Whistler energy consumption and recycling up during 2010 Games 

Third of four UBC reports looks back at Olympic-related impacts


The amount of electricity used in Whistler spiked in February and March of 2010 while the amount of waste reused, recycled or composted also went up drastically leading up to and during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

These are two key findings in the third in a series of four Olympic Games Impact reports being produced by the educational studies department at the University of B.C.

According to the report, BC Hydro reported that Whistler's energy consumption in the category known as "other/unclassified" during the months of January, February and March was a "staggering" 31 times higher than the same period the year before. Energy consumption in categories like residential, commercial and industrial was relatively stable during the Olympic period in Whistler.

Richmond and Vancouver experienced increases also but not as significant as the jump recorded in Whistler.

The report authors wrote: "While the conjecture cannot be formally substantiated by the data source (BC Hydro), the tentative conclusion that the staging of the Olympic Games might be at least partially responsible for the sudden uncharacteristic increase in unclassified energy consumption in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler during the winter months 2010 seems to be supported by the data."

As energy consumption in Whistler was spiking, so was the production of solid waste. The report authors found that solid waste produced during the Games-time reporting period was ten times as much as the amount of solid waste produced during the same time period the year before.

While the amount produced during Games-time jumped, the share of waste that was re-used, recycled or composted also increased.

Overall, the amount of total waste created between August 2009 and July 2010 increased ten-fold when compared to the same time period the year before. The amount of waste diverted to compost programs increased 40 times in that year.

"It is possible that the proportionate increase of reused, recycled and composted waste and the proportionate decrease in disposed waste (as fractions of total waste) during the Games period are due to a commitment to pro-environmental/pro-sustainability practices adopted and promoted by the Olympic Games," wrote the authors.

The amount of waste reused, recycled or composted grew by 12.3 per cent while the amount of waste going to landfill or other garbage handling facilities dropped by the same amount.

The lead author of the report was Rob VanWynsberghe. He said after the report was released that Canadians and British Columbians had a real sense of pride during the Games and in the weeks following the mega-event.

"The Games injected millions into the local economy and great strides have been made in making these events more environmentally sound," said VanWynsberghe. "Putting on mega-events like the Olympics directly impacts the local economy and the environment and this is where we saw the most significant findings."

The Games-time report conservatively estimates that the public sector benefited by at least $50 million in total tax revenue from Olympic activities.

To see the report go to http://www.css.ubc.ca/




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