Internationally, everyone is watching the 2012 Summer Olympics occurring in London. Although the focus is the athletes, it is important to recognize England’s sustainability efforts regarding the venue.
David Stubbs, head of sustainability for the London 2012 Games, claimed that “Sustainability was a key reason why London was chosen.” Britain even agreed to allow an outside organization, the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, to monitor its green efforts.
Once a wasteland and contaminated industrial site, the area has been transformed by the Olympic Village. The original buildings were knocked down and reduced to rubble that was used to supplement building materials in the Olympic Park.
England also had many of the arenas built as temporary structures or with temporary seating extenders. This will allow the venues to reduce their size after the games are over, to provide smaller facilities for the local community. For example, there are detachable wings on the main stadium that adds an additional 50,000 seats.
Outside the stadiums, the Olympic Village was built to mimic a park. Since construction began, they have planted over 300,000 wetland plants, with more than 4,000 trees and 130,000 plants and bulbs. They have also cleaned up the once contaminated local river.
Stubbs claims that they tried to use sustainable or recycled materials as much as possible during construction. For example, cyclists will race on a track made from sustainably-sourced Siberian Pine.
Despite these efforts, the commission and other environmental organizations claim there is still much room for improvement. Specifically: “The CSL is concerned that waste won’t be properly segregated for recycling or reuse. And critics have complained about the influence and role of corporate sponsors.”