Beijing Olympic Villages Earns LEED Gold Certification in Pilot Program

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorBeijing, China–The Olympic Village in Beijing has earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council under the Neighborhood Development program. It is the first Olympic Village to receive LEED certification.A project of Guo Ao Development Company, the Olympic Village is one of only eight communities–and the first international one–to earn certification under this pilot program. The LEED for Neighborhood Development program incorporates principles of smart growth, New Urbanism and green building, and certifies neighborhoods based on their design and performance in the categories of smart location and linkage, neighborhood pattern and design, green construction and technology, and innovation and design process. In order to earn LEED Gold, projects must achieve at least 60 of a possible 106 points.The Village, which is comprised of 42 six- and nine-story buildings, is currently home to 17,000 athletes, but will be converted into a 1,700-unit high-rise apartment building after the Olympics. In addition to the residential component, the Village includes seven community centers, three commercial and retail buildings, a health center, library, gyms, swimming pools and tennis courts, all on a 160-acre site.In 2004, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 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.” This resulted in plans to seek LEED Gold certification.DOE provided technical design assistance for the project, which uses solar photovoltaic power to generate lighting and and solar thermal power to heat hot water. Additionally, the development’s Micro-Energy Olympic Village Welcome Center generates most of its electricity from renewable sources, with the net generation of energy nearly totaling its energy consumption. The Village also includes highly efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as energy-efficient insulation and windows, reducing the development’s energy consumption by about 20 percent, compared to U.S. industry standards. The individual buildings within the development are approximately 50 percent more energy-efficient than comparable buildings in Beijing.Native plants make up 90 percent of the Olympic Village’s landscaping, and irrigation systems use collected rainwater. In addition, the Village features extensive pedestrian and bicycle trails–located within a quarter mile of all buildings–that connect the community.