Green engineering in the winter olympicsThursday, March 27, 2014 by: Greener Ideal
The Sochi Olympic games provided a sporting spectacle that the entire world was able to enjoy, centering around a town in southern Russia where athletes from many countries gathered. There were events like ski jumping, snowboarding, bobsledding and many others. These were not things for which the Sochi area was already prepared, so billions of dollars were spent to build new facilities and buildings. Some of these structures were built to accommodate the games themselves, while others were built to house all of the athletes who were competing. A lot of media attention focused on how much money was spent, but not nearly enough focused on the green technologies that were used in the building projects.
When the games were first announced for Sochi, the Russian government released a statement saying that they wanted the Olympics to create zero waste. They really wanted everything to work in harmony with nature, rather than destroying nature in an effort to create all of the things that were needed. This made a lot of sense for the Olympic games since the winter games tend to focus so much on outdoor activities, such as cross country skiing. There were many shots of the beautiful mountain backdrop, and Russia wanted to compliment this setting with green building practices.
This focus marked a huge turning point for Russia as a nation, as this was the first time that these green standards had been used in the country. Everything from energy consumption to trash creation was considered. It sets a precedent for the future, which could really be beneficial in the long run. Some of the structures were designed to house future events, such as the World Cup, so these green standards could come into play for far more sporting events in the area in years to come.
For example, one system that was set up was a rainwater usage system to help to conserve water. Rather than relying entirely on wells, like most places do, the Olympic venues were designed with a system that collected rainwater, filtered it out, and used it in many different functions. While drinking water was still pulled from wells to ensure that it was clean and safe enough for consumption, other things, such as toilets, could be operated on rainwater. This meant less energy consumption and less waste of water with the influx of people.
Building Materials For many of the structures, environmentally friendly building materials were used during construction. This included many materials that were made from recycled items. This could not be done in all situations, of course, but it was done as much as possible so that waste from other projects could be put to good use on this extensive project.
Of course, having this many people in these huge venues during the winter meant that a lot of energy had to be used to heat the buildings. To make this less wasteful, heat recovery systems were used, along with advanced heating and cooling systems that were designed for efficiency. This made it possible to give everyone a safe and comfortable environment without the massive spending on oil and gas that would have been needed without these system. This was done both to save money and to reduce the environmental impact of the games.
The Green Games
In the end, the green tactics used in Russia had a huge impact because of the scope of the event. Savings on water, heating and electricity grew to huge proportions with extensive use, and many recycled building materials were used on dozens of giant structures.