In the rings: BC Hydro electrifies Olympic fans

BC Hydro gives locals and tourists the chance to see energy conservation come alive at its Power Smart Village and check out the Home of the Future.

Justin Timberlake may be pretty hot, but Olympic fans were generating a bit of their own heat dancing to ‘Sexy Back’ at the BC Hydro Power Smart Village’s ‘Club Energy’ yesterday in downtown Vancouver.

As an official supporter of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, the ‘sustainable dance floor,’ as the utility calls it, is a feature in its Olympic activation, built as a part of its home office in the city. Club Energy is one of the most popular activities, featuring a dance floor that generates energy as people expend theirs on fancy footwork. The more the dancers boogie, the more kilowatts are produced.

‘Electricity isn’t really that exciting, so you have to draw people in and then bring forward the educational component,’ Simi Heer, media relations advisor, BC Hydro, explained to MiC in a venue tour yesterday. ‘So with the dance floor, the message is that it’s hard to generate electricity, so be efficient in how you use it.’

The Power Smart Village is actually an extension of a campaign that started last summer for the utility’s educational ‘Power the Games’ tour of 100 BC communities. The Power Smart Village, developed by BC Hydro, uses much of the same marketing collateral, but with a host of fun new interactive features.

People can check out the Home of the Future, built out of repurposed shipping containers and including futuristic GE appliances with intelligent energy-use features. The site also features a chill-out tent with Adirondack chairs made out of sustainable wood and a giant flat-screen TV for sports. Soon, the home’s ‘driveway’ will feature a Chevrolet Volt, as part of the utility’s partnership with GM.

Inside BC Hydro’s foyer, visitors can meet with Olympic artist-in-residence George Hemeon, who has carved two giant ‘welcome figures’ that will remain in the building for years to come. Off to the side is a colouring area and a digital graffiti wall where kids can use infrared ‘markers’ to scrawl a message to Canadian athletes.

But it was the Club Energy floor that was most popular with the under-five set. Building a family-friendly exhibit was a priority, Heer explains. ‘We find that children are our biggest ambassadors. They learn about conservation, and then they go home and they teach it to grown-ups. So it makes sense to do something interactive so you’re not just talking to them, but really helping them work through the process and learn more.’