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Beijing Olympic Village Certified Green; Vancouver Seeks Twin Golds for 2010

In Beijing China, 17,000 athletes from around the world are staying at a LEED Gold Olympic Village, their temporary home for the 2008 Olympic Games. The U.S. Green Building Council announced this week that the Village has been awarded LEED Gold certification under a pilot LEED for Neighborhood Development certification program.

United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson presented the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold award to the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee at a function last week.

The USGBC said the Beijing Olympic Village is the first Olympic Village to receive LEED certification; as part of a USGBC pilot program, it is one of only eight developments and the first international project to achieve certification under LEED for Neighborhood Development.

Olympic Village LEED Gold green building photo on EnergyPriorities.com used with permission

The LEED Gold Olympic Village in Beijing sports several technologies to generate and conserve energy. The Village is one of the first projects to be certified under the LEED for Neighborhood Development system. (Conserval photo)

In Canada, host country of the 2010 Winter Games, Olympic organizers tell us that the Vancouver and Whistler Olympic Villages both are participating in the pilot project.

Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO, and Founding Chair of USGBC, said of the Beijing certification: "China’s growing population, its emerging economy and the opportunities and challenges it represents ensure that China will play a key role in the future of our planet. The fact that one of the world’s first LEED for Neighborhood Development-certified plans is a cause for great optimism that China’s growth in the coming years can be a model of sustainable development."

SolarWall of China

Beijing Olympic Village LEED Gold green building photo on EnergyPriorities.com used with permission

Beijing Olympic Village building close-up. Rooftop wind turbines are visible at the top of this photo. The gray area around the top of the building is a SolarWall installation -- plenums that channel sun-heated air into the HVAC system. The rooftop solar modules also are SolarWall units that generate electricity and heated air. (Conserval photo)

The Olympic Village's 42 energy-efficient buildings generate some of their power and comfort through renewable sources such as wind, photovoltaics, solar thermal, and geothermal heat pumps.

Ontario-based Conserval Engineering told us one of the energy technologies in the Village is its SolarWall, a solar thermal device that preheats ventilation air by drawing it through holes in a plenum mounted on an exterior wall. The solar-heated air is ducted into the building's conventional HVAC systems.

Heat does not seem to be in short supply in Beijing in August, but power is at a premium. The Village also features a SolarWall unit combined with PV panels to produce both preheated air and solar electricity at the same time. Drawing the heated air off the solar modules makes them more efficient, Conserval says. The company says their products can earn a project as many as five LEED points in the energy category.

LEED-ND pilot

The USGBC has been working for several years on the new green rating and certification system for neighborhoods, and LEED for Neighborhood Development -- also referred to as LEED-ND -- is expected to be finalized in 2009. The new rating system is a collaboration among the USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It integrates urban-planning and growth-management perspectives, rather than certifying each home separately.

The pilot program began last year; about 240 projects from six countries are registered to participate. For now, the Olympic Village is technically categorized as a LEED for New Construction (NC) project, but its multi-unit residential housing and campus design qualify it as a "neighborhood" for purposes of the ND rating.

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology developed a "Protocol for Cooperation in Clean Energy Technologies for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing." The protocol resulted in plans to seek LEED certification for the Beijing Olympic Village.

The Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee states that 9 of its 10 new facilities for the 2010 Winter Olympics will be candidates for LEED certification. (The tenth building will comply with the green-building standards for its university campus site.)

The USGBC says that some municipalities are reducing fees or waiting periods associated with the approval process for community projects that can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, such as LEED certification.

Thanks to USGBC, NREL and VANOC for providing information for this article. Additional information came from the China Daily.