Greener Road to the Olympics

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Courtesy of the Sailing Committee (Qingdao) of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games
The Olympic Village buildings, which house all the athletes, are 50 percent more energy efficient than most buildings in Beijing.

Beijing was already on its way to becoming more environmentally friendly before the 2008 Olympic games (“Green Olympics” is even a slogan of this year’s games). But with athletes from almost every country in the world visiting the city, home to about 16 million people, Beijing decided to green up to get ready.

For the 2008 games, $118 million in preparations were completed, such as removing more than 60,000 taxis from the streets and planting 20 million trees last year.

This year’s Olympic Village (which houses 16,000 participating athletes, trainers and officials) was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold from the U.S. Green Building Council. The village’s 42 six- and nine-story residential buildings are 50 percent more energy efficient than most buildings in Beijing. They use solar panels for energy and recycle wastewater for heating and cooling.

More than 200 factories were also relocated from Beijing to attempt to clean up the air and make the city more visible. Beijing has been attempting to meet the World Health Organization guidelines on air pollution while the athletes and spectators are in the city for the games. China has some of the worst pollution in the world (which kills 400,000 Chinese annually), and has caused some athletes to opt to arrive as late as possible to avoid exposure to the polluted air.

The $12.2 billion Beijing Sustainable Development plan has been in progress since 1998 and includes anti-pollution standards, coal to gas conversion for businesses, and tree planting across the city.

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