Monday, March 01, 2010

Vancouver Olympics leaves green legacy

ENVIRONMENT. Athletes from all over the world are heading home after 16 days of tough Winter Olympic competitions in Vancouver and the surrounding mountains of British Columbia.
Medallists carry with them memories for life in gold, silver or bronze, but only a few might have noticed that their precious medals were made from recycled electronic waste.
This is just a little symbol of Vancouver’s real ambition with these Olympic Games; to use the sports-festival to put the city in the forefront of sustainable urban development.
There was widespread early criticism of the games in media reports around the globe (technical glitches at the opening ceremony, the tragic death of a luge competitor, the weather etc). These were mostly things the host city couldn’t be blamed for. But Vancouver got more positive headlines as the games progressed, and towards the end of the Olympics there were a number of reports on the green legacy of these Games. This story in the Los Angeles Times is one example.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson (left), a former businessman in organic products, aims at making the city the “greenest in the world”. He has been seen riding his old mountain bike between events, the way he usually travels between meetings in the city,
The Los Angeles Times reports that the 2010 Games will be the first in history to achieve a “carbon neutral” status for not only the Games, but also the local travel for visiting athletes, coaches and officials.
The real showcase for Vancouver’s green ambitions has been the Olympic Village, which has received the highest possible environmental certification. After the Olympic and the following Paralympics, the Olympic Village and its surroundings will be turned into one of the greenest neighbourhoods in North America. Millennium Water, as it will be called, will house 16,000 residents and be another example of the densification behind Vancouver’s growth (the video below shows a commercial for Millennium Water).
Worldchanging, a respected Seattle-based non-profit media organization that covers “innovative solutions to the planet’s problems” hails Vancouver for using the Olympics to “help change the rules” to benefit sustainable urbanization.
“All too often spectacular projects like these can distract attention from the fact that all around the rest of the city continues on unchanged. In Vancouver, the real success of these developments is that they have helped drive the city’s green building policy in ways that are transforming the city as a whole”, writes Alex Aylett of Worldchanging.


Copyright: VANOC/COVAN
The Olympic Village is a symbol of the green legacy of the Vancouver Games.