02 February 2007 | Antony Barton
Sustainable purchasing can only be achieved if buyers are set targets to reduce environmental impact in the long term, the head of the Olympic sustainability commission has said.
Shaun McCarthy, chairman of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, said it was essential buyers balance immediate cost savings with financial and energy savings achieved during the lifecycle of their purchases.
Speaking a week after the commission's launch, McCarthy admitted to an audience of buyers that environmentally-friendly materials, such as housing insulation, may cost more at the outset and their long-term energy-saving capability is often unknown. Yet he said that climate concerns meant "sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith".
He added: "Pounds must follow environmental and sustainable objectives. Sustainability isn't just about buying recycled paper - it's about using purchasing power to do some good."
McCarthy pointed to the Building Schools for the Future programme as a prime example of how not to approach a sustainability programme, with authorities focusing excessively on capital expenditure.
The Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 is an independent body that aims to make the city's Olympics as sustainable as possible. It reports to the Olympic Board and will monitor development across the delivery, staging and legacy aspects of the programme, until it is disbanded in March 2014.