Olympic Park Going GreenFor the next couple of weeks, the only thing you will see on our living room television is the Winter Olympics.  Luge…daring!.  Freestyle moguls…awesome!  Snowboard cross…cool!  Figure skating…good time to surf the Internet!

Last night, while watching figure skating surfing the Internet, I stumbled upon this article about the Olympic and Paralympic Village in Vancouver having received the highest certification for sustainable community development from the U.S. Green Building Council.  The LEED Platinum certification was announced Mayor Gregor Robertson on Tuesday morning.  According to the article, the Olympic village is the second development in the world to receive Platinum certification. 

Platinum certification was awarded to the $1-billion, 32 hectare South East False Creek neighbourhood development project based on a variety of factors including its proximity to the downtown core, affordable housing, green buildings and habitat restoration. . . .

“If we want to stand up and make Vancouver the greenest city in the world we are going to need some serious resources and aspirations,” said Roger Bayley, design manager for Merrick Architecture, the architects behind the project. “But I have no doubt that [the Village] is going to be profitable.”

The sustainability website inhabitat.com had a great overview of the sustainability features of the Olympic Village almost two years ago.  These included:  solar panels, green roofs, rain water harvesting systems, in-slab hydronic system for heating and cooling of the buildings, and all underground parking.

It is good to see that the Olympic Village attained its goal for LEED certification . . . a Platinum medal in the Olympics of green building.  Local community leaders want to use the Olympic Village as model for sustainable development to help Vancouver become the "greenest city in world."  

The problem? It came at a significant cost.  A $700-million bailout was required from the City in order to finish the construction of the Olympic Village, generating concern for the profitability of future LEED development projects.

The answer? As with many other green building issues, only time will tell.  First, we will have to wait until the end of the Olympics to see how Vancouver transitions Olympic Park into affordable housing for downtown residents.  Next, we will have to watch the performance of the sustainable buildings.  If private development can do it cheaper and faster with the same or comparable performance data, then there may not be the green community development anticipated by local leaders.