Designing a Greener Games: Incorporating Sustainability into Pre and Post Olympic Site Development

Madeline Paulk

Paulk Olympics

While there are numerous key factors that influence the sustainability of Olympic Game site design, this project will focus specifically on the environmental and economic benefits of including adaptive reuse in Olympic planning. From choosing a site in the early design phase to designing buildings to have flexible functions post-Olympics, adaptive reuse is critical in decreasing the environmental footprint by minimizing new construction, utilizing existing resources to reduce economic costs, and improving transportation to reduce carbon emissions. My research will begin with the analysis of scholarly articles, academic journals, and sustainability reports from previous host cities in order to better understand how these cities have utilized existing buildings in addition to new buildings and infrastructure that not only serve the Olympics, but continue to aid the city post-Games.

I will focus on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, declared by the International Olympic Committee to be the “greenest Games” yet, which utilized existing ski slopes and introduced an improved rail system that continues to decrease greenhouse gas emissions due to car dependency by approximately 14 killetons per year. In contrast, I will also research the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, which removed several thousand trees to create land for slopes and has already demolished its 109 million dollar Olympic Stadium in order to avoid maintenance fees. I plan to develop case studies for these two Winter Olympic host cities in order to understand how adaptive reuse, or the lack thereof, affected these cities environmentally and economically.

I will ultimately use this knowledge to produce a set of design guidelines, including visual aids, for the utilization of adaptive reuse specifically in the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Although each city faces unique environmental, economic, and cultural challenges, I still believe there are lessons to be learnt from each city’s efforts to incorporate sustainable design in the planning of the Olympic Village. Beijing is among the 10 most populated cities in the world, located within the number one country for greenhouse gas emissions, so these particular Games are critical in representing the future of a greener Olympic Games.