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The 2012 Olympic Games and Sustainability

The most spectacular sporting event in the world has the power to bring together the aspirations of the finest athletes on earth and the efforts of hundreds of thousands of individuals who create the stage for their performances. It has the power to revitalize communities and shoulder the hopes and dreams of billions of people around the world who will be watching with bated breath. The

2012 Olympic Games

 vision the organizers had from the onset was to use the power of the Games to inspire lasting change.

For six weeks in the summer of 2012, the eyes of the world will be on London. But for seven years before, and for many years afterwards, the organizers will be changing the way they had an impact on the people, industry and the planet.

Sustainability has been a key consideration for the London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) since London started to bid for the Games. Major achievements include the creation of the Olympic Park, which is the largest new urban parkland created in Europe for one hundred and fifty years; and the construction of the Olympic Stadium, which is touted as the most sustainable Olympic stadium in history. 

In addition, London 2012 will be the first Olympic Games to measure its carbon footprint over the entire project term, and is also the first Games to commit to a zero waste-to-landfill target through the strategic Zero Waste Games Vision.

To bring the approach to life, the organizers focused on four areas that directly relate to the 2012 Olympic Game Experience for individuals who visit the games but also for people watching on television. 

Behind the scenes, there are some very interesting ways that the 2012 Olympic Games where planned, built and delivered with sustainability at the core – from the transformation of the Olympic Park and the building of world class venues, to the everyday decisions that are made at London 2012. 

All the venues at the 2012 Olympic Games in London are designed to ensure that the athletes perform to the best of their ability while also pushing the boundaries of sustainability from a knowledge and design perspective.

Where possible existing venues where used – Wimbledon, Excel, Lords and Earls Court are examples of existing facilities that are in essence being “recycled“.  Where there is a legacy need the developers built new venues - the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome are examples.  Where there was no need, they built temporary venues in iconic places such as Greenwich Park, Hyde Park and Horse Guards Parade.

With millions of people on the move at the same time and extra people travelling each day in and around London, it is imperative to get everyone to their venues on time. By working with Transport for London and other partners to ensure that London’s public transport is ready these people can safely get to and from their destinations with relative ease.

London is also in and upon itself a great city for walking and cycling. They have a program called the “Active Travel Programme” which works to ensure that individuals have access to walking and cycling routes across the capital and co-host cities during the Games.

Most spectators at the London 2012 Games will want to have a bite to eat and a drink. The key aims of the food vision are to ensure that they offer affordable food that offers choice and diversity, and that they have healthy food and can cater for special dietary and cultural requirements too.

Contractors are required to serve food in compostable packaging and to source food in a way that has as low an environmental impact as possible.  For many of them this has meant implementing a fundamental change in how they source products and packaging –and is something they plan to adopt long term.

With so many people descending on London and the UK at the same time, the organizers need to ensure that  have thought long and hard about managing all that extra waste.  They created a revolutionary system for the Games, which will make it easier for us to ensure that no waste is sent to landfill during Games-time.

London 2012 seeks to optimise the opportunities to design out waste, while maximising the reuse and recycling of material arising during demolition, remediation and construction of the venues, as well as during the Games themselves. The Games and the lead-up to them present an opportunity to inspire change in waste-management practices in the events and construction sectors.

To learn more about the sustainability aspects of each venue visit





References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainable Demonstration Project Blog

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Scotland Yards Golf Club

Audubon Outdoors

Love and Dodson

Green World Parth

Turf Feeding Systems

The Dodson Group      

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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