What do sports have to do with sustainability? Well, for winter athletes the climate change is right in their face. With temperatures rising and snow melting, many good winter sports locations are either shrinking or disappearing. The Winter Olympic Games are a massive event. Millions of people around the globe watch it and thousands of visitors come to support the athletes. So, the Vancouver organization committee decided to take this opportunity and communicate the importance of reducing your impact on the environment to a world audience, by setting a good example.
Richmond Olympic Oval
The most prestigious building of the Winter Olympics is traditionally the Olympic Oval where the speed skating races are held. A great effort has been made to make the Richmond Olympic Oval an icon of sustainable design. Sometimes, measurements can be very simple, for example by practicing smart site selection: The oval is deliberately built on an already disturbed site, to refrain from having to clear a new terrain and cutting down hundreds of trees and destroying animal habitat. This may sound like an obvious choice, but unfortunately it is not yet a common consideration in the construction industry.
Turning a plague into a virtue
Other measurements are less straight forward, like the choice to use pine beetle infested wood to cover the 100 by 200 meter roof of the oval. Due to Canada's increasing mild winters, pine beetles have grown exceptionally large in number and have infested British Columbia's forests. It is a disaster for the forest industry. The infested wood is not being sold and left to rot on the land. The designers of the Olympic Oval have responded to this crisis by treating the damaged wood and using it for the specular roof, proudly showing its imperfections left by the insects. By this they hope to inspire others to make use of the otherwise discarded material.
Project: Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games
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