London 2012 Olympics – Pavement Facts and Sustainability

The London 2012 Olympics 8th day has begun and the first week has already been filled with great successes, several broken records and honourable defeats.

It was back on 6th July 2005 that it was announced that London would be hosting the Games in 2012, and so much was planned and built after that.

I work in London, so I tried to gather information on how eco-friendly the London 2012 Games are just by looking around me.

During the past couple of weeks I have noticed Olympics facts posters have been stuck to the pavements around Holborn (and perhaps other areas that I haven’t visited recently). These are the ones I found:

London Olympics 2012 Facts Poster – High Holborn

“Within the Olympic Park, more than 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 300,000 wetland plants were planted to create a new open green space for London.”

I took this picture in High Holborn during my sunny lunch break yesterday and you can see an Olympics volunteer or “Games Maker” on the left. There are about 70,000 Games Makers for these Olympics so they are easy to spot in their official gear.

London Olympics 2012 Pavement Facts – Gt. Russell Street

This pavement poster was in Great Russell Street and there were more in Tottenham Court Road.

Some posters’ facts were about the size of the Olympic Park and about the nearby British Museum.

Olympics 2012 British Museum Facts – Gt. Russell St.

I was able to find out about plants and animals, which is great, however what about all the energy needed to bring the Games to life? Are these Games the most environmentally friendly Games yet?

The official page for the Games states that the ODA, Olympic Delivery Authority, responsible for building the Olympic Park tried to reduce its construction’s impact to the people living nearby.

I had a look at the PDF document from November 2009 that they linked on the page and it explains that while building they were talking into consideration the importance of sustainability and particularly:

  • Using less energy: Energy-efficient technology in the new Olympic Park Energy Centre would provide electricity, heating, cooling and hot water, a biomass boiler would burn recycled woodchips to generate power, 20% of energy used on the Olympic Park would be from renewable sources and a 120m wind turbine in the Park would generate enough energy for 1,000 homes
  • Protecting wildlife: They did surveys of plants and animals living in the area and cleaned out all the rubbish that was in the Olympic Park’s area waterways
  • Managing the quality of air and water
  • Reducing waste: They reused some materials on the Olympic Park, including soil that was washed and shaken to get rid of pollutants and then reused on site, also the Greenway which runs through the park used old cobble stones which were already on the Olympic site.

Some of the steps that have been taken are brilliant and really show the effort to make these the greenest Olympic Games to date, and other make me wonder if they could have done more.

Washing the contaminated soil and reusing it once clean meant that a lot of energy was saved as they didn’t have to dump the dirty soil somewhere and then use so much energy to transport more soil into the building site.

-You can find more information about decontaminating the soil in the Metro article which also includes that they have recently realised that the energy provided from renewable sources for the Games is more like 11% rather than 20%.-

However I also think:

-If they installed a 120m wind turbine that can generate a lot of energy, couldn’t they build more than one? It’s probably a very naive supposition as I am not aware of how complicated it might be to build one, but I just wish the strong winds that blow here were used to make clean energy more.

-One of the Olympics volunteers was saying how shocked he was at the food wasted on site: can’t there be more attention dedicated to managing this effectively and waste less food?

Here are more links for additional information on the Olympics eco-friendliness on how people are encouraged to recycle and walk, cycle or take public transport, including those very futuristic electric double-decker buses I’ve seen, to the Olympic Games:

Some of the facts and figures needed to really assess how green these Games are will only be available and accurate once the Games have finished, so for now I will carry on enjoying watching the Olympics and looking out for more green Olympics news.

Have you seen any green Olympics facts posters around?

Have you been to the Games? What did you see that struck you as being an effort to make these Games the most sustainable possible?

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6 thoughts on “London 2012 Olympics – Pavement Facts and Sustainability

  1. I haven’t been to any events but have so enjoyed watching the coverage and getting in the spirit. I used to live in Westminster so would definitely have gone to watch events if we were still there. Given the amount of people that have descended on the city, I think the place is coping very well and it’s great to see so many green initiatives in place – I do hope it ends up having the desired effect 🙂

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    • Hey Philippa! 🙂
      Yes I’ve thouroughly enjoyed watching the Games so far too, I feel really engrossed in it all!
      Living in Westminster must have been magical, I’d love to be that close to the river…
      Yes it seems like they made an effort to make these Games green, and so they should as a good example of the Games of the future! We’ll see how it all goes after the Games 🙂

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