The upcoming summer Olympics in London, UK, are being touted as the greenest Olympic and Paralympic games ever, but are the actions being taken living up to all the green hype? According to the latest Pre-Games Sustainability Report (April 2012), which highlights many of the achievements and some of the compromises that had to be made, there are numerous reasons to be proud.
To start, many of the buildings include sustainable features. At the very least, the goal was for the buildings to achieve BREEAM standards, an aim that seems to be on track. To date, the permanent venues of the Olympic Park, Lee Valley White Water Centre, Retail and Academy, and Polyclinic are all set to achieve Very Good or Excellent BREEAM legacies.
Additionally, a solid 10% of the energy needed for the Park will come from renewable sources, including a wind turbine and a biomass boiler that will burn recycled woodchips. This is down from their original goal of achieving 20% of all energy from renewable sources. That said, the goal of achieving 50% carbon reductions is on schedule to be surpassed with an anticipated 58% reduction. Water savings are also ahead of the design goals, with an expected 60% savings compared to the 40% originally planned.
As for construction efficiency, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) reports that their buildings have used a total of 42% recycled aggregate, 34% recycled content, 86% responsibly sourced materials, 100% sustainable timer, and an impressive 100% ban on unhealthy and barred materials. Some specific initiatives taken to ensure greener buildings for the games include the following:
- The Olympic Stadium is the most lightweight to date using minimal steel. It is also constructed with recycled materials such as plastic crates and excess concrete from other areas of the park.
- The Velodrome is 100% naturally ventilated and rainwater is collected for toilets and irrigation.
- Water from pool filters in the Aquatics Centre is used to flush toilets and the whole building is constructed with high-recycled content concrete.
- All of the sport venues for the games will consume at least 40% less water than equivalent buildings.
- 99% of the demolition material generated from existing buildings in the park is being reused or recycled.
- 50% of the construction materials used for constructing the Olympic Park are being shipped by water or rail to reduce transportation emissions.
In all, the sustainability efforts of this year’s games are estimated to generate just 326,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, assuming all reduction activities are a success. Looks like we’re set to have the greenest games ever.