Greening Up Future Olympics

Individuals have already begun speculating about which country will win the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Many say that the United States is seriously pushing to win the bid. If they do indeed win this bid, not only is the United States Olympic Committee looking to further athletic achievements, but to make substantial environmental changes to the event.  The IOC has shown serious intent with naming Andrew Liveris and DOW Chemical the worldwide partner in the Olympics for the next decade.

If the United States wins the bid, there is much talk of athletic victories (during the last winter Olympics, Vancouver 2010 games, the United States won the most metals, nine gold, fifteen silver, and thirteen bronze) but the major changes will be the environmental ones.

As fantastic and unifying as the Olympics are, it’s quite a carbon-rich event. So while these changes may only seem minor, they’re actually a huge deal. 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.

USOC members and IOC President Jacques Rogge are looking to do more by following the lead of the 2008 Summer Games that were held in Beijing. The 2008 summer Olympics made great efforts to showcase conservation practices and sustainable energy sources. 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.

While the Olympics in 2008 had great new ways of filtration and insulation for the events. That vision has progressed 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.

Andrew Liveris discusses environmental protection with college students


One Response to “Greening Up Future Olympics”
  1. I had had the honor of competing in 3 Olympic Games, I can tell you first hand that the Olympic Games does a fantastic job of being sustainable. I remember specifically coming back from Sydney Olympics and stopping at a rest stop between Tucson and Phoenix, I threw away some trash from a fast food meal and I realized just a few days before at the Olympics I would have recycled every bit of it, even the straws!

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