The environment is the third pillar of the Olympic Movement and, as such, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) places considerable importance on the environmental and sustainable management of the Games. This commences early during the bid process, where the environment is one of the chapters in the bid questionnaires. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games are a leading example of how respect of and commitment to the environment have been embraced and integrated into planning.
The Vancouver 2010 venues are a mixture of existing, new, and renovated facilities. The new venues were all developed in accordance with the LEED green building ratings systems, and a number of buildings are looking to achieve gold and silver ratings – while there is even one building in the Vancouver Olympic Village aiming for platinum status. An area where the new and renovated venues have looked closely at their designs is that of heat recapture, which sees the excess heat produced in one part of the building being recycled to provide heat in another area, thus reducing energy consumption. A number of other green initiatives have also been integrated into the sites, with perhaps the most visibly striking being the use of BC pine beetle-damaged wood for the roof of the Richmond Olympic Oval.
Vancouver 2010 is also trying to use the Games to change people’s travel habits for the better by encouraging them to travel smart. With local residents being asked to reduce their vehicle trips by 30 per cent during Games time, a number of initiatives have been introduced to make it easier to travel smart and in a more environmentally friendly way, hopefully, encouraging residents to make the changes permanent once the Games are over. Another sustainable travel initiative that will be showcased during the Games is the BC Hydrogen Highway, which will highlight hydrogen and fuel-cell technology such as fuel-cell vehicles and fuelling stations. Some of the buses that spectators will use to get around will use this technology.
Building Carbon Neutral Games
The Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee (VANOC) is looking for these Games to be carbon neutral. It intends to achieve this in four steps. Firstly, it measured its carbon footprint since VANOC’s creation in September 2003. It then looked to reduce emissions wherever possible, be it through sustainable venue design, efficient transport planning or fleet vehicle management. Where emissions could not be reduced or eliminated, VANOC set out to offset its direct carbon emissions. The last important element of VANOC’s carbon management plan is to enable and inspire further action by leveraging the 2010 experience to increase awareness of and participation in emerging solutions to climate change.