Sustaina-lympics

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London 2012 is expected to be the most environmentally friendly and sustainable Olympics and Paralympics ever. Science Editor Claire Critchley looks at how the organisers and participants in London 2012 are aiming to accomplish this.

London 2012 is being hailed as the biggest and best Olympic and Paralympic Games yet. Whilst it is common knowledge that the bid won based on its promises to deliver a worldwide spectacle that will inspire and encourage more people into sport the world over. Also well publicised are the aims for the first time to fully integrate the Olympics and Paralympics and create a long lasting legacy, yet an integral part of the winning bid for is based on delivering the most sustainable and eco-friendly games yet.

Here are the key facts:

  • 100% of spectators will walk, cycle or use public transport to the Olympic Park as there is no onsite spectator parking.
  • The Olympic Park will be built on brownfield land
  • Secure bike parking has been provided at all competition venues
  • The Olympic Park is the biggest new urban park created in Europe for 150 years with 4000 trees, 60 000 bulbs and 300 000 wetland plants
  • 14 million sustainably sourced meals will be served
  • Games maker uniforms are made from 100% recycled materials
  • Every cup of tea and coffee is Fairtrade certified
  • Recycling bins will be provided to try and produce zero waste directly into landfill
  • All competition venues used will be removable and recycled or have a purpose after the event or already pre-existing e.g. Lords Cricket Ground and Wimbledon

The Olympic Park which is home to nine venues is brownfield land which means it has been contaminated through previous use. Brownfield sites are often overlooked when looking for suitable sites for development because the cleanup can be very expensive and time consuming and it provides no additional financial gain.  To prepare the site more than 200 buildings were demolished and official figures state that “98% of the materials have been reclaimed, recycled or reused”. During the cleanup process around 1.4 million cubic tonnes of soil was excavated. This soil was washed and sieved to remove petrol, oil, tar, arsenic and lead, therefore making it safe to reuse on the Olympic Park to create more gentile slopes providing better accessibility particularly for prams and wheelchairs.

The build has been minimised its carbon footprint wherever possible. One way this has been achieved is by the utilised the waterway to transport materials via barge taking materials right to the heart of the site reducing the need for more new roads. There have also been incentives for its employees to use public transport to get into work and the reusing and recycling of construction materials. Whilst the formation of the urban park provides not only aesthetic value but also helps offset the carbon by taking in carbon dioxide released.

These are just a few of the ways London 2012 is becoming the most sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games ever, however the ideas and planning are one thing implementation of these schemes to all the millions involved is another. Only time will tell how green London 2012 has been.

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