In a state not short of green ideas, British Columbia once again looks forward to displaying its green credentials but this time on the international stage. The Vancouver 2010 winter Olympic organisers aim to make the 2010 Winter Olympics a showcase of the state and city’s progress in embracing sustainable eco-values.

Historically, Olympics have not necessarily focused on a legacy being the event itself, as recently as the 2004 Athens 2004, where not even the facilities appeared to stay in use afterwards, giving the impression the Olympics was little more than one-use disposable event, use and discard.

Fortunately, organisers have moved towards demanding that the Olympic events are geared towards the long-term benefit of their host city. One of London 2012’s key arguments was its potential to rejuvenate the East end of London, with new transport links, jobs housing and business opportunities. All of this is well and good, except the Olympic games themselves still have smash and grab air to them, fans from across the world come, at large expense, stay in facilities often that fall into disrepair after and leave a trail of environmental destruction in their wake. Vancouver aims to tackle this head on, although the Winter Olympics is much smaller in scale than a summer Olympics, nevertheless British Columbia’s most populous city aims to develop and display its green credentials by creating a sustainable model.

Efforts are numerous, an expansion of the mass transit SkyTrain system, first developed for the world trade fair, will form a centre piece of the project.  The buildings, are a showcase of green development, dual flash toilets (who said green wasn’t glamorous), rain harvesting roofs, and even a site-wide compost. Buildings to house athletes are expected to receive the US green building council’s LEED gold certificate (the highest possible) and not surprising given they will have green roofs of plants to act as insulators in winter and cool temperatures in the summer.

Yet perhaps the boldest innovation comes in the area of recycling, often overlooked by environmentalists because of its truly unglamorous image, recycling can potentially make savings in carbon cycle, not merely the manufacturing but the shipping of the products is all saved. Macleans has the story:

“diverting 85 per cent of all its solid waste from landfills, starting this fall through next May. That’s no small challenge. The diversion rate in Toronto, where residents fill green bins with food scraps, blue boxes with other recyclables, and pay for what they throw away, is 44 per cent. In the environmentally conscious metro Vancouver area, the rate is 52 per cent. Halifax, which has been running its green bin program for a decade, is only now getting close to its 60 per cent target.”

Whether the ambitious targets for companies working on the 2010 games is more debateable:

“To date, the only corporate sponsor that has unveiled a fully formed waste-reduction plan is Coca-Cola. The beverage giant is vowing to collect 100 per cent of the containers it distributes at the Olympics”

Yet, whether or not the goals are fully realised,   the shift towards sustainability in events which symbolised the disposable culture is a welcome one, putting increasing responsibility on organisers to reduce environmental impact and creating a culture among corporate providers, such as Coca-Cola bodes well not just for future events but in raising expectations in the public sphere of what to expect from governments and business alike in a more environmentally conscious age.

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