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Gold for Beijing's green plans

Heat pumps and solar panels have helped the Olympic Village in Beijing secure Gold LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council.

The temporary home for 17,000 athletes was assessed through the pilot LEED Neighbourhood Development Certification programme which recognises a number of factors including design, location, green construction, technology, and innovation.

According to Olympics village contractor Guoao Investment Company the site uses a number of technologies to radically reduce energy and raise efficiency including a heat exchange system to generate energy using the sun and recycled water.

A Games spokesman said: “The system taps energy from Qinghe sewage treatment plant and upgrades it through heat pump devices for winter heating and summer cooling purposes. The technology can save energy by over 40 per cent compared with ordinary air-conditioning systems.

“Due to cooling devices set up outside the Village, there will be no noise or smoke emissions inside. Even during the summer, the thermal conductance effect, evident in most large building clusters, can be totally eliminated, a sign of the international level of the renewable energy that can be attained from urban sewage treatment.”

The spokesman added that solar panels were being extensively used: “In the Village, solar energy collecting tubes have been installed on rooftop gardens with an area of 6,000 square meters.

The system can meet bath water demands of 16,000 users during the Games and some 2, 000 households after the Games. The project can save electricity by 5 million kilowatt hours a year.”

More than 20 highly advanced technologies have been used to reduce energy consumption.including solar heating, solar hot water, solar thermoelectric cogeneration and intelligent control.

Designers claim the measures mean the buildings consume a thirtieth of the energy of conventional buildings.

Rick Fedrizzi, President, Chief Executive and Founding Chair of USGBC, said:  “The world’s most pressing issues – including climate change, habitat destruction, water and energy shortages, human health, and social inequities – require global cooperation to solve.

“The Olympic Games represent the exciting possibilities that emerge when the world comes together. The commitment of the Olympic Village, demonstrated through its success in the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot programme, is an important part of that effort.

“It sets an inspiring example while the world is watching, and the real, measurable environmental and health effects will be a real benefit to the people of Beijing for years to come.

“The fact that one of the world’s first LEED for Neighbourhood Development-certified plans is a cause for great optimism that China’s growth in the coming years can be a model of sustainable development.”