2012 Olympics: Leaner, Greener & Cleaner

The 2012 Summer Olympics kick off this evening in London, England and I couldn’t be more excited! My Team USA spirit is soaring, as I am sporting my USA soccer jersey and gearing up to watch the Opening Ceremonies tonight with my freshly-baked red, white & blue chocolate chip cookies. 205 countries and over 10,000 athletes are competing on the world’s largest sporting arena and I have been obsessed with all things Olympics for the past month.

London is hosting the games for the third time, something no other city in the world can boast – the first 2 times just in the 20th century alone. Having plenty of experience, the London Olympic Committee seems to be hitting the mark for these events on sustainability. Every detail of the 500-acre Olympic Park has taken into account environmental concerns, prompting 2012 organizers to bill it as the first sustainable Olympics, a key factor in deciding to give London the bid to host once again. Head of the Sustainability, David Stubbs, commented, “It’s not about two weeks … It is what this site will be like 20 to 30 years down the road.”  The concerns for the games’ impact on the long-term local environment is evidence enough to understand their approach and mind-frame for the overall big picture.

The committee seems to have thought through the before, during and what I think is most important, after details, processes, uses and construction of the facilities. While their practices are probably not perfect, leaner, greener and cleaner could be London 2012’s motto as sustainability and ecology are pushed to the forefront.

Olympic Sustainability Highlights:

  • In addition to over 300,000 wetland plants, organizers have planted more than 4,000 trees and 130,000 plants and bulbs.
  • From the buildings that were knocked down, all that rubble was sort of crushed up and used as the fillings of these gabions for the new bridges.
  • There’s a huge emphasis on reuse and recycling and this is the first Olympics to shun landfills. So where to dispose of the thousands of 8+ tons of rubbish that the Games will generate in the form of discarded bottles, food packaging and general litter? In the 4,000 color-coded recycling bins that dot the park.
  • A variety of technologies have been deployed to save water and reduce the amount of potable water consumed for the 362 toilet blocks.
  • The River Lea and several canals which wend their way through the park used to be badly polluted. Today, after an intensive program of clearing and widening, wildlife is being encouraged to return.
  • Constructed using just a tenth of the steel required to build Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest”, the Opening Ceremony stadium weighs in at just 4,500 tons, becoming the lightest Olympic Stadium ever built
  • The Aquatics Center has been temporarily adorned with “wings” providing seating for 15,000 spectators but after the games end, they will bring it down to 2,500 seats, as it turns into a facility for the local community.

 Sustainability Articles:

Too many times we watch millions and millions of dollars being dumped into a city that hosts the Olympics, only to find out later these building are too expensive to lease, too costly and large to maintain and eventually the whole Olympic Park goes abandoned. I know for me personally, it makes it easier watching such an enormously expensive event knowing that there is an “after” plan and the impact of these games have been taken into considerable thought. Go Team USA!

Live green, love green,
Katherine

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