The 2010 Winter Olympics kick off tonight in Vancouver, Canada, and the organizing committee, VANOC, has seen to it that these will be the greenest Games yet. Sustainability has been a top priority throughout the seven-year planning process. VANOC focused on minimizing carbon emissions in part because the pivotal elements of winter sports – snow and ice – are especially vulnerable to climate change (they’ve had to start hauling snow to some venues due to rain and unseasonably warm temperatures).During the planning process, VANOC encouraged public input and consulted with Canada’s First Nations to determine where and how to build competition facilities. The buildings erected for the Games were designed based on LEED specifications, and the Olympic Village community center was constructed to LEED Platinum standards. Spectators will be whisked around Whistler in hydrogen fuel-cell buses that emit only water vapor. Gold, silver, and bronze medals contain metal reclaimed from e-waste.
To make the event carbon-neutral, VANOC plans to purchase carbon credits to offset all emissions that can’t be reduced or eliminated. The organizers hope that Vancouver 2010 will produce enduring local and global benefits and provide a model for future Olympic Games. The opening ceremony begins tonight at 6 p.m. PST, and the Games last through the end of February.
-- Sophie Matson / photo ©VANOC/COVAN