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The Winter Olympics go all in for sustainability in 2018

February 15, 2018

By Abby Karp

The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Committee (POCOG) has made a stand for green (energy, that is) in that coldest season traditionally associated with snow. This year’s Olympic events mark the first winter games to receive the ISO 20121 certification for sustainability.

South Korea has pulled out the stops to make the most of improvements in public transportation and electric vehicles. Additionally, as Dawn Selak, communications manager of the ACEEE reports, the POCOG’s efforts extend to maximizing Olympic building energy efficiency as well.

Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Green

Green is the new gold for PyeongChang 2018. Efficiency in construction and renewable energy lead South Korea’s initiative to apply green standards to the Winter Olympics. The color symbolizes commitment to sustainability at the practical level, of transportation, power generation, and efficiency in building construction and operations.

FacilityExecutive.com reported that POCOG partnered with Dow Chemical Company to install innovative insulation and keep the flow of heat under full control. The buildings that host winter sports must maintain significant temperature differences in neighboring spaces while keeping costs down. Structures such as the Ice Arena require that the ice for events stays cold without discomfort to audiences and officials.

PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics power by the numbers

ISO 20121 – The ISO gave its Event Sustainability Management System Award after verification that the venues maximize sustainability and minimize waste. PyeongChang is only the third Olympiad to achieve ISO 20121, the summer games in London and Rio won it previously.

Building designed for low energy impact – All of the new-built facilities were designed to maximize energy efficiency. The construction of the Sliding Center, Ice Arena, Hockey Center and the Olympic Village, were all designed to meet South Korea’s green energy certification standards (G-SEED). Certification under G-SEED rates how buildings consume energy and reduce pollutants.

Reduced carbon omissions – The Olympic villages and sporting venues cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18,000 tons. The POCOG achieved the reductions through efficient design, construction, and operations, as well as renewable energy.

Self-sustaining renewable energy – Solar, wind, and geothermal energy contribute twelve percent of the nearly 203MW of power generated locally and from provincial resources.

The IOC declares its stance on sustainability

The enthusiasm for green that South Korea brought to the games this year aligns perfectly with the thinking of the International Olympic Committee on sustainability. The IOC has adopted sustainability as one of the pillars of its mission, to promote sports in service to humanity, going forward.

The design and execution of PyeongChang 2018, which minimize heating losses and renewable energy sources, represent the essential challenges to modern building energy management on a grand scale. The knowledge and experience gained deploying the energy resources for this exciting event will influence design and management of future sustainable structures around the world.

Like the flickering flame that signifies the occasion, the Olympic Spirit should shine like a torch that illuminates ideals, values, and best practices for the peoples of the world. In the commitment to going green, the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Committee has demonstrated leadership and initiative that will raise the bar in sustainability practices for institutions around the globe and for years to come.


Abby Karp

Abby joined Lucid’s marketing team in 2014 after conducting research on the decision-making processes of environmental behavior. Abby graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in Environmental Studies and Conservation Psychology.