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Torino organizers claim new green standard

Vancouver 2010 officials look, listen, learn as final sustainability report released



By Clare Ogilvie

Organizers of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy are claiming to have set new standards in environmental sustainability for mass sport and audience event.

And that is good news for the organizers of the Vancouver 2010 Games, who have been involved in an active transfer of knowledge about sustainable initiatives.

“There was definitely a lot to be learned and the Torino organizers have been terrific at sharing their experiences,” said Ken Baker, consulting director environmental sustainability for the Vancouver Organizing Committee.

Three of the major topics under discussion have been how and where to build venues, how to handle all the different kinds of waste a Games produces, and how to offset emissions associated with hosting such a large event.

In Torino’s 209-page sustainability report, released recently at the United Nations Environment Programme Global Forum Sport and Environment in Lausanne, event organizers are able to get a glimpse of how successful the 2006 Olympic initiatives were.

For example, the report said that 67 per cent of the estimated 103,500 tonnes of green house gas emissions produced were offset through the Heritage Climate Torino (HECTOR) program. Work will continue in the Piedmont region to continue to offset the emissions totals from the Games.

Internationally, HECTOR was used to purchase verifiable emission reductions from certified green and cleaner energy projects in Eritrea, Mexico and Sri Lanka.

And it’s estimated that the 16 days of the Games only increased the waste burden in Torino by 0.2 per cent. In 2000 an average of just under 20 per cent of waste and rubbish was separated for recycling and re-use in the region, but by 2005 it had climbed to well over one-third as a result of TOROC’s Prevention and Management Plan.

Other initiatives at the Torino Games included the investment of five million euros by the administration of the Regione Piedmonte in renewable and sustainable energy projects, such as district heating projects.

Organizers also looked closely at their snowmaking requirements, as the systems consume large quantities of water. After review Torino was able to reduce water storage reservoirs from 20 to just nine for the event.

“Torino 2006, in which UNEP has been a partner, set targets and timetables across a wide range of environmental and sustainability criteria,” said Achim Steiner, UN undersecretary general and executive director of UNEP.

“Mass sporting events, televised around the world, offer a great potential for practically demonstrating how UNEP’s belief in the power of sport to inspire improving environmental management can be achieved in every sphere of life — potential that can inspire organizers of big audience participation events as well as governments, industry and individuals to also become champions for our planet.