Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Green Is The New Gold: Vancouver Raises The Bar for Olympic Sustainability

The Vancouver and Whistler Olympic Villages will be the hottest places to be in February of 2010. With incredible musical performances, top-notch restaurants, and the world's best athletes roaming the streets, it will be the place to see and be seen. It will be the place to be for sports enthusiasts, families, the rich and famous, and everyone in between...but what about the environmentalists?

If you're concerned about the sustainability of such a huge enterprise, the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) hopes that your concerns will turn into awe once you learn about their commitment to sustainability. All buildings in the Olympic Villages have been completed according to the LEED Gold standard, with the exception of the Community Center, which was completed according to the LEED Platinum standard. All buildings have solar panels, green roofs, and recycle rain water for plant and roof irrigation. Innovative hydro-heating systems are used to control the temperatures of the buildings, and all parking is underground.

Furthermore, the Olympic Park was constructed with great care not to disturb the natural landscape, and to even integrate the event courses into the natural surroundings. The design committee combined the cross country and biathlon courses, reducing the size of the project by 35% and becoming the first committee to do so in the history of the Olympics. The site of the Ski Jump was moved at the last moment before construction in order to preserve old growth forest and wetlands.

The Olympic Games inevitably are linked to a huge carbon footprint. Simply the energy required to transport the millions of spectators and athletes to the region is astronomical. VANOC has a done a great job, however, in minimizing this footprint and setting the bar high for future planning committees.

1 comment:

  1. Cristina, Thanks for posting this! I'm all about green construction and I never would have known about this... Maybe we could build them a Kiva?