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The Green Olympics?

Ok Ok, I have to admit that I got sucked into the Olympics BIG TIME hence not having posted anything for the last three weeks (2 weeks for the Olympics and 1 week suffering from Post-Olympic Depression). Didn’t TeamGB do well, so proud to be British and everything that we achieved from the opening ceremony to the closing ceremony, and all the athletics in between. Can’t believe that our small island came third in the medals table behind the behemoths that are China and the USA. Just goes to show that size doesn’t matter, right?

Anyway, now that I have gotten over my POD (just), I thought I’d write a short post on how London2012 was supposed to be the revolutionary Olympics not just by inspiring future generations and leaving a legacy, but by aiming to be the first really sustainable Olympics. In case you didn’t know, here are some top 10 green Olympic facts:

1. The Olympic stadium is the world’s first recyclable stadium. The stadium includes a third recycled content and it was constructed with less than half the amount of steel and requires 60% less water than comparably sized stadia, making it the lightest and most water efficient Olympic stadium to date.

2. The sustainable VeloPark. The velodrome was constructed using mainly timber (from sustainable sources!) and has a lightweight roof which reduces carbon emissions by limiting the use of steel. It also has rainwater harvesting capabilities to help cut water consumption by 75%.

3. Athletes EcoVillage. The Athletes Village, which housed up to 17,000 athletes, represents the UK’s first sustainable housing development to be built from the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. This means the buildings are 44% more energy-efficient than 2006 building regulations required and boast more than 10,000 sq/m of green roofing. The London Legacy Development Corporation plans to tun the site into a 225-hectare park boasting 45 hectares of bio diverse habitat and a network of pathways, cycle routes and waterways. Let’s hope they can follow through on their plans!

4. Olympian green space. Even though the London legacy Development Corporation has plans for the Olympic Park once the Paralympics have finished, the initial construction of the park included a number of green spaces which saw more than 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 300,000 wetland plants planted to create a beautiful new open green space for London. As mentioned above, the 45 hectares of wildlife habitats included the creating on reed beds, grassland, ponds, woodlands, bird&bat boxes and artificial otter holes.

5. Minimal landfill use. The Olympic Delivery Authority has exceeded its target to reduce waste in construction and demolition as more than 90% of waste is expected to be re-used/recycled and 90% of construction waste can be diverted from landfill.

6. A greener side of McDonalds? Yes that’s right, one of the biggest fast food producers and conglomerates on the planet showed us its greener & ethical side. Not only did McDonald’s require caterers to source food to high environmental,ethical and animal welfare standards, it also kitted out its 2,000 Olympic employees in Wayne Hemingway-designed uniforms made from closed-loop compatible and recyclable materials. McDonald’s expect to roll out the uniforms to its 87,500 employees across the UK this autumn, seriously reducing the amount of clothing waste sent to landfill. Wow.

7. Coke closes loop. Coca-Cola promised to turn all plastic bottles thrown away at the Olympics into 80m new drinks bottles thanks to a new £15m factory developed in partnership with ECO plastics, based in Lincolnshire.

8. Greener Beemers. Who could miss the massive fleet of Olympic branded BMW’s rushing through the near empty Olympic lane ferrying the great and good around the capital to various events. Although the transportation costs could be questioned, BMW’s Olympic fleet included 200 electric vehicles and 400 bicycles. BMW apparently achieved its target of ensuring that its Olympic Games’ fleet did not exceed average emissions of 120 grams of CO2 per km, and also pioneered the use of zero emission technologies.

9. The smart-er Olympics. That’s right, energy monitoring has moved into the 21st Century as EDF used real-time energy monitoring at the Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome, the basketball arena and the aquatics centre as well as Tower Bridge and the London Eye. We can keep track of the energy use at these facilities online and EDF will be offering the service to businesses from the autumn. As an aside, British Gas are offering something similar for residential homes!

10. Working from home – Bonus! Be honest, how many of you used the Olympics as an excuse to “work from home”? Even though the transport network wasn’t half as busy as expected, working from home was very much encouraged as part of the campaign to ensure that the transport network wasn’t over crowded. A number of technologies were embraced to make home working possible and it would appear that due to its success, plenty of firms are now expected to consider emission cutting home-working programmes.

Although EDF weren’t able to launch their bio-fuel Olympic torch on this occasion which would have added another level of sustainability to the fact sheet, these facts in themselves present a great template for future Olympics to go ahead on a sustainable footing. It will be interesting to see whether Brazil will follow suit and whether they can match or even surpass London2012’s achievement, but we shall have to wait four years to find out.

In the meantime, bring on the Paralympics!!

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