Paris, L.A. work to build 'green' Olympics
Following the recommendations contained in Agenda 2020 by the International Olympic Committee, and its request that candidate cities present projects closely adhering to their long-term social, financial and environmental planning needs, “greenness” will be vital to any winning Olympic bid.
What new measures, techniques and approaches can be expected from the 2024 cycle onward?
The history of the Olympics is littered with what could be considered failures, reports Construction Global. Ghost-town Olympic villages, redundant stadiums and lack of concrete evidence of genuine sustainability from previous games highlight some issues endured by previous hosts. It’s hardly surprising then that Boston, Budapest, Rome and Hamburg all pulled their bids for the 2024 games mid-race, fearing high costs and local opposition.
So what will Paris and Los Angeles do differently?
The Paris masterplan
“Our vision is the most sustainable games ever,” Paris bid co-Chair and member of the IOC’s Sustainability and Legacy Commission, Tony Estanguet, told the South China Morning Post. “We will also have low carbon installations for the rare venues we have to build and we will use specific materials to reduce the overall carbon footprint.”
These claims are backed by the Paris committee’s aims in their project program including:
- 100 percent bio-based materials
- 100 percent green energy during the Games
- More than 26 hectares of biodiversity created on the Olympic sites in Seine-Saint-Denis
Architects, Populous, and engineers, Egis, devised the masterplan for the Paris 2024 bid, consisting of 38 Olympic and Paralympic venues across Paris. Their masterplan proposed the use of a number of existing buildings in the city, as well as temporary venues to be installed in some of the capital’s most famous attractions. The Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées, as well as the River Seine, were used as backdrops for these proposed venues.
Central to the winning Paris bid is the idea of using existing infrastructure, more specifically, venues and temporary structures. The only new major construction will be an aquatics center.
These ambitions are echoed by the L.A. 2028 committee’s proposals.
L.A. 2028 has delivered a comprehensive sustainability program built on the concept of “radical reuse.” The idea focuses on the use of L.A.’s existing venues, rather than creating new permanent structures. Executive Director of Sustainability and Legacy, Brence Culp, told Global Construction: “Every facility of our Games Plan, from sports venues, to the Olympic Village at UCLA, to the Media Village and other media facilities at the University of Southern California (USC), already exists, will exist independently of the games or will be temporary.”
Some of the LA venues have already stepped up their green credentials. In May, the L.A. Memorial Coliseum (the proposed track and field venue) was officially classed as a zero waste sports venue. Industry standards define zero waste as recycling, composting or repurposing at least 90 percent of waste materials.
The 93-year-old, 90,000-seat stadium will also undergo a $270 million privately-funded upgrade in time for the 2019 college football season.
L.A. 2028 is now working with USC, the Memorial Coliseum operator, to incorporate innovative, impactful green strategies including implementing measures, such as 150 eco-station recycling sites at the Coliseum and on-site waste compactors.
More than just a spectacle
Unpredictable cost outlays and expensive construction overruns have caused many host cities major headaches in recent years. One of the most problematic areas is that of building specialized sports facilities in a venue large enough to host an event of this magnitude. Sydney, Athens and Beijing all inherited hefty operational maintenance bills for a series of fixed venues that are now barely used.
The Paris and L.A. approaches are hoping to address these issues. What remains is to see whether or not Paris and L.A. have found a genuinely viable solution to the sustainability issues experienced by previous host cities, as well as leading the way for future winning bids.