Uzbekistan: Revising energy codes, piloting energy savings

 Solar panels in Uzbekistan
Residents attend the opening ceremony for a new school in the Kurgantepa district, Uzbekistan. The school is one of eight pilot sites for a joint UNDP / GEF project aimed at improving energy efficiency in public buildings. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

In winters past, electricity and hot water would all but stop flowing to School No. 2 in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan. To cope with the sub-zero temperatures, it would heat with coal, wood and sometimes dried cow dung. Makeshift stoves were used to heat classrooms to tolerable temperatures. Sometimes children would study in heavy coats.

The school was selected to participate in an eight-building pilot to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency. It was fully insulated, and new plastic double-glazed windows and doors were installed. Airlocks were introduced to keep the building warmer in winter and cooler in summer.


  • A pilot project to improve energy efficiency in public buildings helped reduce consumption by 67% in the renovated buildings.
  • New building codes including energy efficiency are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 870,000 tons.
  • 480 national experts and 376 students were trained in new standards for energy-efficient construction.

“I am very happy that our school will now be warm and well-lit in winter and cool in summer because it has been renovated,” says Nozima Ibrohimova, an eighth grader. School attendance rose to almost 100 percent in winter after the building had been renovated.

The eight-building pilot was initiated by the Government, the Global Environment Facility and UNDP. Two energy-efficient schools were built, and four schools and two health clinics were renovated.

An energy audit conducted before the retrofits estimated that energy consumption in these buildings would fall by 67 percent. The new buildings were estimated to consume 31 percent less energy than conventional buildings. The energy efficiency measures are expected to save 1.53 million kilowatt hours annually or 191,250 cubic metres of gas – equivalent to nearly $13,500 for the eight buildings.

To construct and retrofit buildings in the eight-building pilot, GEF contributed about 15 percent of the $641,000 cost; the remainder was borne by the Government, showing strong national support for the measures.

In 2005, the Government of Uzbekistan decided to construct and renovate buildings to meet the needs of its rapidly growing population and to improve the dilapidated infrastructure that it had inherited from the Soviet period. It resolved to deliver more than 10.8 million square metres of new and renovated space by 2015.

UNDP convinced the Government to invest in energy-efficient designs and technologies that would conserve its energy supplies and ensure better infrastructure for a population that then numbered almost 27 million, larger by 29 percent than at the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Aiming for a 25 percent reduction in energy consumption, the Government revised and adopted 10 core national building codes and standards, with UNDP assistance.  For the first time, energy-efficiency concepts and principles were integrated into new building codes, including 53 new technical terms that define minimum energy efficiency standards. The new practices are now mandatory for new or renovated buildings.

Energy efficiency is a major issue. It costs approximately $350 million a year to heat buildings in winter and provide hot water. Many buildings are now outdated and have been earmarked for replacement or renovation. Once new public buildings reflect energy-efficient building codes they will reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 870,000 tons, according to the International Energy Agency.

UNDP has focused on providing people with knowledge and experience to comply with the new codes. Some 480 national experts from nine government agencies and design organizations were trained in the new energy-efficient building codes.

“Building energy-efficient buildings is a common problem for architects, designers and builders, but doing so will ultimately lead to a reduction in energy consumption while reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Natalya Derkunova, a construction specialist who took part in the training.

Three new educational standards, five educational programmes, one academic module, and two training programs were developed by the Tashkent State Technical University and the Tashkent Architecture and Construction Institute, supported by UNDP. Sixteen masters students, 200 bachelor students and 160 construction specialists have been trained.