Friday, February 19, 2010

Environmentally-friendly Winter Games

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. 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.

Green Venues: The Vancouver 2010 venues are a mixture of existing, new, and renovated facilities. The new venues were all developed in accordance with the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) 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.
The Hillcrest/Nat Bailey Stadium Park venue (home to curling for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and wheelchair curling for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games) is an example of where an integrated heat recovery solution was successfully implemented. Hillcrest, which will feature a new icesheet, is next to a future 50-metre pool in a new multi-purpose community recreation and aquatics centre. After the Games, the heat generated by the ice rink’s refrigeration plant will be captured and used to heat the pool. The development, a legacy for the people of Vancouver, will be operated by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, which will enjoy the cost savings of reusing waste heat.
A number of other green initiatives have also been integrated into the sites, with perhaps the most visibly striking being the use of salvaged British Columbia wood that was damaged by a pine-beetle infestation for the roof of the Richmond Olympic Oval. At a size of about 100 metres by 200 metres (2 hectares), the roof is believed to be the largest surface ever covered in the once-discarded wood. Showcasing use of this wood may encourage its application elsewhere and help mitigate the economic hardship the pine beetle epidemic has brought upon regional communities in British Columbia.