Paris 2024 prepares an Olympic Village without air conditioning

The Paris Games will use an underground cooling system to keep athletes cool during a 2024 Olympic event without air conditioning.

From underground in the Olympic Village, organizers intend to install a system used by the Louvre Museum to mitigate last year’s record-breaking sweltering heat — and to control temperatures for the Olympians and Paralympians who will be staying there.

The plan is part of the organizing committee’s goal to halve carbon dioxide emissions in Paris and stage the most sustainable Olympic Games in history by installing special technology that harnesses natural resources to keep everyone cool during a possible heat wave.

“I want the Paris Games to be an example from an environmental point of view,” said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, determined to combat climate change with an ambitious plan to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the City of Lights achieves carbon neutrality by 2050.

Compared to a conventional project, the carbon footprint will be reduced to 45% in the Olympic Village during the construction phase and the entire Olympic cycle, Hidalgo said.

Over the course of two months between July and September 2024, the Village will house 15,600 athletes and other members of the Olympic family during the Games and 9,000 athletes and companions during the Paralympics.

After the Games, the 125-acre (50-hectare) complex on the banks of the River Seine in the popular Seine-Saint-Denis district will be transformed into an environmentally friendly, emissions-neutral zone for residential and commercial purposes, housing 6,000 new inhabitants. The first will move from 2025.

Given the expectation of intense heat, the organizers have been studying heat waves in the Olympic Village. They have simulated the conditions in the parts of the complex that would be most exposed to the sun and tested the effectiveness of the refrigeration system in keeping the interior temperature between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius (73 and 79 Fahrenheit).

The geothermal power system will ensure that the temperature in the athletes’ apartments in the suburb will not exceed 26 Celsius (79 Fahrenheit) at night, even during a potential heat wave, said Laurent Michaud, the director of the Village.

Michaud mentioned that the organizers have carried out tests in the rooms located on the highest floors of the residences and which face the south, being more exposed to direct sun on two sides. They also took into account the direction of the winds in the region and the temperature of the water in the Seine. They work closely with France’s national meteorology agency to provide weather forecasts.

“Even though outside temperatures reached 106 Fahrenheit (41 Celsius), we had temperatures of 82 Fahrenheit (28 Celsius) in most of these rooms,” Michaud told The Associated Press, detailing the results of a wave simulation. of heat. “In other rooms, of course we register lower temperatures.”

In addition to the underground system, insulating the buildings will allow residents to keep the cold picked up overnight throughout the day, Michaud said. To keep the cold inside, athletes will have to abide by some basic rules, he added, such as making sure to keep the blinds down during the day.

Laurent Monnet, in charge of the ecological transition at the town hall of Saint-Denis, the northern Paris suburb where the Olympic Village will be, said that all rooms will be 6 degrees Celsius (11 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than the outside temperature, without an air conditioner.

Although some of the athletes who aspire to compete in Paris have expressed misgivings about the lack of air conditioning, Monnet affirmed that the participants will have to adapt and contribute to the fight against climate change.

“We need athletes to set an example when they use the buildings,” Monnet said. “We can build the most virtuous villa we want, but the use of it is what will mark our carbon footprint.”

Eliud Kipchoge, a two-time Olympic champion and world record holder in the marathon, supported Paris’s sustainability plan. The Kenyan is one of the strongest voices in sport for environmental justice and has drawn attention to climate change and the impact of global warming.

“It’s a good idea, because we all need to reduce our carbon,” Kipchoge said in an interview with the AP.

He asked his fellow athletes to combat climate change by reducing emissions during competition, training and in their daily lives because “we will all face the same scenario.”

Paris organizers have been in contact with national Olympic committees and said they will have the option of installing their own air conditioners in specific cases and on the condition that the devices meet the organizing committee’s technical criteria.

Most national Olympic committees have responded to the Paris plans with reservations. Some don’t rule out bringing their own air conditioners to France — or paying for one on the spot — depending on the weather at the time.

The Australian Olympic Committee reported that it is monitoring weather patterns in Paris over the next year to ensure “optimal performance for our athletes, including taking measures to mitigate heat and humidity.”

Michaud, the director of the Villa, said that the organizers want to pamper the environment but without endangering the health of the athletes. Some athletes, especially in Paralympics, have difficulty regulating body temperature and if they spend the night in rooms where it is impossible to maintain 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) at night, delegations may install portable air conditioning systems.

“It will be on a case-by-case basis and the health and well-being of the athletes,” Michaud said, adding that fans with water mist could be used instead of traditional air conditioners.

Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, is adamantly opposed to participants bringing their own air conditioners to the Games — with exceptions for health reasons.

“I can guarantee you that we are not going to change course and that the construction plan in the Villa regarding air conditioning will not be changed,” Hidalgo said.

As for the option of organizers providing delegations with an additional mechanism to get fresh air, he stated: “I am against it. We have to be consistent with our goals.”

___ AP sportswriters Jimmy Golen in Boston and Dennis Passa in Brisbane contributed to this report.

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