London 2012 Olympics – one year on

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 17/07/2013

The London 2012 Olympics promised to be the greenest games ever delivered.

The first challenge was to regenerate 500 acres of contaminated industrial land in to an Olympic Park and build a sustainable new quarter of London - the largest regeneration project in Europe.

It was completed with more 4,000 trees and 74,000 plants transforming areas in to new parklands, while miles-long waterways were cleaned up and used for transporting materials and waste to and from sites – an initiative that saved over 70,000 road vehicle movements.

But the most important initiative was the embedding of sustainability early in to the procurement process, says Senior Strategist Danielle Mulder from London’s Olympic Delivery Authority.

“There was early engagement with the supply chain through industry days and the communication of sustainability opportunities to potential suppliers. Sustainability was written into contracts and all tenders had a set of evaluation criteria that included sustainability,” Danielle said.

“The tender for our waste management contractor for example, took in to account the levels of recycling and the use of waterways to remove waste from the site rather than by road,” she said.

“We also introduced an online system, which helped SMEs get ready for bidding and avoided any disadvantage against the bigger firms. Concrete was a big focus for us given its high environmental impact and the huge volumes required during construction.”

The Olympic Park used approximately 500,000 cubic metres of concrete made with over one million tons of coarse aggregate.

“A materials testing centre and two concrete batching plants helped centralise our concrete production on site. This saved us money but also encouraged innovation from our contractors, including a low carbon concrete made specifically for the games,” Danielle said.

By targeting concrete, the strategy resulted in the use of approximately 170,000 tonnes of recycled and secondary aggregate – about 22 percent of total production, and helped save about 30,000 tonnes of embodied carbon, according to the UK Governments’ London 2012 Olympics Sustainability Report.

“The cleaning of waterways meant 20% of waste could be taken out by barge. Over 400,000 tonnes of waste was also reused on site, and much of it was segregated at the source, which helped divert 95% from landfill, avoided 120,000 lorry movements and saved more than 90 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions. A further 1300 tonnes of steel was reused,” Danielle said.

“It’s important to point out that sustainability is about more than just the environment, it’s about social benefits too. The Games employed thousands and thousands of people. Using an Employment and Skills Taskforce, 15% of the workforce was sought from five host boroughs and 2000 people were put into trainee apprenticeships and work placements,” she said.

“Sustainability was definitely a board-level issue that benefited from a top-down approach and was embedded at every stage – from strategy to design, through procurement, construction and in to operation.”

Danielle has since moved to Australia is now an Associate Director at Edge Environment in Sydney. Danielle is committed to reducing environmental impacts in the supply chain.

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