What's the Green Outlook for the 2016 Olympics?

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Four major cities are currently bidding to host the 2016 Summer Olympics: Chicago, Madrid, Rio De Janeiro and Tokyo. But which has the greenest plan? While we may be biased towards the only U.S. city in the running, each has its own merits.

According to a report by USA Today, Chicago “organizers tout a low-carbon ‘blue-green’ event, with most venues along Lake Michigan, which is lined with parks, and a focus on environmentalism.”

Chicago would also provide:

  • Vehicles that run on low-carbon fuels or electricity
  • Event sites powered by renewable energy
  • Storm water collection for reuse
  • Use of recyclable or reusable products at Olympic venues
  • Adherence to green building standards, including buildings which coexist with natural habitat
Chicago's Olympic Stadium, designed specifically for the 2016 Olympic Games, will rest on 100 acres in historic Washington Park. - Chicago2016.org

Chicago's Olympic Stadium, designed specifically for the 2016 Olympic Games, will rest on 100 acres in historic Washington Park. - Chicago2016.org

“We’ve got a real opportunity to take the best aspects of our city, the parks, the lakefront and the environmentalism and bring a real asset to the table,” Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said. “It’s certainly one of the great strengths of the city of Chicago that we have to offer.”

Tokyo is aiming for a zero-waste Olympics. The largest city in Japan’s plans include green initiatives from it’s metropolitan government, such as:

  • Powering all Olympic-related facilities with “green energy” sources such as wind, solar, waste incineration and other energy sources that do not rely on nuclear or fossil fuel
  • Designing the main stadium’s roof to be covered with solar panels generating enough electricity to power 1,000 households
  • Providing fuel-cell and electric vehicles for the games

Madrid promises to promote bicycle use and Rio De Janeiro says 3 million trees would be planted in nearby rain forests to offset carbon emissions.

While the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) main considerations will be for the welfare of the participating athletes and the financial plans of the host city, these green plans won’t hurt their chances of being chosen. The IOC will choose the host city in October.

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