UNEP chief says London 2012 Olympics has raised sustainability bar for future Games

By Tierney Smith

The London 2012 Olympics have been given the seal of approval from the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) chief Achim Steiner.

Visiting the Olympic Park on the eve of tonight’s Opening Ceremony, Steiner said London 2012 had raised the bar on sustainability and would leave a lasting legacy for the UK and the Olympics.

The London 2012 organisers set out with the aims to be the greenest Games to date (Source: ODA)

“Every Olympic Games represents unique challenges and opportunities in terms of raising the bar of the third pillar of Olympism – namely the environment – and London is no exception,” he said.

The stadium – the lightest in the history of the Games – was among the key achievements complimented by Steiner.

As RTCC reported the stadium’s builders used recycled gas pipes in its construction, and sits in a hollowed-out bowl designed to minimise the need for external construction materials.

He also praised the restoration of local waterways and the clean-up of the historic docklands, that saw 700,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil cleansed and used again.

“London’s clean-up of an old industrial site; the restoration of flows and habitats on the River Lea; the greening of supply chains; the low energy linked with the design and construction of a stadium including utilizing old gas pipes for the facility’s Olympic Ring,” he said.

“The use of temporary structures to reduce emissions are among the actions that can assist in inspiring the organisers of the Rio 2016 Games and beyond.”

In their pre-Games sustainability report, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) said it had met the vast majority of its targets.

Having committed to zero waste to landfill and reusing or recycling over 98% of the waste during the construction phase, the Games have also received praise from NGOs WWF and Bioregional.

However, some complaints have been made over missed renewable energy commitments for the Olympic Park site.

The original proposal was to generate 20% of the park’s energy needs form renewable energy sources, including an on-site wind turbine. Planners pulled the plug on the project and opted for a combined heat-and-power plant fueled by natural gas instead.

UNEP has had a longstanding partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the greening of the Games – spanning Athens 2004, Torino 2006, Beijing 2008 and Vancouver 2010.

It also co-founded the Global Reporting Initiative – the new sustainability assessment guide which has been used for London 2012.


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