Vancouver, Canada. The organizing committee for the Vancouver Olympics is making a bold green statement with the 2010 Games. The committee has gone to great lengths to prioritize environmental sustainability, beginning with an ambitious carbon-offset scheme.
According to estimates calculated by the Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation, 268,000 tons of carbon emissions will be offset by participants in the Olympic Games. Many of these participants—including corporate sponsors, governments, and broadcasters—have already agreed to invest in a portfolio of local, British Columbia-based clean energy projects to offset the carbon emitted by their activities at the Games.
The sponsors of the Olympic torch relay, for instance—Coca-Cola and the Royal Bank of Canada—plan to offset all of the emissions created by the relay, as well as all of their other business at the Games. Linda Coady, the organizing committee’s Vice President of Sustainability, boasted that “athletes at the Games will be the first carbon neutral athletes in Olympic and Paralympic history … where the travel and accommodation of close to 7,000 athletes, coaches and officials will be offset as part of the Games' direct carbon footprint."
The Vancouver Olympics’ feats in sustainability also include the design of the Olympic structures and transportation systems. The Olympic Village in Whistler is powered by methane gas captured from a former landfill and heated by waste heat recovered from a local wastewater treatment system. The community center in the Village is a “net-zero” building—it is entirely energy neutral. $89 million was also spent on a fleet of hydrogen buses and infrastructure to carry visitors between the Olympic facilities.
The organizers of the Vancouver Games have set a precedent they hope will become the new standard for future Olympics.