Zolzaya Surenjav holds her daughter, Erdenechimeg, in front of their newly retrofitted home, now better equipped for winters in the coldest capital in the world, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Some 60 percent of the population here lives in gers, traditional tents, burning coal to stay warm.

The retrofit—the work of BYU Capstone engineering students sponsored by Deseret International Charities (DIC)—makes warming gers cleaner and more efficient.

The BYU engineers swapped coal for a ceramic electric heater, eliminating dangerous particle emissions inside the home. The engineering coup: see the silver lining around the entrance? It’s a “radiant barrier” designed to reflect heat back into the ger, making the home five times more energy efficient. And the electricity used will cost less than coal.

BYU students impressed the Mongolian prime minister with their designs. This fall 150 gers will be retrofitted. DIC hopes to raise funding for thousands more.

A Mongolian woman holds her daughter outside of their retrofitted ger, or traditional home.
Photo by Nathaniel Edwards

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