Friday, January 21, 2011

Sustainable Changes in the Olympic Games -- A guest post

Looking Forward to Sustainable Changes in Olympic Games

The United States Olympic Committee USOC is not only looking to further the athletic accomplishments but make sustainable environmental changes to the Winter Games. And with the bid for the 2022 games being award in 2015, they must move fast with their efforts. This began with naming Andrew Liveris and Dow Chemical the worldwide partner in the Olympics for the next decade.

During the last Winter Olympic Games (the Vancouver 2010 games), the United States held the most medals, with 9 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze. With dominance in the areas of snowboarding, Nordic combined and skiing, it only makes since that the United States is looking to capture the 2022 bid. With areas like Denver and Reno-Tahoe looking to host, the USOC is looking to make process with the International Olympic Committee in hopes of bring great changes to this world celebration.

Why are these changes such a big deal? As fantastic and unifying as the Olympics are, it's quite a carbon-rich event. It has been estimated that over 2/3 of the carbon emissions from the event is a result of some of the 1.5+ million attendees traveling (mostly via airplane) to and from the event.
The IOC made great efforts to showcase conservation practice and sustainable energy sources during the Beijing Summer Games, but for the future CEO Andrew Liveris and USOC members are looking to do more by basing off of the services used in Beijing. Exactly what environmentally friendly services did the Olympic facilities feature?

· Solar power - Used to light lawns, courtyards and streets at several venues, including the Olympic Village. A 130 KW photovoltaic system illuminated The National Stadium, where events such as athletics and football were held.
· Water Conservation - Waste water collected from the Qinghe sewage treatment plant was filtered and used for the various heating and cooling needs throughout the Olympics site, yielding a 60% savings in electricity. Rainwater was collected from around the grounds, collecting over 75,000 gallons by using water permeable bricks, pipes and wells installed on roofs, roads and green areas.

· Natural Light - Remember the famous 'Water Cube' where the aquatic events were held? The walls of the National Aquatics Centre provided natural light, and for the interior of the building, specially designed 'beam-pipes' funneled sunlight into corridors, toilets and car parks at venues, including the Olympic Green.

· Recycling - The 2008 Olympic hosts aimed for a 50 per cent recycling of waste including paper, metals and plastics at venues. A modest expectation, considering that a test run carried out during the 11th World Softball Championships held in 2007, achieved a nearly 90 per cent recycling rate.

Since the 2008 Olympics the vision of environmental progress has progress to include dozens of other products which will help reduce waste and promote conservation. You can expect these products to appear at the coming events over the next decade and be a part of the USOC recommendations.

Co-written by Nerissa Barry and Daniel Fielding

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