In 2010, we investigated and implemented alternative heating solutions for 100 rural Mongolian schools that were chopping down over 500 tons of live wood per school, per season. What we found was a lack of building codes that led to uninsulated schools and ineffective heating.
Cold Classrooms vs. Falling Forests
In March 2010, JUCCCE was invited by Local Solutions Foundation to witness the widespread deforestation in Khuvsgul province, and advise on rural energy options. Heating is a major issue that impacts everyone in Mongolia. As populations grow and development progresses heating has an increasing cost to the natural environment. Mongolia’s forests are being decimated by people trying to stay warm. Often the worst affected by this situation are schools.
Rising heating costs are the greatest expense for schools across Mongolia. The government has been trying to combat this issue by introducing a law protecting remaining forests by prohibiting the cutting of live trees. However, this requires dead wood to be collected which radically increases transportation costs. Schools face a dilemma: they must either break the law and exacerbate the effects of deforestation, or pay more each year for fuel - often out of their heating budgets. The only way schools can combat this is by becoming more energy efficient and finding alternative sources of fuel that do not jeopardize Mongolia’s forests.
Finding a solution for schools facing this heating dilemma brings hope that similar strategies can be adopted in other poor regions as well.
Establishing an Energy Efficient Solution
JUCCCE conducted a ten-day scoping study of school heating systems in Khuvsgul province. The published report at the conclusion of the study highlighted 4 areas for action with tangible plans to empower other actors to carry forward development - public education, professional training, entrepreneurial development, and government policy.
After consulting people from across the construction sector and meeting with government organizations in charge of financing school building rehabilitation, it became clear that the root of the problem is the Mongolian building code. A state-financed building must comply with state building codes before it can be approved. Thus, adequately enforced building codes dictate the minimum standard design of a building. Raising the standards for both new construction and building renovations can improve building energy efficiency and sustainability. As next steps the JUCCCE team laid out tangible plans for other actors create a building energy efficiency public education campaign and stimulate a building code revolution.
We combined our access to world-leaders in energy efficient construction with the on-ground knowledge we gained in Mongolia to provide an actionable plan to address the heating problem.
OF HEATING IS WOOD-FUELED IN KHUVSGUL PROVINCE
SCHOOLS USE WOOD FOR HEATING
TONS OF WOOD BURNED FOR HEATING
To learn more about how we made a difference in Mongolia, read our Rural Heating report here.
Thank you to Jonathan Woetzel’s support, Oyungerel Tsedevdamba’s local leadership, Joel Slonetsky and Nora Sluzas for their dedication and sense of adventure, Van Yang’s videography, Hondo Design for design.