Organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics are hoping to keep world athletes cool during the summer without relying on air conditioners. Their goal is to use an underground water cooling system beneath the Athletes Village instead.
The village that will house thousands of Olympic and Paralympic athletes will use the same technology that kept the iconic Louvre museum cool during last summer’s heat waves, Euro News reports. The goal is to ensure that indoor temperatures stay between 73 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit (23 and 26 degrees Celsius).
Cooling the museum was possible thanks to a system made up of 55 miles (89 kilometers) of pipes that move cold water around. Last year, Paris officials announced that they planned to triple the size of the network to help the city better adapt to climate change, the Associated Press reported. It wasn’t clear at the time whether some extensions could happen before the upcoming Olympic games. The Athletes Village is by the Seine River, making water accessible for the cooling system.
According to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, this method will lower carbon impact for the Olympic Athletes Village by about 45%, the Associated Press reported. “I want the Paris Games to be exemplary from an environmental point of view,” she said.
To better support the project, Paris Olympics organizers have studied the Athletes Village block by block. They’ve simulated heating conditions to test cooling and especially focused on south-facing rooms in the higher floors that receive more sunlight. “Despite outdoor temperatures reaching 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), we had temperatures at 28 degrees (82 degrees Fahrenheit) in most of these rooms,” Laurent Michaud, director of the Olympic and Paralympic Villages, told the Associated Press. Organizers have also focused on ensuring that the insulation in the buildings will allow the cool air to stay trapped inside.
There’s a good reason for organizers to focus on sustainable cooling systems: Summer temperatures have skyrocketed across Europe in recent years, and France hasn’t been spared. Last July saw scarily high temperatures. In the middle of that month, temperatures ballooned to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) and some parts of the country reached over 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). The elevated temperatures sparked wildfires in multiple European countries, including France.
Heat has messed with other recent Olympic Games. The 2020 “cursed” Tokyo Olympics, besides being delayed by covid-19, were marked by dangerously high temperatures. Even the winter events are affected. Organizers of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics had to use fake snow for outdoor sports, troubling athletes and climate scientists alike.