioning and heating of the building. Newly installed heat pumps cool the heated air and simultaneously heat the water to a certain temperature before sending it to the boilers. Thanks to this, Platinum Deluxe can potentially completely opt out of the centralised hot water, which negatively affects water supply networks and leads to quicker deterioration of pipes and shower mixers.
The introduction of heat pumps and other associated energy management measures helped the company save energy, which amounted to more than 1 million tenge (approx. €2,000) per year. Even with recent increases in local electricity tariffs, savings are still possible.
The main result, however, is the satisfaction of members. “The number of regular customers has increased, and now they are coming to us from other fitness clubs in the city,” says Yevgeniy.
The consultant continues to provide calibration and maintenance of the installed equipment and systems to this day, which is especially important for the long-term success of energy efficiency projects.
Platinum Deluxe’s success proves that green projects are not only for large companies. When done correctly, they can bring real benefits to small businesses. Although Platinum Deluxe did not initially set out to implement a green advisory project, the company realised early on that the changes they were making were good for the environment.
“Not a lot of people think about ecology, as they are far more interested in dividends for business. However, it is possible to achieve success while helping the environmental situation, at least on the scale of your city and region,” says Yevgeniy.