PyeongChang aims for sustainable Olympics
Photo courtesy of Republic of Korea
Over the past decade, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has promoted environmental friendliness and sustainability. The Olympics host countries have made renewable energy, carbon offsets and conservation aspects of their hosting plan.
PyeongChang, South Korea, site of the 2018 Winter Games, is continuing that trend, reports Mother Nature Network.
PyeongChang organizers have touted their efforts to achieve a green Olympics. Solar and wind power will provide energy to event venues. Organizers have created a recycling infrastructure and public transportation network.
Olympic preparations have earned some negative press as well. Conservationists have criticized the clearing of a mountain forest to make room for a new ski slope (when others already exist in the area), and some wonder whether new buildings and venues will be used once the gold medals have been awarded.
PyeongChang is trying to respond to naysayers by being transparent when it comes to the greenness of their Olympics. Organizers have published information about carbon offsets, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality and water quality. They also have a “performance index” that shows up-to-date data concerning their efforts. They have published reports outlining their goals and plans.
Others wonder whether the most common drawback of past Games will haunt PyeongChang in the future. The new transportation network, venues and accommodations are meant to increase tourism allure after the events have ended. For past hosts like Athens, Sochi and Rio de Janeiro, that tourism boom never materialized.
The IOC has noticed this problem. The next Olympics cycle is in Tokyo and Beijing. Both of those cities have hosted before and will use already-existing venues rather than building new ones.
PyeongChang could be one of the last "built from scratch” Olympics. Some are already concerned that the Games won’t make a profit when ticket sales and sponsorships are added up.
Even so, PyeongChang is pushing forward with its green Olympics efforts. Organizers have enlisted major corporate sponsors, many of whom have a long history with the Olympics. General Electric, which has provided renewable energy and tech solutions for past hosts including London and Sochi, is involved in the 2018 efforts.
Coca-Cola is working with organizers, local officials and the World Wildlife Fund on a water resource project that could affect all of South Korea. Like GE, Coke has a history with the Olympics. At Vancouver 2010, the company became the first zero-waste, carbon neutral sponsor.
Gangwon, PyeongChang’s province, started erecting wind turbines while it was still bidding to host the 2018 Games. These wind farms could produce enough power to cover all of the 190 megawatts of electricity demanded during the Games.
Six venues constructed specifically for the Olympics will rely on either solar or geothermal energy. A number of these recent constructions have also achieved a G-SEED rating, the South Korean green building certification that uses many of the same criteria as LEED.
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