2010 Winter Games set new bar for large sporting events

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

The 2010 Winter Olympics went far beyond being green, it set a new sustainability blueprint for future large-scale sport events, according to the final Vancouver 2010 sustainability report released last week.

The final report shares the successes and challenges on the road to 2010, and outlines how the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) successfully expanded its definition of sustainability to include not only the environment but also social and economic opportunities that produced lasting benefits. It also reports on the accolades received, including winning the GLOBE Award for Environmental Excellence for Green Building.

'We strived to make sustainability part of everything we did as an organization. Our team conducted its work with a spirit of integrity and tried to do what was right on every occasion,' said VANOC's Chief Executive Officer, John Furlong.

'While this wasn't always easy, we met our commitments and we finished the Games knowing that we did our very best to reach our sustainability goals whenever and wherever possible', he added.

VANOC created a new sustainability governance model for large sport event organizations includiing a sustainable event tool kit for mega sport events. It also demonstrated how a venue program can be designed for legacy use and built to minimize environmental impact.

It demonstrated how partnerships with Aboriginal people can make Games stronger, how socially and economically disadvantaged groups can participate and benefit from the Games, and how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through unprecedented participation in a Games carbon offset program.

The final report covers the period from August 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010 and documents VANOC's sustainability performance leading up to and through Games time as well as the majority of the decommissioning phase post-Games. VANOC produced five annual sustainability reports.

Report Summary

1. Accountability: a new sustainability governance model for a large sport event organization was developed with an annual reporting framework was developed based on internationally recognized standards for environmental management, corporate accountability and stakeholder input. A Sustainable Sport Event Toolkit for mega sport events was developed in partnership with the IOC and the International Academy for Sport Science and Technology.

2. Environmental Stewardship and Impact Reduction: Performance targets for green building construction, carbon management and waste reduction drove innovation and environmental performance across all aspects of the Games.

In addition to winning the  Excellence for Green Building award from the Globe Foundation and the World Green Building Council for building the greenest Olympic district in North America - all new facilities were built to a minimum LEED Silver. New and upgraded Games facilities provide long-term social, economic and environmental benefits to venue communities.

VANOC signed the first Official Carbon Offsetter in Olympic and Paralympic history, Offsetters (www.offsetters.ca), and showcased British Columbia's leadership role in Canada and internationally in the fast growing clean technology sector.

VANOC's carbon management program achieved a minimum 15 per cent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions across-the-board, and was the first Games to stage a carbon neutral torch relay and host carbon neutral athletes.

3. Social Inclusion and Responsibility: Sponsorship, construction, recruitment, procurement and community support were leveraged to share the economic and social benefits of the Games with inner-city, Aboriginal and other traditionally under-served populations.

4. Aboriginal Participation and Collaboration: Through formal agreements and protocols, VANOC recognized Aboriginal title on the shared traditional territories where the Games were held, providing for unprecedented Aboriginal Participation in all aspects of the Games.

Over  $59 million in economic opportunities were realized by Aboriginal businesses since 2003, with another $190,000 contributed to the Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund through the sale of official licensed Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal merchandise since 2008.

5. Economic Benefits: Leveraged sponsorship, construction, recruitment and procurement to enhance the sustainability performance of the Games. The Buy Smart program was established to ensure sustainability attributes, ethical choices and Aboriginal participation were considered in all of VANOC's procurement and licensing activities.

6. Sport for Sustainable Living: VANOC leveraged the interest in sport to raise awareness and inspire action on local and global sustainability solutions for businesses, communities and individuals.

Aside from VANOC's own reporting, two independent studies examining the impact of the Games are in progress. They are the Olympic Games Impact (OGI) study (www.ogi-ubc.ca) and the Joint Canada-British Columbia Socio-Economic Impact Study of the 2010 Olympic and  Paralympic Winter Games.

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