Feature Story

Warming up to success: schools embrace smart energy

February 6, 2017

Pupils in Kazakhstan
"I like the way it’s so ingenious and everything you can see here is energy-efficient - it’s like smart technology itself,” Alexander Bartkevich, third grader at Vyacheslavskaya School in Arnasay.

Kazakhstan’s classrooms are in the frontline of the battle against global warming, with green technology helping to make schools more energy efficient.

The first thing that springs into mind when you think about schools is learning and grades. But these are impossible without proper basic conditions like warmth and good light,” says Tatyana Nemtsan, head teacher of Vyacheslavskaya School in Arnasay, Akmola Region. Flickering lights and the buzzing noise made by old equipment can cause serious health problems such as bad vision and splitting headaches. 

To improve comfort and reduce costs, Tatiana’s school has piloted an array of innovative new technologies, making it a role model for energy efficiency in Kazakhstan. The school received the support of the GEF, UNDP and other donors and now boasts energy-efficient windows that reduce heat loss, solar panels to warm up the water, and LED lighting in classrooms that save energy and improve the wellbeing of the students. These measures have reduced the school’s electricity expenditure by a staggering 80%. 

Along with these innovative solutions, the school came up with the idea to create its own underground greenhouse, using photodiode lamps which emit light that halves the growing time for plants. Fresh vegetables are now available in the school all year around.

Tatyana Nemtsan is showing the underground greenhouse in Vyacheslavskaya School in Arnasay


Arnasay’s school has become a model (and a learning center) for many other schools in Kazakhstan that have seen their comfort levels going up while lowering their utility bills. 

But that is not the only gain. The schools are also proudly talking of the environmental benefits they have achieved by significantly reducing their carbon footprint, providing the students a memorable lesson in sustainability.


Astana School n.9 is one of the school that benefitted from the project. They have revamped their heating system, insulated the facade, and replace light fixtures with energy efficient ones.