Construction of an Alternative Heating System Implementing Energy Saving Measures for the Central Hospital Building of “Tsar Ferdinand I”

Project location: Bulgaria
Project start date: June 2011 - Project end date: December 2011
Project number: 0000-06
Beneficiary: Embassy of the Sovereign Order of Malta in Bulgaria


The Specialized Hospital for Pneumo-phthisiatric Diseases for Follow-up, Long-term Treatment and Rehabilitation "Tzar Ferdinand I" specializes in the treatment of patients on clinical paths, suffering from chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic respiratory insufficiency and asthma, follow-up and rehabilitation of pulmonary tuberculosis and accompanying diseases of the cardio-vascular system. The hospital was established in 1908 with a donation from Tsar Ferdinand І and is the biggest health establishment in Bulgaria, specialized in the treatment of such kind of diseases. The average annual number of patients treated at the hospital is about 2,500, of which some 1,000 have lung tuberculosis. A significant part of these patients are at social disadvantage and come from the poorest stratum of the population. The costs for their treatment are bourn by the State, however the State's subsidy for the hospital, received for the treatment of a patient, is equal to 185 euro. This sum is quite insufficient to cover the costs for treatment and hospital stay of the patients. The financial status of the hospital is particularly heavy during the winter, when heating should be provided to the treated persons. The hospital building is heated by Buderus heating boiler made of cast iron and working with diesel oil and the minimum consumption rate is 40 litres per hour or 300-350 litres per day and night under introduced scheduled mode of heating of 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening. During the colder winter days it is necessary to ensure heating of between 12 and 14 hours per day and night.
The hospital has no opportunity to buy the expensive diesel oil with its own funds and because of that it is compelled to seek donations. During the last four years the necessary funds for heating were donated by the Nando Peretti Foundation.
In 2010/2011 it was decided to make a research for a permanent solution of the heating problem of the hospital finding an alternative energy source. After different energy studies on the hospital building, the expertise of the specialists shows as a unique possible permanent solution for the future heating system of the hospital, the construction of an alternative heating system working on Gas (methane), which will provide higher energy efficiency and much lower price of the heating costs. For the efficiency of the new system the experts suggest also some indispensables energy saving measures listed below.

Moreover,  the  use of all possible alternative energy sources was reviewed in detail, namely:
- the restoration of the old water electrical power plant, which can not be performed due to the lack of the water necessary, diverted at a higher location for the needs of other projects by the competent bodies. All of the equipment and facilities have gone missing, the machines have disappeared during the years, everything is ruined and demolished as a result of the lack of the necessary water, so this alternative option is not feasible.
- initially  Solar panels were considered, but regretfully this geographical zone lacks even the minimum required hours of sun shining and heat, based on information received from the meteorological services, and in addition the building is located at the foot of undersized mountain, bordering another mountain, thus eliminating the possibility of using such natural energy system.
-  the possibility for using Pellet boilers  was reviewed carefully in all the relevant aspects, especially from economic point of view, but subsequently was waived it due to the following reasons:
1) the boiler would be oversized, thus making it impossible to be placed in the basement section;
2) in order for it to be located outside of the basement, it shall be necessary to restore an old, ruined building, meaning enormous investment for masonry, new roof, technical facilities, etc.;
3) for the pellets' deliveries, considering the high consumption, a storage premise should be equipped, located outside of the boiler room, in accordance with regulation of the Fire Department, and such premise should be kept sufficiently dry, even through the use of heating devices;
4) One of the biggest problems with such material is the humidity and moisture. The use of mechanization shall be required since if it is not well protected, it absorbs sufficient amount of moisture, causing its decay and disintegration;
5) Labour needed almost constantly 24 hours and everyday for loading / unloading and checking of the pellet tank, and for cleaning the boiler's hearth. The hospital have not employees for that work and would need to appoint two new position, that is impossible to held with the current budget;
6) In addition to the above stated, the impossibility for controlling the heating system pursuant to the needs, as a result of the difficulty in finding serious producer for uninterrupted deliveries, having stable prices for such material, which is not used for public consumption;
7) The necessity for keeping the boiler on, even during the summer, for hot water supply for any and all household needs.

Having considered any and all of the above stated complex matters and the necessity of planning certain hours of heating, for the purpose of meeting the limits of the expenses provided, the decision was made to offer a facility with a modern design, widely used and proven effective for many years, consisting of:
4 Ariston gas boilers, connected in series /cascade/, each of 100 kW, for the total of 400 kW, all of them controlled by an automated system, regulating the facility's use according to the daily / weekly / monthly plan.

The Embassy of the Order of Malta in Sofia ordered first an Energy efficiency audit of the building by experts from Eneffect Ltd ( ) the major energy efficiency Center in Bulgaria. With the frame given by the Audit of Eneffect the Embassy launched a Tender wined by the group of companies guided by GTT Ltd ( Here are proposed the final solutions of the ESM planned by Eneffect and the possible works to be done offered by GTT Ltd.

The project for construction of an alternative heating system and implementing energy saving measures in the Tsar Ferdinand I specialized hospital includes several kinds of measures, which could be summarized in four main groups:
• measures related to the improvement of the thermal resistance of the elements surrounding the building and to reduction of heat losses from transferring of heat and infiltration of cold air, respectively;
• measures for increasing the efficiency of supplying of heat;
• measures related to economy of electricity;
• measures related to introduction of alternative energy sources.
All Energy Saving Measures (ESM) have been given value and are assessed separately and are additionally summarized in a common package, for which the necessary investments as well as the expected common savings of energy and funds are specified.
A total of the energy saving measures (ESM), which aim at reducing the heat losses of the building, at finding an advantageous way of heating and production of warm water for household needs and at reducing the consumption of electricity have been analyzed under the project. The discussed and analyzed ESM are as follows:
• ЕSМ 1. Additional heat insulation of roof
• ESM 2. Reduction of glazed area of facades of partitioned terraces, placement of heat insulation and new windows
• ESM 3. Additional heat insulation of floor slab
• ESM 4. Four Ariston gas boilers, connected in series /cascade/, each of 100 kW, for the total of 400 kW, all of them controlled by an automated system, regulating the facility's use according to the daily / weekly / monthly plan.
• ESM 5. Installation of thermostatic radiator valves with the replacement of the existing crude iron radiators

Following the multiple spot visits of the site, and having reviewed the materials used for the hospital's construction, the walls' thickness and in particular the extensive and careful review of the report drafted for the purpose of improving the building in view of energy saving, was reached the following conclusions based on the conducted thermal study by Eneffect .
The building in question is really large, consisting of three floors each of 2300 m2, or exceeding 18.000 cubic meters, the underground floors excluded.
The main goal is to achieve significant savings of the current fuel consumption, through better distribution of the thermal energy, which as of the moment is much lower than the required minimum, considering the number and type of the patients admitted.
Building's insulation
Was reviewed in details this sector, which has a crucial significance for the energy efficiency and reached the conclusion that the insulation of the attic /last/ storey's floor with 10 cm. silicate cotton, taking into account that the building is similar to a huge fireplace, emitting the bigger part of the heat through the roof.
Moreover the insulation of the first storey's floor through laying insulation of 6 cm. thick Fibran heat-insulating plates shall eliminate the "fireplace" effect along the staircases of all the three storeys. In addition the four large windows (26 m2), made of ordinary "L" metal profile should be replaced with an ordinary single glass, with four windows, of the same architectural type, but using PVC 5-chamber profile and double glazed window with low-emission "Ka" glass.
Thus was complete the work on the side western wall created from the glazing of the terraces, made in the past through the use of ordinary railing of wooden ornaments and ordinary single glass for the windows, a structure having no fitness from thermal - insulation point of view, i.e. which serves no purpose during the cold weather or otherwise said from October to May.
In order to achieve better energy and thermal efficiency it is required to demolish the above - described part, replacing it with normal wall of hollow bricks, two windows with the suitable PVC 5-chamber framework, together with the required double glazed window with low-emission "Ka" glass, and replacing both sides of the former terraces with two walls of hollow bricks, all of these structures adequately insulated and sealed.
Was envisaged no insulation of the building's external walls, since they are 50 cm. thick and have good heat and thermal - insulation characteristics. However it should be taken into account that the bigger part of the surface consists of windows, replaced several years ago, with the suitable PVC framework and double glazed window.
Using the above described works and procedures we shall achieve significant heat and thermal reserve, eliminating thoroughly the heat losses caused by the "fireplace" effect to the buildings.
Thermal facilities
The current way of heating, using a large oil boiler is still effective, although it is more than 10 years old, but it is a system that was suitable to be used in the past when the oil prices were less than a tenth of the price nowadays.
The boiler is very large, with dimensions 4 x 2 x 2 meters height, i.e. a significant period from the 4 hours during which the boiler is on is used for the heating itself, in order to preserve the current annual consumption of diesel fuel.
The current heating system does not meet the requirements for optimum management, although it monitors the consumption and provides for the energy saving's management regardless of the fact it dates back from the time when no such necessity has existed, considering the low energy costs then.

Ariston gas boilers, connected in series /cascade/, each of 100 kW, for the total of 400 kW, all of them controlled by an automated system, regulating the facility's use according to the daily / weekly / monthly plan.
Such type consecutively connected (cascade) boilers shall be located in one and the same premise, next the present one, which shall not be demolished, but special valves shall be used connected to the heating water distribution system.
The principle used is that the switching on and work of one or more boilers shall be performed based on parameters set by the programming devise: for the desired hours of usage, for the switching off during night time upon minimum consumption, i.e. only limited capacity of the cascade boilers is on, thus the restoration of the heat supply during the following morning can be achieved quickly and with low energy consumption, any and all of these functions computer controlled.
Also taken into consideration was the use of one gas boiler of 1000 liters, 37 kW with independent action, in order to avoid the usage of the overall facility for the supply of hot water for household needs, automatically controlled, i.e. it shall be off when no need of water exists, working only with minimum required programmed thermal maintenance.
Gas methane can be supplied in bottles with rotor valve mechanism from several companies, in particular from a company located only several kilometers from the hospital, being supplier to the regional companies and also to the Kraft Suchard chocolate factory, which serves as a guarantee for its reliability.
The container with the bottles shall be located outside, as legally required and shall be connected underground to the conduit and pipes to the facility.
The whole system shall be protected and equipped with series of accessories, valves, pressure gauges, etc., as well as pipes of special materials, automatic control for gas leakage and prevention.
The modernization shall be completed with the replacement of the existing crude iron radiators, at least 50 years old, most of them clogged by limestone accumulated for decades, thus decreasing sufficiently the quantity of the water retained, and within such meaning increasing the efficiency of the respective heat distribution.
The serious defect of the old radiators, retaining huge amount of water with low capacity for heat transfer and distribution, shall be overcome through the use of the new technologies.
As expected, for energy saving purpose the new radiators shall be equipped with valves for better work or switching off.
Usage and programming
It is planned a short training course on the manner of the system's usage for achieving the maximum of the capacities thereof and, in particular on the way of saving large quantities of gas.
Having explained how the system works to more people will eliminate the need of using special staff for the heating system, with only normal monitoring required according to the building's particular function.
The maximum automation foreseen allows for better autonomy and consumption's control of the equipment and facilities, avoiding the accumulation of residues and consumption wasted, as well preventing any thefts.

The anticipated achievements or outcomes of this project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation are the following.

Currently, the hospital building is heated by means of a local boiler using industrial fuel oil. The building is solid, three-storey one, with a basement. The heated area of the building is 5,056 m2, and the net heated volume stands at 18,449 cu m. The measurements of the temperature conditions show that the building is heated below the standard heating values.
The funds necessary for the hospital to cover fully its energy needs under the current status of the building and the installations would be total 214,697 leva or 109,634 euro annually. The hospital used until now one half of this supposed necessary found practising a lot of economies.
Upon the implementation of all proposed energy saving measures (ESM), the total energy costs to cover fully its energy needs of the hospital, 24 h per day and 7 days per week, will be reduced to about 70,500 leva annually or about 36,000 euro. Using maximum automation foreseen allows better autonomy and consumption's control of the equipment and facilities.

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