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Brussels, 12 January 2006

Greening the Torino Winter Olympics: an EU success story

The upcoming 20th Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Torino in February and March, respectively, will be the first ever truly “green” major sports events in Europe. Both events will achieve this goal by making good use of EU voluntary environmental tools, in particular the EU eco-management and audit system (EMAS) and the European eco-label. At a press conference today, Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas congratulated the representatives of the Torino Winter Olympics Organising Committee (TOROC) for rigorously applying these EU standards and tools from the planning to the execution of work at the Olympic sites. Commissioner Dimas was joined by Professor Valentino Castellani, President of TOROC as well as Professor Mercedes Bresso, President of the Piemonte Region. Cross-country skiing champion Manuela Di Centa, who won two gold, two silver and three bronze medals at the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympic Games and who represents the athletes at the International Olympics Committee, also attended the press conference.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Sports events draw enormous public attention. They also have a long-lasting impact on the environment. The way the Torino Olympic Games have been prepared demonstrates that organisations can use EU environmental tools and guidance effectively to lessen this impact and turn major sports events into an opportunity to raise citizens’ awareness of sustainable development. I hope other organisers of future sporting events will follow suit.”

TOROC President Professor Valentino Castellani said : “TOROC cooperated with the European Commission from the very beginning. We found that the EU environmental tools, EMAS and the European Eco-Label, were the best suited to handle the complex environmental aspects of the Olympics. We decided to adopt them in order to reach our sustainability goals. The Commission helped us throughout the entire process leading up to the Games”.

Ms Mercedes BRESSO, President of Regione Piemonte said “The success of an international sport event is measured by the ability to induce positive effects in the medium and long term on the territory where it takes place. For Torino 2006 we have firstly planned a long-term legacy of development and sustainability. The acknowledgements of the European commission highlight the ability of regional policies to build international examples of best practices”.

A life-cycle approach to the Olympics

Although they only last a few weeks, one-off sports events such as the Olympic Games require several years of large scale developments in terms of infrastructure, facilities and accommodation. They draw intensively upon natural resources such as water, air and soil and can leave behind them a mixed environmental legacy for the region concerned.

For these reasons, the Torino Olympic organising committee decided to adopt a life-cycle approach to the Games, taking into account the existing EU voluntary environmental tools and standards from the very outset. These include:

The health and safety of workers, staff and local inhabitants

The management of waste (generated by the excavations and building sites and to be generated during the Games)

  • The rational use of energy
  • Sustainable mobility
  • The management of water
  • The prevention of natural risks
  • The preservation of the landscape
  • Sustainable architecture
  • Mitigation and compensation measures when environmental damage is unavoidable
  • Greenhouse gases emissions
  • Sustainable use of the facilities after the Games

Applying the EU voluntary environmental tools

The EU’s eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) enables companies and organisations to evaluate, report on and improve their environmental performance. In line with this, the organising committee (TOROC) first obtained EMAS registration at the planning and construction stages for the 29 sites hosting the Games, including the training sites and the Olympic Village. At a second stage, eight municipalities hosting the Games also registered with EMAS. At the European Commission’s request, TOROC has drawn up a guidance document on the implementation of EMAS in sporting events[1], so that other major sporting events may benefit from this experience in the future. The European Commission has provided TOROC with € 25 000 of funding for the production of this document.

The main Olympic Village is a showcase for sustainable architecture, with 39 buildings to house 2 500 athletes. Solar panels have been installed to warm sanitation water, south-oriented glass surfaces optimise sun exposure during winter, low energy light bulbs are in use and rain water is used to irrigate the green areas.

TOROC has promoted the European Eco-label scheme, a voluntary scheme designed to encourage businesses to market more environmentally friendly products and to make it easier for consumers to identify those products thanks to the “Flower” logo. Twelve hotels in the region have been granted the flower label.

The main media village, which will serve as a students’ residence after the games, is in the process of being awarded with the European Eco-label as an example of how to address the sustainable use of facilities once the event is over. It meets the European Eco-label criteria for reduced energy and water consumption, reduced waste production, bio-architectural characteristics, the use of renewable resources and of substances which are less hazardous to the environment. The European Commission has provided TOROC with € 50 000 of funding for the promotion of the European Eco-label in the area.

TOROC has also implemented green procurement – 38% of all products purchased by TOROC comply with eco-criteria such as the European eco-label criteria. In addition, the sponsors have been urged to comply with eco principles and policies.

With the Torino Olympic Games, EU voluntary environmental tools have, for the first time, proved to be operational for large events – and should become standard for future events of this kind.

[1] The guidance document was published in May 2005 and is available on the Internet at

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