Here in Vancouver, the city is abuzz with pre-Olympic enthusiasm, as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games brings our athletes, and our city, into the international limelight. It should be said that not everyone is on board with the Olympics, some arguing that there are more important issues to look at, and toward which to spend municipal and provincial monies. Yet, for me, the events represent more than just a two-week tourist attraction.
The Olympics is a tradition that is many thousands of years old. Yet one of the things that typifies it is a way of showing the world where technology and innovation is taking us. In the realm of green building, the Olympics, and the infrastructure that the events demand, there is a chance for green builders and designers to strut their stuff on the world stage, and to produce buildings that shine as beacons of modernity that reflect the times in which they are built.
To a greater degree, it is a chance to show how green building isn’t just a novelty to show off a world class event. It’s a chance to demonstrate how green thinking and design can transform our ideas of how to manage resources more efficiently, while still keeping an eye on what is attractive, too.
In this particular case, I’m talking about the Olympic Village, being designed and built on a 100 acre lot in the False Creek area of Vancouver. Some of the features of this LEED platinum certificate project is:
- optimum use of natural light through passive design
- rainwater harvesting for toilet use
- drain water heat recovery system
- green roofing
- use of recycled green building materials – 15%
A big issue in Vancouver is that of homelessness, and affordable housing in general. This is as true here as it is in many major cities. I think this lies at the crux of a lot of anti-Olympic sentiment.
Yet, what if we can take what we’ve learned in creating building projects that exemplify optimal energy efficiency and best use of resources? And what if we then apply those principles of efficiency to make housing more accessible and more affordable in all future projects? If this were the case, which is hope it is, I’d like to think that we don’t have to choose between a serious issue like affordable housing and a chance at worldwide attention.
For more information about the Olympic Village project, including timelines and more detailed green building information, investigate the Vancouver Park Board website.