Innovative Construction Methods Planned for Low-Carbon 2024 Olympics

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Details about the summer 2024 Olympics in Paris are being reported, and they include plans for a climate-positive event. The Paris 2024 Board of Directors has approved a strategy to achieve a lower carbon footprint, and innovative construction methods will play a part in that.

The Olympic Village sits on both sides of the Seine River and is about 126 acres (51 hectares) in size. During the Olympic and Paralympic games, about 15,000 competitors are expected to occupy the Village, which will have 31 buildings. Another 45,000 volunteers are expected to be involved, as well as 20,000 journalists. After the Olympics activities are over, the Village will be transitioned by 2025 to a new neighborhood with offices and apartments for 6,000 people, as well as leisure, commercial and educational facilities.


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Techniques

In a video recently released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), some of the low-carbon construction details include using:

  • 94% recycled materials.
  • A special construction process that emits half the carbon of typical processes.
  • New architectural techniques.

Those state-of-the-art, low-carbon construction techniques and technologies will include wooden buildings, flexible structures, internal-external air quality, and low-carbon emissions concrete.

Cement producer Ecocem will provide its new ultra-low carbon cement for the project. The company has said this alternative to traditional cement, which is one ingredient in concrete used for construction, will significantly reduce the carbon footprint.

As reported by ArchiExpo, the aquatics center will be constructed using bio-based building materials only, with a timber structure and roof frame; it will be covered with solar panels and also serve as a solar farm.

Rendering of Paris Olympic Village; image: Paris 2024 Luxigon Dominique Perrault Architecte

To reduce emissions, travel to and from the Village is designed to connect to Paris’ public transportation system. As reported by Paris2024.org, 80% of competition venues will be within about six miles (ten kilometers) of the Village, with 85% of athletes accommodated less than a half hour from their competition venue. 

Commitment

In March 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made a formal commitment to have all Olympic Games be climate-positive by 2030. Organizing committees need to commit to creating carbon savings. The requirements are to minimize and compensate direct and indirect carbon emissions, as well as implementing lasting zero-carbon solutions for the Olympic Games and beyond.

The Tokyo organizing committee set a standard for sustainability in construction and other activities supporting the 2020 Olympic Games:

  • Athletes slept on beds made from recycled cardboard.
  • Podiums were made from recycled plastic.
  • Medals contained precious metals from discarded electrical devices.
  • 62% of waste generated was recycled.
  • Hydrogen was used for the Olympic torch.

The goal for the Paris event is to reduce carbon emissions by 50% per square meter in the development. The Olympic Village has been characterized as a unique test site for sustainable technologies, and there are hopes it can be a model for sustainable projects elsewhere.   Referring to the 2030 goal, the CEO of developer Solideo explained in the WEF video that this is a step in that direction. The hope is that success with carbon-saving measures in the large Olympic Village will prove they can be done everywhere.