Green Changes for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Green Changes for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

By looking to capture the bid for the 2022 Olympic Games, the United States Olympic Committee USOC is not only looking to further the athletic accomplishments but to make substantial environmental changes to the Winter Games. Their effort to make the event more green 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 took home 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 athletically that the United States is looking to capture the 2022 bid.  But why are they pushing to make the event more environmentally sound?

As fantastic and unifying as the Olympics are, it’s quite a carbon-rich event and not the most environmentally friendly. So while these changes may only seem minor, they’re actually a huge deal. It has been estimated that more than 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, and that’s not even with the emission made by the event itself.

Andrew Liveris and USOC members are looking to do more by following the lead of the 2008 Summer Games held in Beijing.  The Summer Games of 2008 made great efforts to showcase conservation practices and sustainable energy sources.  But 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, the IOC is hoping to progress that vision 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
(GreenJoyment note: This is a guest post and may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of GreenJoyment, it’s staff, or it’s members.)

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