Bottoms up!

Shaun McCarthy

August 21, 2008   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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Beijing Day 1 061 - for web

When I travelled all the way to China to learn about sustainability at an Olympic Games I did not expect to be writing about bottoms.

There is a good environmental story to be told here, the Olympic Park and athletes’ village are zero emission zones with extensive use of electric and hydrogen powered vehicles. There are solar panels everywhere for both electricity and heating and the team here have created an 80 hectare conservation area to the north of the park which will be enjoyed by the public for generations to come.

However, the most innovative approach is to be found in the “Water Cube” aquatic centre. It is made from an innovative plastic construction which gives it a unique appearance as well as optimum energy conservation but the real innovation is in the seats. There is a system to transmit body heat from the seats to help heat the pool, taking heat from the backsides of spectators to warm up the athletes. Paradoxically, in the top VIP seats in the Bird’s Nest stadium there is a little individual air conditioning unit under each seat.

There is an interesting social paradigm in extracting heat from the masses in order to save enough energy to blow cold air up the backsides of the privileged few. I don’t think Chairman Mao would have approved!

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