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2012 games venues to shun HFCs

The Olympic Delivery Authority plans not to use HFCs to cool its buildings for the 2012 Olympics, the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 has said.

Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 chairman Shaun McCarthy said today that he understood there was now a “policy presumption against HFCs” and that so-called natural refrigerants would be used to cool the Olympic stadium and the Aquatic centre sites.

The Commission is the body tasked with independently assessing the sustainability performance of the London Olympics.

It had been thought that HFCs would be used to cool the venues, but the ODA has changed tack in the face of criticism from the Commission among others.

HFCs have been criticised in some quarters for their possible contribution to global warming.

While the policy decision is said to have been made, details of an alternative have not yet been thrashed out.

The Olympic site’s energy centre, which provides power, heat and cooling, is set to use ammonia for cooling, but both the stadium and Aquatic Centre are too far from the energy centre to benefit.

Ammonia is explosive and toxic, so any use of this gas for the stadium or Aquatic Centre would have to be carefully managed. The ODA are said to be relaxed about the difficulties of changing the venues’ plans.

If the ODA did opt to use HFCs after all, they would have to make a justification for it, Mr McCarthy added.

Mr McCarthy was speaking at a breakfast organised by the Construction Industry Environmental Forum, part of CIRIA, the Construction Industry Research and Information Association.

An ODA spokesperson said: “We are still reviewing cooling systems for Olympic Park venues. There are a number of technical challenges that need to be considered before a final decision is made.”