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Canada's Green 2010 Olympic Games

Fuel-cell buses, eco buildings, ‘zero waste’—Canada takes Olympic eco to next level.

A dump of white, a glut of gold and a whole lot of green—that’s the preferred colour palette of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to be held in Vancouver and Whistler, BC. And while Olympic organizers are counting on Mother Nature to deliver the snow and Canadian athletes the medals, they’re working hard behind the scenes to deliver the greenest games ever.

The 1994 Lillehammer Games were the first to embrace the concept of responsible environmental practices. And subsequent Olympic venues have, to a greater or lesser degree, continued the tradition. But the BC-based Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC)—the first to apply sustainability principles and practices to the planning, convening and legacy of the Games—wants to set a new gold standard for eco-friendly Games.

VANOC has publicly committed to conserving natural resources, preventing pollution, plus protecting and enhancing marine and forest ecosystems. What’s more, the committee is ensuring that all new buildings follow rigorous Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles, and that existing buildings are upgraded to improve energy efficiency.

Transport is also priority. VANOC is working to provide low-impact, low-emissions transportation choices, most notably deploying a hydrogen fuel cell bus fleet that will be left to the local community for use post Olympics.

A “zero waste” policy requires stringent waste-management standards to minimize environmental impact. Just one example: workers will mix wood waste from the Nordic events site with wildflower seeds and sprinkle anywhere soil has been disturbed to encourage growth and limit soil erosion. Who said Canucks were all about the gold?

By Julie Ovenell-Carter