How Green are the Sochi Games? Winning the honor to host the Olympic Games brings with it a great responsibility to build all necessary sporting venues, manage visitors' travel, handle all the waste and recycling and too many other considerations to list that have a big impact on the environment. Sustainability is not a new idea for the Olympics and the Russians are trying to incorporate it into their Games.
According to the Sochi Games website, the 2014 Winter Olympics are being hosted as Zero Waste, sending the least amount of waste (including construction waste) to a landfill as possible. They boast that the Games will be "In Harmony with Nature." Russians also adhered to Green Building Standards, installing solar panels and attempting to be carbon neutral.
However, according to MIT and Blue and Green Tomorrow, all the green intentions did not quite make it on the ground. Not all CO2 emissions were accounted for and perhaps even some illegal dumping occurred to keep trash from landfills.
Additionally, there are concerns about the environmental impact of harvesting materials for construction. Deutsche Welle conducted an interesting interview with Vladimir Kimayev, a member of the organization "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus." He saw first-hand some major negative impacts of harvesting trees for wood bound for the Olympic campus construction site. Read their full story here. In the same article, it is mentioned that reforestation is being attempted: planting one tree for each tree cut down. The new saplings, however, will not be native species.
The Russians are making a good effort to keep their Olympic Games as green as they can. The Sochi Games website states that because of the green building standards they learned about during construction, a new national standard is being put in place and three buildings are already going through the process. There will be naysayers at every corner. Being green sometimes just means putting forth the effort and doing your best. Any sort of press about the topic increases awareness.