Eco-Rep Green Corner: Olympics add new color to medals

Everything is going green. Even the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Vancouver’s goal was to make this year’s Winter Olympics the greenest in its history. They have succeeded in many ways.

The Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) has added a green twist to the medals given out this year. Every medal awarded at the games is made from recycled e-waste. E-waste (short for electronic waste) includes everything from iPods and cell phones to TVs and computer components. A study published by Science last year states that e-waste is the fastest-growing element of U.S. solid-waste stream, making up more than 1.36 million metric tons in landfills and elsewhere. The company supplying the extracted gold, silver and copper is Teck Resources, which plans on processing more than 15,000 tons of e-waste this year.

The VANOC has also committed to producing the 2010 Winter Games in a sustainable way. There are many ads out to increase awareness about reducing your carbon footprint when traveling to and from the games. All of the new buildings constructed for the games were done so with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in mind. Some of these buildings were equipped with solar panels and green roofs. The Vancouver Olympic Centre received LEED Gold certification for elements like its gray wastewater system to recycle collected rain water for flushing toilets and irrigation. The community center at the Olympic Village was built to LEED platinum standards (the highest possible LEED certification) and is energy neutral. They achieved energy neutrality by reusing captured methane gas from a former landfill for energy and using waste heat recovered from the municipal wastewater treatment as the primary heat source. Energy usage at all the venues can also be followed online at

Social interactions were initiated between indigenous peoples and inner-city residents and businesses to encourage inclusion of those usually left out of the opportunities provided by the games. There was great care taken to ensure the Opening Ceremonies reflected not just modern Canada but also the “first nations.” A historic signing of the Protocol with the First Four Nations ensured a partnership between the indigenous peoples and the VANOC through the planning process.

This year’s green effort at the winter games is meant to be a prototype for future Olympic Games. To learn more about ways the VANOC is working hard to make the 2010 Winter Olympics sustainable go to:

– Lauren Clabaugh

Lawrenceville Eco-Rep

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