Big shoes: managing an olympic-sized carbon footprint

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

VANOC is the first Olympic committee to track and tackle its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the day it won the bid - July 2, 2003. Along the way, the committee has cut its projected 'business as usual' emissions by 18 percent or 57 000 tonnes (t).

The Games are now forecast to emit 268 000 t- 18 000 t in direct emissions (e.g. venue construction and operation, transportation, power use) and 150 000 t in indirect emissions (most of it from air travel to and from the Games by participants, media and spectators).

The reduction in direct emissions was achieved, in part, through a combination of energy-efficient technologies and processes (e.g. the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED®] venue), the use of renewable energy (e.g. hydro-electric power) and conservation activities. For example, BC Hydro estimates that powering the 2010 Winter Games will produce just 10 percent of the GHG emissions of past Olympics.

To meet the goal of carbon-neutral Games, VANOC will buy carbon offsets for the rest of its direct emissions. It works through partner Offsetters, a carbon asset management company based in British Columbia, to invest in clean-technology projects that avoid or remove an equivalent amount of emissions.

For indirect emissions, VANOC has a voluntary campaign that encourages partners, sponsors, media and spectators to offset their Games-related emissions.

The huge savings capture the difference between an army of portable diesel generators and sophisticated community energy systems that draw renewable hydro-electricity from the grid.

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