The organising committee for London 2012 has vowed to hire many of the materials and facilities needed to stage the games, arguing that tackling so-called 'embodied carbon' represents a more effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions than deploying costly renewable energy technologies at the Olympic site.
Speaking to BusinessGreen, David Stubbs, head of sustainability at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), said the committee had commissioned a comprehensive analysis that had revealed more than half of the 400,000 tonne carbon footprint of staging the games is embodied in the materials deployed at the Olympic site.
"We found the biggest part of the footprint of the games is embodied carbon, and it was not just in the materials used in the stadia, but also in the so-called overlay - the temporary extra seating, cabling, IT, signage and so on that goes with any sporting event," he explained. "We want the footprint to be as low as possible...one way is to hire materials and facilities and always look at what can be done with them after the games."
Stubbs gave the example of the way in which the branding for London 2012 has been designed so that it can be used for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. "In the past, games have had to strip out all their branded material and rush to put in new material two weeks later," he said.
LOCOG hopes this hiring and reuse approach, coupled with the stringent environmental criteria included in its tender documents, will become the standard for future sporting events. "There is a lot of opportunity in the events sector to reduce its carbon footprint, as the use of temporary materials built on a bespoke basis and then sent to the skip is rife," said Stubbs.
The focus on reducing embodied carbon has developed as the Games committee has scaled back its original plans to deploy renewable energy technologies at the site, including proposals for a large-scale wind turbine.
"Back in 2004 when the bid was prepared, everyone assumed the renewable market would be in a different place, but the fact is less than two per cent of the UK's renewable capacity is in London," said Stubbs, explaining that the committee's energy partner EDF had investigated a wide range of options including hydroelectric generators in the River Thames and on-site wind turbines. "The wind turbine plans had to be stopped for safety reasons and the fact is it is very difficult to deploy large-scale renewables in urban environments, which may be a useful lesson for future projects."
He added the Olympic site was still expected to feature solar panels on some buildings, such as the press centre, and that legacy committee was exploring installing a waste-to-energy system on the site after the Games.
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