Rio 2016 Olympic organisers promise greenest Games yet

By Ed King

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will have the theme of sustainability at its core, the city’s Secretary of State for Culture has told RTCC.

Speaking at the Brazilian cultural embassy next to the River Thames, Adriana Rattes said she hoped Rio could build on London’s legacy as a ‘green’ games.

“What I hope will happen is that the Olympics will commit the politicians with the idea of city sustainability,” she said.

“It will help us to clean places like the Guanabara, lagoons, the beaches because this is now an official commitment of the Brazilian govt, so in this way I think the Olympic Games will help us a lot.”

Producing a ‘green’ Games was a core goal of the 2012 organisers, and while it is (currently) impossible to run a carbon zero event of this size, the aim was to run one that produced 50% fewer emissions than a ‘business as usual’ scenario.

London’s Olympic Park incorporated wind turbines, solar panels, recycled shipping containers and venues that can be taken down and reused, instead of being sent to landfill.

Spectators were encouraged to take public transport wherever possible, and although bike parking facilities were woeful, they were at least matched by a paucity of spaces for people to leave their cars.

More than two million tonnes of contaminated soil were removed and cleaned – and a ‘quintessential’ English meadow together with a ‘rare wet woodland’ are legacies of these Games.

One major concern for the 2016 organisers will be traffic. The recent Rio+20 Earth Summit demonstrated the city’s inability to deal with large numbers of travellers.

One journey I took during the conference from Copacabana Beach to the main conference centre took three hours due to the congested roads, and the metro network does not currently extend to the Barra area where the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome and Aquatic Centre will be located.

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A Bus Rapid Transit system is currently being built in this area, but Rattes admitted that the city has much work to do over the next four years to ensure it can cope with a massive influx of vistors.

“The transport was horrible [at Rio+20], but the other most important commitment is to invest a lot of money in the next few years to have a really good transport system in Rio,” she said.

“Since the bid for the Olympics and also because of Rio+20 everything we are planning and all the infrastructure is starting to be conceived in terms of green.

“For instance we are building two very important buildings in Rio – one is the new public library – the other is the new museum of image and sound.

“Both are huge buildings and they are both green – sustainable. They both have the gold certificates (for environmental standards) so everything now is starting to be conceived in terms of green.

“It’s a long way we have in front of us but I think things will be better now in terms of sustainability.”

VIDEO: Rio architects explain how local favelas have inspired them to experiment with recycled materials

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