London Olympics: Greenest Games in History

The summer Olympics begin today in London and the $14.5 billion investment is being promoted as the greenest ever.

London’s bid for the Olympics revolved completely around sustainability through the concept, "Towards a One Planet Olympics."

Besides the green building techniques used throughout the process, perhaps most impressive is the organizers’ strategy to use it as an opportunity to clean up brownfields and rejuvenate some inner city areas.

The organizers embedded sustainability from the start, vowing to make the games carbon neutral and create zero waste. An initial assessment informed decisions, such as having trains deliver half the materials to the site, reducing carbon emissions by a factor of five.

The 500-acre Olympic Park is one of the largest urban development projects in Europe. Before construction could start, 200 buildings had to be demolished and the brownfield they sat on cleaned up.

An impressive 99% of the demolition waste from taking down those buildings was reused to build Olympic Park, and giant washing machines cleaned two million tons of contaminated soil – enough to fill Yankee Stadium twice.

When the Games end there will be 2,818 new homes, of which 1,379 will be affordable housing. And the largest new urban park in Europe in 150 years will have wetland habitats and flood protection.

Olympic London Queen Park

Energy & Water: Olympic Park’s state-of-the-art Energy Centre is a modular building that can expand if more capacity is needed when it powers a neighborhood after the Games. It runs on a biomass-powered Combined Heat and Power plant, which captures heat generated by electricity production. Although the exterior looks like brick it’s actually recycled, crushed steel from demolished buildings.

Buildings throughout Olympic Park are designed to maximize natural ventilation and minimize air conditioning.

30-40% less water will be used in all the buildings for drinking and irrigation by recycling wastewater recycling and captured rainwater.

Food: caterers are required to buy sustainably sourced fish and to use stringent environmental standards in all the food they source.

Waste: 99% of all waste in demolition and construction has been re-used or recycled. Food packaging that can’t be recycled is made from compostable materials, much of which will go into anaerobic digesters to produce renewable energy.

Olympics London

Olympic Stadium

The lightest Olympic Stadium ever built, it seats 80,000 people. Part of the roof’s supporting structure is made from 2500 tons of steel tubes recycled from old gas pipelines.

Aquatics Centre

The second largest building after the main Olympic Stadium, its  concrete exterior is built with pre-cast blocks, eliminating the need for paint. The interior ceiliing is made from sustainably sourced Red Lauro timber.

Basketball Arena

This temporary 12000 seat- building is designed to be de-constructed after the Games and used elsewhere. Its light design minimized the amount of steel and concrete needed.

Copper Box

This 7000-seat handball arena has lighting pipes on the roof that reduce electricity use 40% and the exterior is made from recycled concrete and copper.

ArcelorMittal Orbit Olympic London Tower

Made from 60% recycled steel, this 4500-foot-tall observation tower is in the center of Olympic Park. Visitors get panoramic views of up to 20 miles by taking an elevator to the top.

Learn more:

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Comments on “London Olympics: Greenest Games in History”

  1. Joe

    I’ll bet they learned a lot and can teach a lot. There should be a way to contrast this formidable undertaking against the suffocating deceit of Romney and the Republican party and their cowardly, business as usual, wealthy supporters. Cough.

  2. Mike

    Thanks for naming the picture of the observation tower “red thing” so it came up in the google image search I ran. I had no idea what it was.


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