How Green is the Summer Olympics 2012 in London?

The Games of the XXX Olympiad – 2012 Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in London, United Kingdom, from 27 July to 12 August 2012.

With the recent flak about American athletes wearing apparel made in China and not made in America, I got curious about the event. (A statement was released by United States Olympics Committee on how it will be impossible to replace the current uniform but promises that in 2014, it will be made in America.) I know London promised Olympics 2012 will be the greenest Olympics in history, but how green will it be and did it meet its original sustainability goals?

International Olympics Committee (IOC) encourages host cities how they should handle environmental impact but does not impose targets. However, “London 2012 embedded sustainability in its planning from the start,” Emmanuelle Moreau, an IOC spokesman stated in Globalpost.com.” According to a report by an independent commission in June, “the ODA matched or beat most of its sustainable development targets, such as those for carbon emissions, waste and energy efficiency.”

And according to the chairman of ODA, John Armitt,

From the outset of the project, the Olympic Park has set new standards in sustainability, including the delivery of lightweight venues, the recycling or reuse of waste materials, using concrete with a high recycled content, and delivering materials by rail or water. We have achieved new standards for a project of this size and scale and have raised the bar for the industry.” - Getset London2012

Here are some facts about London 2012 Summer Olympics.

London 2012 Sustainability Facts

  • 500 acre of derelict industrial areas in East London has been converted for the Olympics and Paraolympics. And a great portion of it provides wildlife habitats for a variety of species of animals, including kingfishers, bats, otters and grass snakes while much of the rest has been left as parkland. An ecology management plan was developed which included translocation 4,000 smooth newts, 100 toads and 300 common lizards as well as fish, including pikes and eels before converting the area into a wildlife sanctuary.
  • Contaminated water and soil on the park’s site were cleaned up, and more than 300,000 wetland plants, 4,000 trees and 130,000 plants and bulbs were planted, providing an inviting new home for wildlife and bringing a touch of nature into the city.
  • 60% of construction materials by weight were delivered by rail or water transport. This reduced vehicle movement and resulting carbon emissions.
  • 90% of construction waste was diverted from landfill and was reused or recycled instead.
  • Olympic Stadium is the most lightweight Olympic Stadium to date, minimizing the use of steel. The roof truss was made out of unwanted gas pipelines, and recycled granite from King George V docks was used for the Stadium’s river banks.
  • Olympic Park was built in part using materials recycled from the buildings that stood on the site before it, and green materials were used throughout the building process.
  • The velodrome was constructed using sustainable wood, and the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium was designed to utilize just 1/10 of the steel that comprised Beijing National Stadium (otherwise known as the “Bird’s Nest”) and in half the cost.
  • During the actual games, food vendors will utilize compostable packaging, and special emphasis will be placed on recycling programs, including the test of a new waste management system by Coca-Cola that may serve as an example for future sporting events.

Not all targets were met, however, as the “organizers failed to generate 20 percent of the park’s energy needs from renewable sources after planners pulled the plug on a large wind turbine and opted for a combined heat-and-power plant fuelled by natural gas instead. But they still managed to meet the overall 50 percent emissions reduction goal by agreeing to help fund the London Mayor’s low-carbon scheme for schools and homes in the communities.”  - Global Post

Even with the fact of missing the renewable energy use target, London 2012 will be the greenest Olympics to date and a model venue that host countries will have to live up to when bidding for the Olympics. Visit  Getset.London2012 for more facts and figures on how sustainable London Olympics 2012 will be.

Source: GlobalPost.com | athleticbusiness.com | getset.london2012.com 
Image by: 2012-london-olympics-news.com

Comments

  1. Karen,
    What an excellent article! My husband and I will be going to London during the Olympics!! It is his native home so this is info that is happily surprising! I will have to pass this article on to him, as he is also a community consultant working in the realm of neighborhood sustainability and attempting to avoid gentrification. I’m sure he will appreciate this post :)
    Thanks

    • Oh, how lucky are YOU!! So jealous!

      And what an awesome position he holds! Can’t wait to hear about your trip!

      Have a great time!

  2. Karen, thanks for this informative post. I visited the site on my trip to London in May and didn’t get to see much of it (it was gated off). I wasn’t that pleased that the focus seemed to be on a brand new upscale and overpriced shopping mall which, given the current UK economy, will be unlikely to be sustained after the games.

    • Thanks Linda,

      I think gentrification and development surrounding the Olympic park and villages is inevitable. I know it did in Korea, and even in downtown Atlanta. But how sustainable it becomes remains to be seen, post-Olympics. Still, I think it’s admirable that once a derelict industrial areas are being converted to a far better natural habitat for animals and plants and better usable space for humans afterwards. Like I said, it might not be perfect, but it sets a precedence for the future Olympics’ host countries to follow. Hopefully, these events will be worth the investment without destroying the environment, but improving it for the future.