Winter Olympic Games Focus on Energy Efficiency

This month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are the first winter Olympics to receive the ISO 20121 certification. ISO 20121, known as the Event Sustainability Management System, is a standard designed to help organizations improve sustainability throughout an entire event management cycle, which includes event-related activities, products and services. It covers 11 functional areas, including sustainability, accessibility, people management, cleaning and waste, procurement, transportation, and security.

"From the bidding stage of the Games, the Organizing Committee was faced with sustainability-related concerns," said Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the Winter Olympics. "Nonetheless, with this sustainability management system, we are confident to leave a lasting legacy by applying sustainability practices."

Among the electrical-related sustainability features are an energy-efficient high-speed railway, electric vehicles (EVs) and energy-efficient buildings.

The Wonju-Gangneung High-Speed Railway was constructed to connect the Incheon International Airport (Seoul) to PyeongChang (the site of the games). The energy-efficiency rail system has a carbon footprint one-eighth of a gasoline rail system.

The games also feature 4,100 hydrogen fuel-cell EVs and buses. The buses also feature an electronic system that monitors driver alertness. If drivers are negligent in keeping their eyes forward, indicating possible tiredness or drowsiness, the system will sound an alarm.

The bus stops along the way also feature the latest technologies, including LED screens at the stops, allowing visitors to get information on bus routes and times.

One of the highlights of the games was supposed to be the launch of 1,280 drones, outfitted with LED lights and controlled through an automated software program, during opening ceremonies. However, a last minute "impromptu logistical challenge" (concern over high winds) cut that plan short, according to International Olympics Committee spokesperson Mark Adams.

Not all was lost. In a test, the 1,280 drones were launched in December in PyeongChang. The event broke a Guinness Book of World Records for the "most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously." Each drone weighed about as much as a volleyball and was fitted with LED lights that could beam any shape, with four billion color combinations. The resulting December light show was recorded, and this was what viewers on television around the world saw at the opening of the games.

Still, actual attendees will be able to see some drones. There are plans to launch 300 drones at the end of the ceremony, hovering about 400 feet off the ground.

However, LED lights did receive their due in a completely unexpected way. During the opening ceremonies, an LED light show that blanketed the entire stadium was so bright that it appeared to erase the crowds in their seats, causing social media around the world to light up with questions as to why so few people were in actual attendance at the event.

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