During the last Winter Olympic Games (the Vancouver 2010 games), the United States held the most medals, with 9 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze. With results like this it only makes sense that the United States would look to capture the 2022 bid and bring the Olympics home. With this bid the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is not only looking to further the athletic accomplishments but to make sustainable environmental changes to the Winter Games. This began with naming Andrew Liveris and Dow Chemical the worldwide partner in the Olympics for the next decade.
Why are these changes such a big deal? As fantastic and unifying as the Olympics are, it's quite a carbon-rich event. It has been estimated that over 2/3 of the carbon emissions from the event is a result of some of the 1.5+ million attendees traveling (mostly via airplane) to and from the event.
While the Summer Games of 2008, held in Beijing, made great efforts to showcase conservation practices and sustainable energy sources, CEO Andrew Liveris and USOC members are looking to do more by basing off of the services used in Beijing. Exactly what environmentally friendly services did the Olympic facilities feature?
• 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.
While the Olympics in 2008 had great new ways of 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.
Co-written by Nerissa Barry and Daniel Fielding