Environmental legacies a strength of Games 

Plan calls for green facilities, transportation

Green buildings, zero waste, zero net emissions, and a hydrogen and natural gas infrastructure are just a few of the environmental legacies that are currently being planned for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

"Since the beginning we’ve been wrestling with the issue (of sustainability)," said Ken Baker, the executive director of sustainability and the environment for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation. "There’s no road map here for what we’re trying to do, because we’re the first. But we’re figuring things out the best we can."

Baker and Maureen Douglas, the director of community relations for the Bid, discussed the environment, sustainability and Olympic legacies at the monthly AWARE meeting on Nov. 7.

While a green bid is not as important to the IOC as the facilities or public support for the bid, says Baker, he believes that environmental initiatives will give Vancouver’s bid a competitive edge at the IOC, while boosting support for the bid at home.

According to Baker, the bid is being guided by a sustainability management system to ensure that sustainable economic, social and environmental principles are taken into account in every aspect of planning.

The details of the various sustainability initiatives are in the official Bid Book, which will be sent to the IOC members in January.

He said the details of these initiatives are still considered competitive information, and won’t be released to the public until the bid book is distributed. Still, some of the details in the bid book are already public knowledge.

For example, all of the new facilities that are being built for the games will be designed to qualify for a minimum silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) architectural standard.

"Of course we’re going for gold LEED certification, and our partners want to go for gold because it’s an opportunity for them to showcase what is possible," said Baker.

Apart from being better for the environment, and addressing social issues of housing, "that also falls on the economic side of sustainability," Baker said. "Whistler and Vancouver already build great buildings. We are recognized as world leaders in the field of green building technology. We can export that capability (using the Olympics) as a vehicle to show other countries what’s possible."

In the transportation department, Baker said the bid is not as badly off as some people might think.

While he acknowledges that the Sea to Sky Highway is perceived at home as a weakness in the bid, Baker says that they will be able to reliably shuttle all ticket holders from Vancouver to Whistler using buses, ferries and trains.

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