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The future of building looks green in Kazakhstan


In Central Asia, a green revolution is quietly gaining momentum. Kazakhstan is spearheading a number of nation-wide initiatives to transfer the nation into an eco-friendly economy. The building industry is playing a major role in achieving Kazakhstan’s green ambitions.
Contextualising Kazakhstan’s green building initiatives
Kazakhstan is committed to becoming one of the top 30 of the world’s 50 developing nations by 2050. A “greening” of essential economic sectors is part and parcel of this economic drive. As an oil producing nation, moving from “brown” to green status will be a challenge – one that Kazakhstan is ready to face head on.
President Nazarbayev formally adopted Kazakhstan’s Green Economy Concept policy in 2013, following the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012. With full presidential backing, it appears the Central Asian state is firmly committed to “cleaning up” its economy.
By 2030, Kazakhstan aims to generate 30% of its domestic electricity supply from renewable sources, rising to 20% by 2050. Legislation establishing feed-in tariffs for renewables was introduced in 2013 and will remain in place for 50 years – providing the impetus for companies to invest in green technologies.
Green activity in the construction industry
So how does the building sector fit into Kazakhstan’s new green economy? The answer is via a launching a number of projects, updating procedures and a fostering a greater understanding of eco-minded techniques. 
Construction is one area of high energy consumption in Kazakhstan. Buildings, primarily residential developments, consume 13.5% of the nation’s power and account for 24% of heat demand.
Kazakhstan’s government announced in February 2014 that it intended to create its own green building standards. As a response, the Kazakhstan Green Building Council (KazBC) was formed around this time, which would work alongside the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to further its mission.
UNDP has had a presence in Kazakhstan since 2010. During this time, the organisation cooperated with the Committee for Construction, Housing and Utilities of the Regional Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The goal of this collaborative effort is to develop improved frameworks and practices related to the large-scale adoption of green building.
KazBC has laid out a 2030 goal to ensure all new buildings in Kazakhstan are built and operated to meet the requirements for green building standards. As of May 2016, discussions and research are still underway and a green-building standard has yet to be established.
Seemingly, the UNDP’s efforts have paid off. Kazakhstan has achieved some impressive regional-firsts in the eco-building sector. Park View Office, a 1,052 square metre office complex in the heart of historical Almaty, was the first Central Asian structure to become BREEAM certified. A “very good” rating was conferred by BREEAM to Park View in March 2015. 
Another business centre, the Q-2 building in Astana, has also been recognised by BREEAM with a “good” certificate awarded in 2015.
Confidence is high in KazBC’s activities. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) awarded KazBC the right to use FSC licensed materials in September 2014 in order to promote the idea of sustainable materials and ecological construction in Kazakhstan.
What's more, Samruk Kazyna Kazakh Sovereign Wealth Fund has been used to build the Green Quarter residential and office development in Astana. All buildings in the complex with be fitted with systems designed to reduce energy and water consumption by a fifth.
Green building in the coming years
Kazakhstan is host nation for the Expo 2017 conference, the theme of which is “future energy”. As such, spectators can expect to see an acceleration in the number of eco-projects commissioned in the country before and after the event.
Of particular note is the Mega SilkWay shopping centre currently under construction in Astana. International company Renaissance Construction is behind this project. Covering 15 hectares with a total floorspace of 140,000 sqm, the mall will be the first of its kind in Kazakhstan and built using sustainable materials and green techniques.
It is also likely that international investment in eco-friendly schemes and companies will increase. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), for example, is a big supporter of Kazakhstan’s green economy drive. 
Domestic materials suppliers Alina Holdings, producers of dry mixes, paints and other construction materials, was the recipient of a €10 million loan from the EBRD in December 2015. The purpose of this funding is to establish an energy and resource-saving programme at Alina Holding’s key production facilities – an initiative that is likely to be match by other organisations over the next few years. 
As the nation is planning on ensuring all buildings are build using eco-friendly techniques and materials, foreign companies will enjoy a number of opportunities in Kazakhstan. Namely, in the supply of sustainably sourced construction materials and the necessary expertise required to establish a truly green building industry. 


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