Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Spectators Should Expect to see Changes Made to Olympics

This is a guest post co-written by Nerissa Barry and Daniel Fielding. Any comments and queries can fielded to Nerissa via

The United States Olympic Committee USOC is not only looking to further the athletic accomplishments but also making sustainable environmental changes to the Winter Games. And with the bid for the 2022 games being awarded in 2015, they must be able to move fast with their efforts. The quest has already started in naming Andrew Liveris and Dow Chemical as the worldwide partner in the Olympics for the next decade. 

During the last Winter Olympic Games (the Vancouver 2010 games), the United States garnered the most number of medals with 37, broken down into 9 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze. Thanks to American dominance in snowboarding (i.e. Shaun White), Nordic combined (i.e Lindsey Vonn), speed skating (i.e. Shani Davis) and skiing, it only makes sense that the United States should host the 2022 Winter Games. With possible venues like Denver and Reno-Tahoe, the USOC is looking to prepare a bidding process with the International Olympic Committee in hopes of bring great changes to this world celebration.

After the controversy over what transpired in securing the Salt Lake City bid, USOC Chairman, Larry Probst hopes to rebuild relationships first with their international counterparts before releasing all information concerning the bid. What we do know is that there is a lot of talk about making the Games more environment-friendly, and with this, the United States could put themselves in high bid mentions with what they're looking to add to the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

Why are these changes such a big deal? As fantastic and unifying as the Olympics are, it's quite a carbon-rich event. Over 2/3 of the estimated carbon emissions from the event come from some of the 1.5+ million attendees traveling (mostly via airplane) to and from the event.

While the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics made great efforts to showcase conservation practices and sustainable energy sources, USOC members and sponsors are looking to go the extra mile on becoming a greener Olympics with these proposed plans:
  • 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. 

The IOC saw the opportunity to promote sustainability in the Olympics in 2008, helping provide the filtration and insulation for the events. That vision has progressed 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.

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