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Sustainability, it’s snow joke to Winter Olympics

skijump.jpgGreenbang is not a fan of the Olympics. Greenbang feels the Olympics to be the televisual equivalent of getting a stone in your shoe – merely there to annoy – bumping all the good stuff, like Quincy off the telly schedules. The winter Olympics, now there’s a different matter. It’s inherently more fun. More camp. And with more chance of seeing some fella stack it as he attempts to negotiate an unfeasibly tall mountain with some flimsy bits of wood strapped to his feet.

As well as the luge – surely the oddest sport invented – the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics are promising thrills, spills and sustainability.

The organisation behind the games has just put out a report on how it’s doing so far – including the impact of the luge on the environment – and here’s what Greenbang found:

Our environmental monitoring and management activities included water quality monitoring, wildlife management, sediment and erosion control, site-specifi c spill prevention and contingency response planning and restoration of disturbed areas. We are pleased that VANOC’s headquarters in Vancouver received Gold certifi cation within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

Sometimes, creating sustainable venues has left us scratching our heads. For example, The Whistler Sliding Centre, home to the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events, takes place on a long, outdoor refrigerated track. We came up with a few ways to lessen the environmental impact of this unusual facility, including selecting
a site that required minimal vegetation clearing; targeting LEED Silver certification for the refrigeration plant building; using an energy effi cient ammonia refrigeration system; and maximizing energy conservation features for the track design.

We were challenged when, due to a delayed start and excessive rain, we rushed construction at the Whistler Creekside venue, which resulted in some erosion of the site, including surface soil instability and some sedimentation. We have since amended our procedures and now provide additional training to contractors to
ensure best practices in sediment and erosion control.

On climate and energy, we followed many of our planned pathways to lower fuel and energy use, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). These included starting development of traffi c and transportation management plans, reducing our need for diesel generators and developing our emissions management program.

By applying LEED green building standards and following our EMPs, we reduced negative impacts on air and water quality. Hybrids and other fuel-effi cient vehicles make up 50 per cent of our VANOC fl eet.

Minimizing waste reduces pollution, emissions and energy use, while easing pressure on local landfills and saving costs. To that end, we engaged with knowledgeable stakeholders on ways to meet our Zero Waste challenge. In the 2006-07 reporting period, we achieved 98 per cent diversion from landfi ll disposal.

Thanks to our wood waste composting project at Whistler Olympic Park, most of the vegetation debris has been reused on site. All VANOC offi ces and construction sites have waste management and recycling.

The full report, as ever, is here.

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