For those of us that have watched the Olympics for more than 20 years, it’s been really fun to watch some of the newer events emerging. Sure, we love to watch the traditional bobsled, downhill skiing, and hockey (go USA), but the Olympics have really progressed with “new era” events like “half pipe snowboarding” and “snowboard cross.” Cool stuff and our hats off to the International Olympic Committee for recognizing these emerging sports and modifying tradition to keep interest in the Olympics alive!
As a host city, Vancouver should be applauded for taking this spirit of progression to sustainable building initiatives and pushing renewable energy measures that set a new standard for future Olympic venues.
Some highlights are:
- The site for the Village was a Brownfield development of a former industrial area. Following the Games it will become a socially inclusive community that will be home to 15,000 people and provide 250 units of affordable housing.
- Heat captured from the sanitary sewer’s main line is sent back to heat the buildings and water.
- 50% of the Villages’ roofs are vegetative, capturing rainwater for reuse and curtailing runoff. They also provide insulation value year round and prevention of heat gain from solar radiation in the summer, acting as cool roofs.
- The buildings include traditional and contemporary artwork by Four Host First Nations, First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists from across Canada. This meets one of the requirements of the Living Building Initiative; public art.
- The City of Vancouver is targeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold for the buildings. For the venue’s community centre, LEED “Platinum” is targeted.
- Streets have been designed for pedestrians and bicycles first. Underground parking areas can accommodate car co-op vehicles and electric hookups.
Along the Olympic route there is also the Whistler Vision Net Zero Demonstration House. Built by RDC Fine Homes of Whistler, British Columbia this house is self-sufficient for all energy needs and hopes to achieve LEED Platinum certification. We were pleased to have our CertainTeed WeatherBoards™ Fiber Cement Siding, ProRoc® Gypsum Board with M2Tech® technology and ProRoc Setting Compound with M2Tech used on this project. The house is open to the public throughout the Olympics.
Very public displays of support for renewable energy, net-zero development and sustainable initiatives are great educational opportunities. The test will be how the costs to develop these buildings vs. the life-cycle analysis and long-range savings hold up within the financial community. In the true Olympic spirit, let’s eliminate the barriers of our thinking and work together!
Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications at CertainTeed Corporation.