USGBC Gives Beijing Olympic Village Gold for Going Green

The Olympic Village in Beijing, China, where the 2008 Summer Olympic Games are taking place this month, has been awarded LEED-Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The village, which is the temporary home for more than 17,000 athletes from around the world, is the first international project to receive LEED certification thus far as part of USGBC's pilot "LEED for Neighborhood Development" certification program.

Developed in early 2007, LEED for Neighborhood Development was created in order to establish a rating system with which to recognize environmentally friendly urban and community developments. The Beijing Olympic Village is one of nearly 240 projects from 39 states and six countries that are currently registered for participation in the pilot program; only eight of those, including the Beijing Olympic Village, have received LEED certification thus far.

"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," Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, said in a statement. "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."

The Beijing Olympic Village earned its LEED-Gold certification—LEED's second-highest certification—for performance in four key areas:

• Smart Location & Linkage
• Neighborhood Pattern & Design
• Green Construction & Technology
• Innovation & Design Process

Because of its size and economy, China—which recently developed its own China Green Building Council in collaboration with USGBC—is considered by many to be a major player in the future of environmentalism.

"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 continued. "The fact that one of the world's first LEED for Neighborhood Development-certified plans [is in China] is a cause for great optimism that China's growth in the coming years can be a model of sustainable development."