The London 2012 Olympics are just around the corner and the world will be watching as the capital of the UK holds the biggest sporting event in the global calendar. But what lengths are the holders going to in order to be sustainable? With this in mind, we thought you might like to hear about seven green facts from the most environmentally friendly games in the history of the Olympiad.
1. It’s unquestionable that London’s biggest green legacy once the games has passed will be the notion that an old, polluted and disused area of east London has been completely regenerated for future generations to safely enjoy.
The entire site is colossal, a whopping 2.5 square kilometres in total (as you can see above). Before the project began the site had contaminated soil, now there are 3,000 new trees and thousands of flowers specially selected to represent every continent.
2. The River Lea runs right through the site, winding its way around the Olympic stadium. An interesting fact is that specially created otter homes have been installed along the river at the site to increase the species recovery across the British Isles. So if you are lucky enough to get a ticket to one of the events, make sure you keep an eye out for otters wading their way down the river!
3. The site has its own combined cooling, heat and power plant (CCHP) which incorporates a biomass boiler fuelled by sustainable wood pulp and natural gas. This will provide heating, cooling and electricity to all buildings on the Olympic Park and the Athletes Village, in total, approximately 11% of the energy used to power the site will be from renewable sources.
4. To save money, 95% of the vital soil on the Olympic site was actually cleaned! No joke, five ‘soil washing machines’ were installed on the site to save money on transportation costs (taking tonnes of soil to and from the site). But how does this washing machine work? Contaminants stick to fine particles inside the machine which in turn form into cakes of waste, these cakes can then be transported to landfill sites. Who would have thought you could wash soil?!
5. Time to head back to the River Lea. Before the site was built Lord Chris Smith (chairman of the Environment Agency) said:
‘I think the biggest challenge for us was the River Lea, making sure that the quality of the water was going to be better, the banks were going to be much more amenable and usable by the public and also helping to secure some benefit in terms of reducing flood risk.’
These plans eventually reduced the flood risk to 4,000 homes in West Ham and Canning Town (close to the site) – GREEN!
6. The Olympic stadium has a lightweight design thanks to the re-use of old gas pipes in its upper storey ring. The seats in the main stadium are also removable, rumours suggest that they will be re-used for the Formula 1 Grand Prix seating at Silverstone and even in Brazil for the World Cup 2014!
7. The whole site will be known as ‘The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’ after the games. This is what the planners have in-store for it:
– 8,000 new homes (2,800 have already built at the Olympic Village – where the athletes will be housed during the games)
– 11 new schools and nurseries
– 22 miles of new footpaths and cycling routes
– 4 miles of improved waterways
So I think it’s safe to say that the Olympic site is going to turn into a whole new community, the newest community in London! Providing a place for people to live certainly is a sustainable fact for the future of east London.
So, what do you think about some of the green facts I have raised above? Are you aware of any other sustainable examples from previous Olympic games? If you get a chance let me know below in the comments section or on Twitter. Let the games begin!
**Here’s one more bonus fact and my person favourite, did you know that the Velodrome is coated in rhubard oil?!**