Beijing Winter Olympics 2022: The Greenest and Safest Olympics to Date

Beijing will now be known as the “Dual Olympic City” having held the 2008 Summer Olympics, it is also set to host the Winter Olympics 2022 starting today, the 4th of February. 

While the games will prove to be a cradle for unity and olympic spirit, Beijing is using the games in spearheading the introduction of many carbon neutral green technologies and emission reduction methods. At the same time, great emphasis has been laid on prevention and spread of Covid-19 by adopting a “closed loop” system within the Olympic venues. 

A Green and Sustainable Beijing Winter Olympics 2022

Reusing venues from Beijing 2008: Five competition venues from the competition venues 14 years ago will be reused in 2022. These locations have been renewed and modernized to meet the requirements for Winter sports.

The National Aquatics Center, which holds 5 swimming pools, known as the “Water Cube” during 2008 Summer games and now dubbed the “Ice Cube” for Winter Sports was made capable of switching between ice and water.

The Wukesong Sports Center which was used to hold basketball games, will now host ice hockey games. The arena is now capable of facilitating both ice hockey and basketball games and only takes 6 hours to switch between the two modes.
Once the games are over, these arenas will be used to hold local sports activities and other cultural events.

The Games are 100% Powered By Renewable Energy: All venues and facilities for the 2022 Winter Olympics are powered by the newly built Zhangbei flexible DC Power Grid. It is the first of its kind in the world, and will be a forerunner in delivering clean energy to users efficiently. It is seen as the “golden key” to facilitate mass adoption of renewable energy. The power is principally generated using solar, wind, and hydropower technology.

All fuel-efficient and clean energy vehicles will be used as passenger cars – 85% of all vehicles used in and around the Olympic venues will be clean energy vehicles.

High speed rail will be used to travel between cities, reducing emissions by a large margin.
Waste heat generated from the refrigeration processes will be used to generate indoor heating by efficient climate control within arenas. This heat will also be used to make hot water necessary for ice making and , of course, hot water for showers within the venues.

The Zhangbei Power Grid is capable of generating 14 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity per year. This is more than sufficient to power the 26 Olympic venues in Beijing and Zhangjiakou fully.

Superefficient, Low Carbon Ice Making and Refrigeration Systems: Four of Beijing 2022 venues will use Carbon Dioxide refrigerants in place of the conventional, and ozone depleting, HFC refrigerants. This helps mitigate the issue of carbon emissions around the city while achieving a refrigeration efficiency 1.2 times higher than HFC refrigerants. It can also consistently maintain a temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius or less on the ice surfaces, making it much easier to skate on. It will save almost 2 Million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year compared to traditional indoor refrigeration systems. 

Afforestation and Re-planting of Removed Trees: Organizers of the Winter Olympics in Beijing left no stone unturned when they decided to take “Green Olympics” to the next level by planting 47,333 hectares of green and forest areas in Beijing. A further 33,000 hectares of forest were planted in Zhangjiakou. Any trees that had to be removed due to some new constructions would be amply replaced through such rigorous afforestation. Taking a step even further, officials made a point to re-plant all trees that were cleared out for new venues. They have been carefully replanted in habitats similar to where they previously were, so that they could continue growing. 

Constructions Completed Using Minimum Resources: The National Speed Skating Oval named the “Ice Ribbon” was designed in such a way that it minimizes the use of construction material overall. The height of its roof rises with the area with a larger number of spectator seats and falls where there are less seats. This way the building takes up much less volume than if it were to have a roof with a consistent height. Because of this, resources used in the construction of the “Ice Ribbon” were greatly reduced. With masterful engineering to further reduce use of raw materials, the structure only used a quarter of the steel that would otherwise have been used if it were constructed using traditional methods.

Wool Bouquets Instead of Fresh Flowers: In an effort to reduce the large amount of land, water, and possible pesticide use that comes with growing, harvesting, and using fresh flowers on congratulatory bouquets, organizers decided to use handwoven flowers instead. They are permanent, do not create a large carbon footprint to produce, and help showcase the talents of skilled locals. The designs are by Li Meili, a retiree who has been in the wool-knitting profession for the past 20 odd years. The bouquets feature woolen lilies, roses, osmanthus and green olive branches. Each bouquet is handmade and takes 35 hours in total. With many knitting teams in place, all bouquets would have taken around 50,000 hours to complete. 

AI Systems Used to Assist in Monitoring Resource use: AI technology will be used to monitor the efficiency of water use, and use of other resources around Olympic venues. 

Utmost Safety With Strict Covid-19 Prevention at Beijing 2022

The Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 boasts many firsts in efficiency, zero-carbon ventures, introducing digital yuan payments, and even breakthroughs in anti-doping testing procedures. However, in addition, in concern with the Covid-19 pandemic the Olympic venues will be contained in a safe “closed loop system”.

  • All entering the Olympic venues – both athletes and journalists – must show proof of full vaccination. All arriving must also show two nucleic tests done in the 96 hours prior.
  • Everyone in the Olympics zone must wear a N-95 mask at all times.
  • All individuals must take a PCR test once a day, provided within the venues.
  • No-contact cafeterias, with transparent barriers between occupants. Food will be served by bots instead of personnel.
  • Shuttle buses and other transport vehicles will be at 50% occupancy only. Vehicles will have windows closed when commuting outside “the loop”.
  • All within Olympics premises must report their daily health conditions including body temperature through an app designated for this purpose.

The Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 is set to be a model for organizing large scale events while drastically cutting down on waste and carbon footprint. The introduction of the Zhangbei flexible DC Power Grid and other green innovations made for the games will inevitably continue to be used even once the games are over.