London 2012: The game plan

12th July 2012


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A comprehensive environment and sustainability management system was at the heart of all of the London 2012's sustainability efforts ensuring everything went to plan

From the outset, the ODA’s sustainable development strategy set out stringent targets (mirroring the 2012 sustainability plan) in key areas including carbon, water, waste, biodiversity and transport.

To achieve these targets, delivery partner CLM’s environment and sustainability (E&S) team developed a robust Olympic park environment and sustainability management system (ESMS), in line with ISO 14001.

The ESMS, which achieved 14001 certification in June 2008, covered the life cycle of the project through design, procurement and construction of all the venues and infrastructure on the park, and involved regular monitoring and reporting.

“It was an integrated process, not standalone,” says CLM environment and sustainability systems manager, Caroline Richards. “It was embedded through the ODA’s processes and in the culture of everyone working on the park.”

She believes the clarity and leadership provided by the ODA as a client was critical. “It was clear from the start that sustainability was a priority and this message was reiterated throughout,” she says. “A danger on projects is that the original environment and sustainability targets get eroded as designs change and materials are procured.”

To prevent this happening, the ODA embedded and reinforced the targets at every stage, through design, procurement and construction. The E&S team operated as a “matrix” organisation, so that each member was both a “theme manager” (technical experts in particular sustainability areas), as well as acting as a single point of contact (SPOC) for one or more of the project teams.

Start with design

The ODA targets were included in the design briefs, with design key performance indicators (KPIs) categorised into one of the six environment and sustainability objective areas – energy, water, waste, materials, biodiversity and environmental impacts.

The E&S team was then responsible for ensuring each project achieved these KPIs as well as the site-wide performance indicators.

For each of the themes, the E&S team developed implementation guidance documents to instruct the design project teams. These translated the park-wide commitments into project-specific targets and specified the means and metrics for delivery and measurement.

Through the design phase, the E&S team tracked performance via reviews of design briefs and a client design review process. “We checked they were following guidance and meeting targets, and flagged it if not, at each design stage,” says Richards.

“Getting such clear targets embedded into the design briefs is so important,” she adds. “It’s all about getting in early, so that there isn’t a need to retrofit. Once the design briefs are out, it can be too late and then sustainability risks becoming an add-on.”

Mitigating risk

During procurement, the ODA used a balanced scorecard approach, which considered environment and sustainability alongside other criteria, such as cost, time and quality.

One of the biggest challenges facing the ODA in achieving its KPIs was the risk of losing the sustainability elements in the design during the construction process, through contractors’ redesigns, and use of alternative methods and materials.

To guard against this, all the construction KPIs directly reflected the environment and sustainability features incorporated in the client-approved design and took into account UK industry standards. “All the construction-phase contractors appointed were aware of the targets,” says Richards, “and of what the design had to achieve and the need not to compromise that.”

CLM developed broad topical environment management plans setting out how to manage key issues – such as water, waste and noise – across the park. All the principal contractors and subcontractors also had to have their own environment management plans, showing how they were going to manage their various impacts. Communicating all the information to the contractors on the ground was a challenge.

As well as delivering help and advice face-to-face on-site through regular meetings, inspections and via the SPOC system, the E&S team also produced a wide range of guidance to support project teams and contractors just as they had done for the design teams. This supporting information included activity guides in the contractor’s handbook, standards, environmental alerts and posters.

“It was different, depending on the contractor,” explains Richards. “Some needed more support and guidance; they might, for example, be used to traditional environment management, but not so familiar with some of the sustainability tools.”

There was also a concerted effort to embed sustainability and encourage workers at all levels to contribute to the targets and come up with their own innovative suggestions. Activities ranged from reward and recognition events, to training and awareness-raising via posters, bulletins, newsletters and toolbox talks.

“We developed a ‘BE’ campaign, which could be used for ‘be respectful, be considerate or be healthy,” says Darren White, environment and sustainability assurance manager for CLM.

Checks and balances

Although the E&S team evaluated, reviewed and checked plans, documents and performance at the design and procurement stages, the formal auditing programme focused on construction. Principal contractors had to submit monthly data via an online KPI tool, which the team reviewed alongside other information, such as site inspections and audit reports.

The online KPI tool generated project status dashboards providing a red, amber, or green status against each of the themes – red meaning the E&S team needed to step in, amber being “a potential concern” and green signifying that the project was on track. Site inspection and audit tools included a site inspection template reflecting the requirements of the code of construction practice, and audit schedule and findings tracker.

Throughout the construction phase, E&S team members worked to a rigorous regime of fortnightly environmental inspections with the principal contractors, and there was a comprehensive audit schedule covering full environment and sustainability compliance audits as well as specialist audits – for example on timber procurement – and, finally, the close-out audits at the end of the project.

The successes speak for themselves, with the close-out report showing that the ODA achieved or exceeded all its environment and sustainability targets, except on renewables. All the venues beat the target to achieve 15% better than Part L of the 2006 Building Regulations, with the velodrome obtaining an impressive 32%.

The ODA also achieved 98.5% reuse and recycling of demolition material against a target of 90%, and 99% diversion from landfill of construction waste against a 90% target.


Caroline Richards
Environment and sustainability systems manager, CLM

Caroline Richards took up her post as manager of CLM’s environment and sustainability management system (ESMS) in February 2008. She was responsible for the implementation and maintenance of the ISO 14001-certified system.

Like other members of the environment and sustainability (E&S) team, Richards had a dual role. As well as managing the ESMS, she was the single point of contact in the team for structures, bridges and highways, and temporary venues. Initially, this involved working with the design and project teams to ensure environment management requirements and sustainability targets were embedded. Later, it shifted to working with the procurement and construction teams.

She says the dual role of the E&S team was advantageous. “If you had a query on your project outside of your area of expertise, there was always someone to go to. If, for example, I had a question about the use of a material, say on the highways, I could go to our materials specialist. It worked very well,” she comments.“Being part of a team with so much knowledge and experience has certainly helped me broaden my own knowledge and skills.”

A key learning outcome for Richards is the need to have clear sustainability targets and to embed them right from the outset. “Targets need to be incorporated into the design briefs with clear guidance on how they will be monitored,” she explains.

Richards now works as a senior sustainability consultant for CH2M HILL. She has been an AIEMA for more than 10 years and an IEMA-approved environment auditor for more than eight years. She has recently applied to become chartered.


Samantha Connolly
Sustainability assurance manager, CLM

Sustainability specialist Samantha Connolly worked on the Olympic park as sustainability assurance manager for the ODA partner, CLM, between February 2008 and September 2011.

Connolly was responsible for ensuring sustainability was implemented into a number of venues, including the main press centre, handball arena and the velodrome, which is the most sustainable, energy-efficient venue in the Olympic park.

As sustainability assurance manager, Connolly helped create and implement the ODA’s key performance indicators (KPIs) for sustainability, which were aligned with its sustainable development strategy, and for monitoring compliance by analysing data via the programme’s online KPI tool.

“I had to produce monthly and quarterly sustainability progress reports for senior managers and external assurance bodies,” she explains. “We were reporting, analysing and assuring data to monitor compliance and identify risk and opportunity.”

As a qualified BREEAM commercial assessor and CEEQUAL assessor, Connolly was project manager across the park for both tools. She also developed a bespoke sustainability audit tool. Connolly also had to develop and deliver workshops and presentations to project teams and the supply chain, providing practical advice and guidance on implementing sustainability requirements throughout the project life cycle.

Connolly is currently a senior sustainability consultant at CH2M HILL and was recently named Building magazine’s rising sustainability star in recognition of the work done in delivering sustainability in the UK built environment. She is a London 2012 learning legacy ambassador and is in the process of becoming a Full member of IEMA and a CEnv.

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