Sustainability at the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics Winter Games

Friday, February 19, 2010

It is difficult to host an event with no environmental impact when it is as large and complex as the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). However, VANOC has taken an aggressive approach with the aim of building sustainability into the Games. So let’s put some of the past controversy aside and look at a few positive things that have been done. First of all, the Vancouver Organizing Committee worked with the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) to create a Sustainable Sport and Event Toolkit (SSET). “The goal is twofold: to produce sustainable operations and events; and to inspire athletes, sponsors and fans to do their part for a sustainable future.”[1] Many interesting measures have been put into place to reach sustainability objectives in order to become the first Carbon-Neutral Games.

- LEED standards have been incorporated into venue design and construction. Eight sustainable venues are taking the waste heat and reusing it. In fact, “the athlete villages in Vancouver and Whistler will tap waste heat from their municipal wastewater treatment systems and redirect it to provide space and domestic hot water heating.”[2] Please follow the sustainable venues site to read more about specific sustainable attributes of each venue.

- Each venue has undergone an environmental assessment to identify specific measures to protect the environment, sensitive areas and biodiversity. For example, the Alpine Skiing racecourse at Whistler Creekside was designed to have less of an impact on wildlife and require the removal of less vegetation while still creating an exciting and challenging course for the athletes. Also, volunteers manually relocated 400 Tailed Frogs 40 metres upstream to a permanent stream course that will allow for a vegetated riparian area post-Games.

- The VANOC’s Buy Smart program incorporates green, social, ethical and Aboriginal criteria into its procurement process. For example, all 1,700 victory bouquets are being made by Just Beginnings Non-Profit Society, a flower shop and floral design school for women with barriers to employment. The bouquets are composed of locally grown greenhouse flowers and greens imported from sustainable farms in Ecuador. “The air transportation associated with the imported flowers will be offset as part of VANOC’s carbon management program. And even the packaging and wrapping around the bouquets are sourced according to sustainability principals.”[3]

- VANOC publishes annual sustainability reports to account for their performance on sustainability objectives and to communicate publicly about it.

To learn more about how the 2010 Olympics is making an effort, please visit the sustainability section of their website.

- Danielle Perreault




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