Going green with the Olympics at the new Olympic House

Sarah Merricks

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a leader in sustainability in the international sporting industry. More and more, companies, organizations and teams across the sports industry are turning to sustainability and green building as a valuable way to cut operating costs, improve facility and building performance, reduce carbon and waste footprints, and educate fans on the importance of sustainability. We’re witnessing sports and sustainability – two incredible fields that both place a tremendous priority on human health and wellbeing – coming together to plan for a more prosperous future. And the IOC serves as an international model of what’s possible.

Sustainability is one of the three key pillars of the Olympic Agenda 2020, and the IOC has developed a Sustainability Strategy that focuses on infrastructure and natural sites, sourcing and resource management, mobility, workforce and climate. The IOC’s Sustainability Report tracks the progress they’ve made so far in achieving their 18 sustainability objectives for 2020. And historically, the Olympic Movement has committed to green building, certifying several IOC facilities to LEED, including the Olympic House Madrid, the Beijing and Vancouver Olympic Villages, and the U.S. Olympic Committee Headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO.

The Olympic House

This commitment to sustainability is on full display at the recently certified Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland. The International Headquarters for the IOC is the first building in the world to receive LEED v4 Platinum certification, Swiss Sustainable Construction Standard (SNBS) at the Platinum level, and Minergie P. (the Swiss standard for energy-efficient buildings). It was also the first building in Switzerland to achieve LEED v4 Platinum and, at the time of certification, had received the most points (93) of any LEED v4 BD+C project to date.

The IOC is turning its sustainability commitments into action at the Olympic House, and the building is intended to serve as an inspiration for the entire Olympic Movement and a lasting symbol of its sustainability strategy. Designed by SAP Garden architect 3XN, the building employs a number of sustainability strategies including solar panels and heat pumps that use water from nearby Lake Geneva to provide renewable energy to the building, and the building is expected to use 35 percent less energy and 60 percent less municipal water than a conventional building. 

A focus on employee health and wellbeing is also woven throughout the building. One of the most important ways that green buildings contribute to health and wellness is through improving indoor environmental air quality. High-quality indoor environments help protect the health and comfort of building occupants, enhance employee productivity and decrease absenteeism. The LEED rating system recognizes the importance of air quality and has several credits that lead to LEED certification dedicated to it, including environmental tobacco smoke control, minimum indoor air quality performance and an indoor air quality assessment. Strategies that LEED promotes include using low-emitting materials with no VOCs, establishing minimum standards for indoor air quality as per ASHRAE 62.1-2010, naturally ventilating spaces, monitoring outdoor air intake flow and prohibiting smoking inside a building. The IOC utilized a number of these, including maximizing natural light, using sustainable and healthy materials, employing an ergonomic design and considering air quality and acoustics, to achieve certification.

The Olympic House will be officially inaugurated on June 23, 2019, and USGBC and GBCI president and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam will be on site to participate in the occasion.

The LEED Platinum-certified Olympic House from USGBC

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