Astana school completes energy efficiency upgrade

By Svitlana  Pyrkalo

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Girls dancing in Astana school

The EBRD’s sustainable energy investments top €13.4 billion, but one project in Kazakhstan is especially valuable for the Bank. It is not the largest nor the most famous, but very special nonetheless.

School no. 25 in Astana, the Kazakh capital, recently celebrated its new energy efficient windows, insulation and a new, more efficient heating system made possible by a grant from the EBRD and KEGOC, the operator of the country’s national grid.

The grant was signed at the school during the 2011 EBRD annual meeting. In Astana, the EBRD supported a project designed to reduce CO2 emissions and thus offset the carbon emissions which result from holding an event of this scale in a far-away venue. In part, the goal was to draw public attention to environmental issues and to the importance of investment in energy efficiency.

This was the case in Astana, site of the Bank’s 20th Annual Meeting, where more than half of the guests flocked to the Central Asian steppe, mostly by air, from outside Kazakhstan.

The EBRD teamed up with KEGOC to offset the carbon footprint of this event by providing a €160,000 grant to improve energy efficiency at a school in the Kazakh capital.

“In addition to offsetting carbon emissions,” noted Janet Heckman, EBRD Director for Kazakhstan, “we wanted to demonstrate that investment in energy efficiency is not just good for the environment, but makes good financial sense. The school will save a lot of money on its energy bills – not to mention warmer, more comfortable rooms for deserving young people.”

School no. 25 is located in the older area of town and provides around 1,000 students with a bilingual education in Russian and Kazakh, with various other foreign languages also on offer. Though educational standards are impressive, the building is less so, dating from Soviet times and built with little regard for energy consumption. With temperatures frequently dropping below -30 °C, inefficient use of energy can become very expensive.

The EBRD’s grant helped the school to replace its windows, to install proper insulation for the building’s walls, as well as a modern heating system. All these measures will reduce energy consumption by some 1,566 gigajoules (GJ) per year and will save about €4,000 from the school’s annual heating bill – money better used for educational purposes.

The environment will prosper too: CO2 emissions will be reduced by approximately 250 tons per year. As for the students and staff, rooms will be more evenly heated and maintenance of the heating system far more simple.

The project was implemented by the UNDP and the EBRD Astana Resident Office, which went to considerable lengths to select the best and most efficient construction technologies, materials and contractors to bring the project to fruition.

Since the beginning of its operations in Kazakhstan, the EBRD has invested close to US$ 6.5 billion in the country’s economy, with more than half of the Bank’s projects supporting the private sector.

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