Vancouver: platinium, gold, green

The closing Ceremony of the Winter 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver has just ended. Here is the time for a little briefing on the “green-itude” of these Games.

The publicity surrounding the Vancouver Olympic Games has been insisting that they were the most sustainable Games in the history of Olympic Games. Is it true? Yes, it’s green.

The policy of the Vancouver Olympic Committee was a “carbon neutral” footprint. This has been achieved through many efforts.

The Olympic Village, that hosts 2’700 athletes has received the “platinium” (highest) certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental DEsign (LEED). It’s energy comes from emissions of methane gas from a former landfill, and its primary source of heating is generated by a municipal wastewater treatment system. Rain water is collected and houses are built in eco-friendly materials.

The Committee has organized for hydropowered means of transport for athletes and spectators. No spectator can park around the Olympic sites.

Private investors have invested to offset the emissions of the Games – those that could not be avoided (these include the travel of the athletes, coaches and officials).

In total these private investments cover 44% of the Games’ emission. This represents an overall $3 million invested in local green project technologies. Carbon offsetting means efforts invested in greener activities, to compensate for everything else that could not be made green.

Unfortunately it does not cover the 150’000 million tons emitted by the spectators travelling to Vancouver (1.5m) and the sponsors. However an additional carbon calculator is available online for the spectators to measure their emissions and later voluntarily offset their emissions (donate credits). Sponsors have voluntarily offsetted 75% of their emissions.

Many sites have their own power plants and generate exactly enough energy then they need. Their performance is monitored minute by minute and attendees can check it themselves. In average they avoid 16% more energy waste than traditional buildings.

The excess of heat in refrigerated buildings help heat others while in the Richmond Olympic Oval (for speed skating) rainwater is reused for irrigation and flushing.

Coca Cola, the official sponsor of the Games has created official uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles (120 for one outfit).

Finally, the Olympic medals are made from recycled computer parts (ie. chips). As for the Olympic Torch, it was 90% recyclable and emitting minimum amounts of carbon.

Overall the Olympic will have generated 268’000 tons of carbon and the 7 years run up and preparation alone have generated less carbon than the Salt Lake City and Turin Olympic Games.

Did the Vancouver Games ever slip off the green track? Yes, the highway joining the Olympic sites “Sea to Sky Highway” and the ski tracks in the mountain have resulted in the logging of many many trees. The David Suzuki Foundation, which judged of the overall environmental friendliness of the Games gave them a “decent Bronze medal”. Yet allwood waste was chipped and re-used on site for revegetation process. So … what say we?

Bravo Canada !

I guess the least sustainable element of the whole Olympics must be the amount of gel in Lysacek’s hair… but I guess if it’s necessary to look like that… then it’s okayyyyyyy

For more info, visit the very comprehensive Vancouver Olympics website, here.

Sources: LA TIMES, Green Diary

This entry was posted in Climate science, Lifestyle, recycling and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Vancouver: platinium, gold, green

  1. Clara says:

    I was sure that you couldn’t write a post on Vancouver without talking about figure skating… and especially Lysacek, ahah !

    Anyway, thank you Aggie for broadening our poor knowledge of environmental issues in an entertaining manner !

  2. Alison says:

    I ❤ The Coca Cola Company 😉

    Didn't know the Olympics were green this year!

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