Photo courtesy of the Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games:

Going for the Gold and going green at the same time, athletes participating in the 2008 Olympic Games stayed at a first-of-its-kind, environmentally friendly Olympic Village. The plan for the village, which housed 17,000 athletes from around the world, has been awarded LEED®Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) under its pilot LEED for Neighborhood Development certification program.

The Beijing Olympic Village is the first Olympic Village to receive LEED certification. As part of the pilot program, it is one of only eight developments - and the first international project - to thus far achieve certification under LEED for Neighborhood Development. The pilot program began with a call for pilot projects in early 2007. Nearly 240 projects from 39 states and six countries are now registered to participate in the pilot program. The information learned during the pilot program will be used to make further revisions to the rating system and certification process, and the resulting draft rating system will be posted for public comment before final approvals and balloting.

“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,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, CEO, and founding chair. “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 program, 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.”

LEED for Neighborhood Development integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green building into a comprehensive system for neighborhood design. The result of a collaboration among USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council, LEED for Neighborhood Development certifies neighborhoods for their design and performance in four categories: Smart Location and Linkage; Neighborhood Pattern and Design; Green Construction and Technology; and Innovation and Design Process. The Green Construction and Technology category awards developments for their integration of green infrastructure elements and the green building principles promoted by the other LEED certification programs. Depending on the number of points a development receives in each category, LEED for Neighborhood Development certification is awarded at four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

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.” The protocol resulted in plans to seek LEED certification for the Olympic Village.

The USGBC has recently supported the formation of the new China Green Building Council and anticipates working with the China GBC as it grows and continues to promote sustainable, healthy building practices in a country that builds nearly half the world’s new buildings every year.

“China’s growing population, its emerging economy and the opportunities and challenges it represents ensure that China will play a key role in the future of our planet,” Fedrizzi said. “The fact that one of the world’s first LEED for Neighborhood Development-certified plans is a cause for great optimism that China’s growth in the coming years can be a model of sustainable development.”

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