Interview with Annalisa Vita

If you want to – and you understand Italian – you can also watch the interview on YouTube.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Welcome to another interview with our stakeholders and with the
actors dealing with clean energies and hydrogen in Modena and all over Italy. I thank Annalisa Vita of
the Province of Modena for being here today.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): Good morning.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Today we are with an important public institution of Modena.
We’re in the Hydrogen Valley and the Province plays a major role for our territory. I’ll leave the
details to Annalisa who will clarify what the Province does and will explain and give information that
usually isn’t really clear or that we don’t know at all.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): Sure. Thank you, Barbara. Good morning everyone. I’ll
start with the duties of the Province. I’ll introduce this subject because lately, people often mention the
Province and there may be a lot of confusion about it. The Province is responsible for the road and
building management of upper secondary schools. I’m a member of the building management team
and my focus is on school maintenance, building, renovation and management but I also deal with
ordinary maintenance works and special electric and heating system management. This is why the
Province plays a major role since it ensures and manages heating systems in schools. It decides when
turning these systems on and off and deals with an essential subject, which is energy saving in
economic and environmental terms.
The Province of Modena has been planning a new contract for a year, since the one we’re working on
will be closed on the 30th of September. Three experts and I have been planning a new contract for a
year: the new energy service. This service costs 25 million euros. I’ll give you some figures to make
you understand how important it is: the service involves 88 buildings, 80 of which are schools and
Province’s buildings. There are 35,000 students in our schools, then there are professors and nonteaching staff, so it’s like a little town. We always try to mix business with pleasure and when we
planned this contract for the heating management we have included both mandatory and optional
interventions. Some interventions might be offered during the call, while other energy efficiency
interventions are mandatory and will reduce energy consumption from 8 to 10%. If we also implement
optional interventions, the consumption will be reduced by 20%.
What can the Province do in a period with no funds in order to include these upgrading interventions?
It’s a very interesting system. It’s basically the EPC contract, the Energy Contract Project. We ask our
contractors to make the interventions in the first year, then the Province gives them an amortization
charge and gives them back the money to repay these interventions. In simple terms, the interventions
pay for themselves. Obviously, we study the economic balance, so we choose interventions which are
not too expensive and which ensure good energy efficiency. With this system we’ll realize many
upgrading interventions.
I’ll list them quickly. We’ll provide two schools with exterior insulation and finish systems, we’ll
relamp schools, we’ll replace old ceiling lights with LEDs and provide classrooms to the south-west of
some prefabs with thermostatic valves to turn off the heating system when it’s needed. This represents
a big energy waste in schools, you often see schools with open windows, we must stop doing that. We
have also included energy efficiency interventions in pumping systems, the restoration of distribution
systems and a hydrogen boiler.
To be honest, the hydrogen boiler won’t pay for itself because it isn’t an energy saving intervention.
But if all the others will pay for themselves, we can invest in an important pilot project to set the
example for our territory and for Italy. It’s essential that public bodies pave the way for these new
technologies to make private entities invest in them and to show that this technology really works and
is carbon neutral. So, in my opinion, the role of the Province is as important as the role of other public
bodies.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): I’ll stop you for one second because you’re saying very important
things. We have promoted projects to change the environmental behavior in schools focusing on
energy, water and so on.
When the students start mapping the energy losses in their school, they realize that these systems need
to be renovated. They also realize that leaving the light on or having their phone or laptop
continuously plugged in is not good, it’s important not to waste energy. Public bodies help to improve
students’ behavior. We’re talking about schools, but these simple rules apply to any entity and they are
fundamental, in my opinion. I’m saying this because it can be useful for other authorities and because
local authorities, municipalities and provinces play an essential role as well. Sorry for interrupting, but
I just wanted to say this.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): I totally agree with you. I was about to explain how we
came up with the idea of a hydrogen boiler. I had this idea thanks to the decrees of the Province of
Modena and the President of the Province Gian Domenico Tomei, who encourages the use of
hydrogen cars and is trying to build a refueling station near Carpi to cover all the Brenner Motorway,
since there is already one station in Bolzano. I’ll read something he said during a conference on clean
energies. “Hydrogen is an opportunity to reduce smog. If you really want to improve your behavior
and respect the environment, you must invest in new technologies, in clean and renewable energy.
Local authorities must create the suitable conditions to do business by using this technology, which
will improve air quality, a major problem in the Po Valley”.
In Europe, there are countries who are investing a lot in it. In Germany there are 71 refueling stations,
we have to follow this path. Back to our project, I wanted to explain which school was chosen and
why. I might also talk about our work with schools. We chose the Meucci Institute in Carpi and we
decided to power its gym. We chose this school for many reasons.
First, the school is easy to reach with transports by the Brenner Motorway and by a large bypass. We
thought about means of transport and hydrogen transport because we didn’t want to create traffic
problems. Then, there is a wide green area which will enable us to build a reinforced concrete building
to stock hydrogen because we have to heat the gym constantly. The cherry on the top is that it might
be possible to place solar panels on the gym rooftop to produce hydrogen there. This is great news
because if we produce hydrogen on our own, we’ll have a school without CO2 emissions. We’ll also
remove CO2 due to transport. This is an optional part of the project.
It is compulsory to install the hydrogen boiler with its stocking building to comply with regulations
and fire safety certificates. If we are offered the call, we might also have a solar plant. The
Commission is working on the call, they started two days ago and I don’t have this information yet,
but we might keep up.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Exactly. It’s important to promote this pilot project so that it’ll be
known in all Italian Provinces. The interesting aspect about the FCHgo project is that there is an
international contest for schools where students must think about new applications for hydrogen
energy. People usually talk about cars and vehicles, as you mentioned, but here we have an example in
a different sector showing that this clean energy can serve other purposes. This is why it’s important to
promote this information to understand how it is and to actually see it. When it comes to your
relationship with the territory, you have talked about the school and explained exhaustively its
selection. Who are the other actors connected with the region you work with? What’s the most
important in the direct relationship with schools?

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): The main actors are obviously school principals because
we decide with them the management of the school. It’s like they were our tenants, they manage and
are responsible for all the students, we cooperate very well together. We have been working together
in a very productive way during the Covid-19 emergency. This is essential to finish all our projects.
I’ve proposed to the principals to organize conferences in schools and some have already said yes. If
they want, they can also create school projects on hydrogen to raise awareness among students about
the work we do behind the scenes that is often unnoticed. Unfortunately, this is something that we
have noticed and we’re trying to involve not only principals, but also students. Before the Covid-19
emergency we met some student representatives because we realized that most of the time they don’t
know what goes on behind the walls of their schools.
We have faced many challenges. Like municipalities, we have a very old building stock which
requires a complete renovation of structures and energy and fire prevention systems. There are many
things to work on and I believe in lightweight construction for schools. We must think about this
renovation because we’re always running after regulations, but we don’t keep up with them. When we
fix something, there are a thousand more to fix. It’s complex. We would like to make the students
understand that behind these buildings which may seem old, there are both visible and invisible works.
Over the years it has happened that people didn’t respect the facilities and this is a thing that often
happens. Fifteen years ago, my predecessor had installed thermostatic valves in a school, which were
completely vandalized after some months. I want to try again because today students are more aware
about environmental problems. In my opinion, they just need to be involved. Schools have to help us
with projects about hydrogen and energy efficiency so that students can understand the devices we
install in their schools. Doing this, I’m sure that this event won’t repeat itself and students will give us
other suggestions and ideas.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Yes, they have to be involved directly and they have to be aware that
having a positive attitude is essential.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): I have held conferences where students were well read
and very interested in environmental subjects. In comparison with other conferences, they bombarded
me with questions and it was great to see the energy of interested students. There’ll be a project
involving schools which might be very useful to make them understand what lies behind this.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Absolutely. Our interview is another example of synergy to reach
schools, students, professors and all the people working in schools who must be aware and must know
the possible strategies to improve energy efficiency and to reduce our environmental impact. It is also
important to show the economic impact of the energy management of buildings allowing these
investments. Cooperation is the key, students and people who work in schools might cooperate. It’s
essential. Maybe, with our FCHgo contest, students might come up with ideas for the Province to do
other interventions with hydrogen. That’s what we hope.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): We’re open to suggestions. We’re an effervescent entity,
which is very important otherwise we will be useless. You’ll see in a while some pictures of the
previous contract which will make you see a real intervention which modernized a run-down institute.
Architectural lines were lost, you can see the photos of three beautiful buildings, some are ancient and
others modern, but they are all new. This school is the Cattaneo Institute. You can see the renovation
works. The old building clashed with its extension, there was a contrast between an old ugly building
and a new one. We installed an exterior insulation and finish system, we renovated windows and we
totally transformed the building. We gave a real sign to mix business with pleasure. We struggled to
renovate this building because there were always other priorities, there weren’t safety problems, it was
just ugly. This intervention always ended up at the end of our list. We included it in the compulsory
and optional interventions of the previous call. We worked on building envelopes to restore the beauty
of this run-down building.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Thank you. These examples really help and allow us to get into
the subject and to know what you can do. Thank you, Annalisa, thank you for your time. I love
interviewing experts because you always give us new insights and ideas enriching this new path.
Thank you.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): Thank you for the opportunity to show these projects
because we’re always in a hurry and we don’t promote and let you know about our projects. Often
people don’t even know what we do. Next year during the works for compulsory interventions we
might talk again to let you know what will be offered. Then in the design phase we might show the
interventions we made to have real examples.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): We might film it with our camera to give an example of what can
be done.
Thank you again.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): Thank you.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Good luck with these interventions.

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): Thank you. We’ll keep in touch to encourage hydrogen
energy in schools because I really believe it’s the technology of the future.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Thank you!

Annalisa Vita (Ing., Province of Modena): Thank you. Bye!

 

 

 

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