Kyrgyzstan: Energy-efficient school offers national lessons

children at school
Children at a kindergarten in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: Aida Mambetkulova/UNDP in Kyrgyzstan)

In Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city of Osh, a new school has become Central Asia’s most energy efficient building. Incorporating state-of-the-art design principles, it consumes 50 percent less energy than similar structures, saving US $20,000 annually.

More than 970 children now study in warm classrooms in winter and wash with solar-heated water – no small achievement in an area where unreliable energy and power frequently disrupt work, school and home life.

“For the first time, I can work in a cozy and comfortable school without drafts,” says Saltanat Amanova, the school’s principal. “The windows and doors are energy efficient, and the interior walls are warm even in cold weather since the thermal insulation is of high quality.”

Highlights

  • Kyrgyzstan adopted new building codes to reduce energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions by 30 to 40 percent by 2020.
  • By 2012, 95 percent of all designs complied with the new codes.
  • As new school built with the codes uses 50 percent less energy than similar structures, saving US $20,000 annually.
  • The project is supported by UNDP and financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

To achieve high performance levels, architects minimized the building’s external surface – its perimeter is 1.5 times smaller than that of schools with the same student capacity – in order to reduce heat loss. In addition, rounded angles and ample skylights decrease the amount of energy required to operate the building.

This region-leading approach has resulted in major energy savings. Furthermore, building in the energy-efficient features increased construction costs for the 9,000 square-metre structure by only 5 percent ($270,000), a sum that can be recouped in as little as eight years.  

The construction was supported by the Turkish International Development Agency (TIKA). The pilot programme demonstrates the country’s new emphasis on energy efficiency – work that has been supported by UNDP and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

Most buildings in Kyrgyzstan were constructed during the Soviet era, when energy was highly subsidized and little attention was paid to energy efficiency. With almost no fossil fuel of its own,  the Kyrgyz Republic imports about 95 percent of its energy needs for heating. Thus a reduction of even 1 to 2 percent in energy consumption would yield large savings.

Average energy consumption is three to five times higher than in the European Union, putting a major drag on Kyrgyzstan’s economy. Buildings consume 37 percent of the country’s energy, but a lot of the heat goes out the window. Some 32 percent of children in schools reported in 2011 that they were cold in their classrooms in winter.

In November 2008, the Government set a goal to reduce energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector by between 30 and 40 percent by 2020.

With support from UNDP and financing from the GEF, the Government adopted internationally-recognized building energy performance codes; trained building and construction professionals in their implementation; and established a system to monitor energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector.

The new codes and regulations were put into effect in January 2010. Standards for thermal performance of buildings are in line with similar EU standards – which are the most stringent in the world.

To promote adoption of the codes, UNDP organized training courses for more than 150 architecture and construction professionals in energy performance assessments, energy savings and energy efficiency.

UNDP also provided books on energy-efficient construction in university engineering and architectural programs and supported the establishment of a thermal imaging laboratory to check the compliance of completed buildings to their original design.

Annual energy consumption in the pilot buildings decreased by up to 55 kilowatts per square meter, and the codes are catching on. By 2012, 95 percent of all designs complied with the new codes, compared to 65 percent in 2011.