If the United States wins the 2022 bid for the Winter Olympics, there is already a lot of talk about increased athletic victories but more importantly there is talk of a lot of environmental changes. The United States Olympic Committee is not only looking to further the athletic accomplishments but to make sustainable environmental changes to the Winter Games. This began with naming Dow Chemical as the worldwide partner in the US Olympics efforts for the next decade.
During the last Winter Olympic Games (the Vancouver 2010 games), the United States won the most medals, with 9 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze. With dominance in the areas of snowboarding and skiing, it only makes sense that the United States considers itself important and is looking to capture the 2022 bid to host the Winter Olympics. With areas like Denver and Reno-Tahoe looking to host, the USOC is looking to make progress with the International Olympic Committee, in hopes of bring great changes to this world celebration.
Why are these changes such a big deal? As fantastic and unifying as the Olympics are, the event leaves quite a carbon footprint behind. 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 and providing further enhancements to the environmental focus. Exactly what environmentally friendly services did the Olympic facilities of 2008 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.
You can expect these products as well as progressed ideas, to appear at the coming events over the next decade and be a part of the USOC recommendations.