London 2012 misses out on gold medal for sustainability

13th August 2012

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  • Waste ,
  • Reporting ,
  • Construction ,
  • Mitigation



London 2012 is the most sustainable Olympic and Paralympic games yet, but the failure of its main renewable energy project has meant that it did not meet its full potential, according to WWF and BioRegional

In a report examining London 2012’s progress against its 76 sustainability commitments, drawn up with both the NGOs’ support in 2005, WWF and BioRegional praise the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the games’ organising committee (Locog) for already achieving 34 of the commitments and making good progress on another 30, including diverting 98.5% of construction waste from landfill and reducing the embodied carbon of the venues through more efficient designs.

The report highlights the important role the ODA’s environment management system played in ensuring waste targets were met, and argues that carbon footprinting had been a key strategic tool in reducing emissions and that the method used could become the standard for all such major projects in future.

However, the report suggests that more progress could have been made and cites the failure of the planned wind turbine project and, as a consequence, meeting the games’ original 20% renewable energy target, as particularly disappointing.

Changes in health and safety legislation were blamed for the abandonment of the turbine project, but the report concludes that “with the right planning and will this could possibly have been overcome”.

WWF and BioRegional also contend that more could have been done to find alternatives to increase renewable generation at the site, saying that the decision to retrofit local buildings to meet the carbon reduction targets was a lost opportunity to use government support to create a significant renewable project.

London 2012 has set the sustainability bar for future summer Olympics,” said Sue Riddlestone, BioRegional’s executive director. “It has built venues and staged an event that has set new standards for resource efficiency and which cut carbon and saved money.

“That said, London 2012 should have pushed sustainability more and had a stronger focus on changes beyond the Olympic park. It is important that lessons are learned and that a commitment to sustainability is a key criterion by which the 2020 summer Olympics bids are judged.”


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