Warming up to success: Schools in Kazakhstan upgrade to smart energy

Children in school
Kozhakhmetova Dariya and Upilkov Maxim, prize winners.

Maxim Upilkov and Dariya Kozhakhmetova  recently won third place in a competition organized by school #25 in Astana. Under the supervision of their physics teacher, Maxim and Dariya compared energy efficiency of their homes and other residential buildings, and quantified the cost-saving benefits of upgrading to smart energy.


  • Learning environment was improved for 1,200 children and 68 teachers.
  • Cost-savings with increased energy efficiency in the first year was about 30% of the annual utility costs.
  • Emissions of greenhouse gases avoided are 103,8 tons for the year.
  • Heat saving for hot water supply is 80% for the year.
  • Heat saving in the building is 29% for the years.

“We’d never thought that energy efficiency could be such an interesting niche for research,” shared Maxim and Dariya.  “Not to mention, it’s given us an incentive to make a difference in our surroundings. We hope that this project grows into something bigger in our lives and, maybe, we’ll work in areas related to energy-efficiency in the future.”

The competition was organised as part of a broader initiative to make Maxim and Dariya’s school more energy-efficient. Until recently, Maxim and Dariya’s school has faced challenges in keeping its staff and students warm, which created unfavourable conditions for learning. As a result, the staff and students have had to improvise quick-fix solutions to keep warm, such as applying paper tape to windows.

That changed when School 25 was recently chosen as a pilot school for a new energy initiative, launched across Kazakhstan by UNDP and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Many changes have been made in the school, including the installation of energy-saving windows, a weather-dependent automated heating system, and balancing valves to ensure even distribution of heat throughout the building.

 “Our students are now able to focus on their lessons, we have reduced our heat losses and our utility costs have gone down in 2015,” said Sairan Gajsina, the principal of the school #25. “The changes create environmental benefits, too, as we have significantly reduced our greenhouse gas emissions. This makes us proud.”

Children are now able to focus on their lessons in a classroom with new energy saving windows.

Energy issues have also been integrated into the school’s curriculum. The school administration is making efforts to ensure both teachers and students better understand the relevance of energy efficiency in their lives.

“Economic benefits from the changes are obvious, but what really encourages me is the new opportunities we have been able to create for learning. We look forward to seeing this model replicated throughout educational institutions in Astana and the rest of Kazakhstan.”

UNDP in Kazakhstan is currently piloting the initiative in two schools in Aktau and Kyzylorda. Once the piloting is completed, there are plans to  take stock of lessons learned and apply the initiative in other schools throughout Kazakhstan.

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