The Olympic Games in London were acknowledged as the “greenest.” What about Sochi?

Olga Podosenova

Ecologists acknowledged the Olympic Games in London as the “greenest” in the Olympic history. Organizers of the London-2012 Olympics achieved the best successes in reduction of the carbon dioxide (СО2) emission. Is there any chance that Sochi would overcome London by this index?

While organizers of the London Olympic Games failed to fulfill their promise to construct their own source of renewable energy, countering СО2 emission is going quite successfully in the Misty Albion, representatives of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believe. Organizers made an assessment of the carbon trace of the Olympics yet at the planning stage and found out that half of all CO2 emissions are caused by the construction of Olympic facilities.

Thanks to such assessments, organizers focused on selecting construction materials with low carbon trace; lightweight construction design; and maximal exploitation of provisional facilities. This resulted in reduction of carbon trace by 38% for the stadium construction; by 10% in construction of the water sports facilities; by 15% in the cycling ground construction; and 14% in development of supporting facilities, bridges and roads. In addition to that Brits managed to reduce construction expenses.

Organizers of the London Olympics stuck to their other “green commitment” to reduce 50% of so-called “exploitation” emissions. It is carried out not only at the account of reduction of the facilities’ energy consumption, but also due to investments in the energy efficiency of the nearby constructions, mostly residential buildings.

As far as the green ambitions of Olympics-2014 are concerned, Sochi has little to boast of. However, there already is there what to compare. The Olympic Village in London was created at the account of recultivation and greening of earlier unusable technogenic territories. Construction of the sports facilities in Sochi is taking place in the territory of exceptional natural reserves. Millions of cubic meters of unique Caucasian woods were cut down because of the Olympics…

Advertising commercials of the Olympstroy GC tell about “dozens of projects targeted at reduction of the negative environmental impact of the massive Olympic construction.” According to the organizers, in the first place, these are “compensational and rehabilitation measures. An efficient system of construction waste management is being established at the resort; construction of the Olympic facilities is carried out with consideration of international and Russian “green” standards’ requirements. For example, stadiums in the Olympic Park are constructed with utilization of energy saving glass and LED bulbs. A special water pipe is constructed for lawn watering; it allows using for technical needs rain and melt waters instead of drinking water. Furniture sets for the rooms in Olympic hotels are made of certified timber legally produced with no damage to the nature.”
According to the information of the Sochi Olympics’ organizers, the construction program foresees increasing capacities of the Sochi, Adler, and Kudepsta TEPSs in order to provide with energy supply for the Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi in 2014. This way, no less than 1000 MWt will be produced in Sochi. According to the organizers, “Sochi will turn into the major energy producing city in the region by 2014.”

According to the Sochi Civic Chamber expert, Vladimir Plis, design calculations for energy facilities showed that energy development plans for the Sochi Olympics will lead to 13.07 time increase of the amount of fuel consumed; 10.5 time increase of nitrogen oxides emissions; 10.7 time increase of carbon dioxide emissions, and 13 time increase of the carbon monoxide emissions. With that, the accumulated ratio of energy efficiency will not exceed 56.6 %, while no less than 500 ha of deciduous forests will be needed for regeneration of the carbon dioxides.

However, Sochi has an energy alternative. In the opinion of V. Plis, electrical power stations should be constructed in the less ecologically vulnerable neighboring regions, while the energy efficiency of the electrical power stations could be enhanced by 80% at the account of using the heat they produce for warming green houses in winter and spring and fruit and vegetable preservation in summer and fall. It would be also good to remember that, unlike the Misty Albion, Sochi is one of the sun-rich regions; there are examples of stable production of solar power here at the account of PV panels. The wind resources are also quite substantial in the mountains. Could it be that Sochi still has its chance to “turn green?”