As the curtain falls on the London 2012 Olympic Games it will not just be Team GB’s performance that we will be left analysing, as the entire legacy of the event will be placed under scrutiny. One area that will be looked at especially closely is the sustainability of the Games, as this was one of the main principles underpinning the planning and construction.
Having vowed to deliver the most sustainable Olympics ever held, let’s take a look at how London has done in terms of providing a Games that looks after the environment as much as it does its athletes.
The London Games were held in numerous venues, all of which were purpose-built for the Olympics with sustainability in mind. Yet how can you make the construction of these massive arenas (the Olympic Stadium holds 80,000) without significantly impacting on the environment?
The primary affects on the environment incurred during a construction process are brought about by the materials used and the transportation of those materials. With this in mind, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) worked extremely hard to ensure that as much of the building materials as possible had been recycled, while 60% of those materials were transported by rail or water – reducing vehicle movement significantly.
The Olympic Stadium is in fact the lightest ever constructed, with the roof truss made entirely from re-used gas pipes. The Velodrome is also a model of sustainability, with natural light, rain harvesting, close to 100% natural ventilation and sustainably sourced timber. However the Aquatics Centre is all concrete and steel and does not quite meet the high standards set by the Olympic Stadium and the Velodrome.
A beautiful setting for the sporting venues, the Olympic Parklands are the centre piece of the efforts of LOCOG to deliver an eco-friendly Games. The development of the land included the planting of an incredible 4,000 trees, 60,000 bulbs, 74,000 plants and 300,000 wetland plants.
Along with the abundance of plant life that has been introduced to the park, up to 45 hectares of habitats have been created to help encourage wildlife such as reed beds, grasslands, ponds, weed lands, as well as bird and bat boxes and artificial otter holts.
A major overhaul of the local waterways was also undertaken, with a multi-million pound dredging programme initiated to clean up the water and therefore produce a healthier living environment for wildlife.
Far and away the most controversial aspect of the London Olympics, the sponsorship deals that have been arranged for the games are with some of the biggest multi-nationals in the world. Critics have argued that fast food companies (McDonalds) and fizzy drinks manufacturers (Coca Cola) shouldn’t be sponsors at a major sporting event that is supposed to encourage a new generation to take up sport, but it is the sponsorship with BP and Dow Chemical that has produced the most chagrin. The former was responsible for the worst oil spills of all time following an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, while a Dow Chemical pesticide plant leaked gas that caused the deaths of thousands of people in Bhopal, India, during the 1980s.
However, the London Games demonstrated that even big corporations can show concern towards the environment, with BMW providing hybrid cars and McDonalds working hard to ensure the food it provided was sourced from local produce.
A key element of the London 2012 Olympic Games was the transition from rural and farming life to the industrial revolution, ironic considering the environmental implications that came with it. Yet the London Games have done incredibly well at delivering an Olympics that shows the rest of the world that a major sporting event doesn’t have to harm the environment.
This guest blog was written by John Rooney on behalf of SolarTech, experts in renewable technology solutions for your home.