For the Winter Olympics this year in Sochi, Russia pledged to go green. As part of the country’s bid to host the 2014 event, they committed to green building standards and promised not to create landfills as part of a “zero waste” policy. With a $51 billion budget — the biggest in Olympic history — the task to create the greenest Olympics yet seemed rather feasible. Using our many years of experience in green construction, we put Sochi to the test by evaluating how green they have actually gone.
Among Sochi’s plans for going green were LED lighting, thin-film photovoltaic cells, germicidal paint, air purification and decontamination systems, autonomous lighting points, and low emission glazing. According to the Sochi 2014 website, Russia promised to use “renewable sources of energy, waste minimization and recycling, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as sustainable water and energy use” in about 200 of their Olympic venues. A number of thermal and hydroelectric power stations were to be renovated as well. All of this was backed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation, in addition to three of Russia’s opposing political parties.
These steps toward a greener Winter Olympics are encouraging and should serve as an example for future Olympics to come, but as is to be expected with any major production, something is bound to go wrong. At the Sochi Winter Olympics, a lot of things haven’t gone quite as well as expected due to missing funds and mishaps at the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, illegal landfills have also reportedly been used to dump construction waste and there have been thousands of acres of deforestation, wetlands damage, and a reduction in biodiversity. Despite these environmental complaints, Emmanuelle Moreau, the head of media relations for the IOC, explains that Sochi 2014 is the first Olympic games to reduce the carbon footprint of athletes and attendees and it’s the first international sports event in Russia to even consider sustainability and the environment.
While Sochi’s push to go green at the 2014 Winter Olympics didn’t fulfill 100% of it’s requirements, it’s a start. The recognition and awareness for a greener alternative to such large scaled events is crucial. There is no question there is still a lot to be done in the future, but at GGR Energy, we are glad to be at the forefront of green construction and energy conservation. You don’t need to host the major countries in the most notable sporting event in order to go green, go for the gold and start with your home!