How sustainable is the legacy of the Olympic Games?

7 August 2012
It is some time since I was invited to a slumber party so the opportunity to be part of the commissioning event for the Olympic Village was very welcome. Around 1,000 guests spent an evening in the athlete’s village before the Games began and stayed over in one of the apartments. The village will be a housing development in legacy, with 2,700 homes, a school, a GP ‘polyclinic’, shops and playgrounds, with the Stratford International railway station on its doorstep, not to mention the massive Westfield shopping centre. The homes are currently kitted out for the athletes, but this will all be recycled after London 2012 and the homes fitted out for legacy, with 50 per cent affordable housing and 50 per cent for sale. This is the first major development to be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and it will be a very energy- and water-efficient development in legacy, with living roofs and sustainable drainage systems. Meanwhile, the jewel in the sustainable crown is the catering. The sustainable experience is everywhere: for example, the huge CFC-free refrigerators offer plenty of healthy drinks from Coca-Cola’s subsidiary Innocent and there is a promise to recycle every bottle used into another bottle within six weeks. Coca-Cola has built a new recycling centre in Lincolnshire to achieve this. Healthy, locally produced food is on offer and all packaging is compostable and clearly marked to show which bin to put it in. This is a great example of dealing with an entire value chain in a sustainable way, starting with a bold objective to supply healthy, sustainable food and sending no waste to landfill, and working backwards through the venue specification and the food supply chain, right back to the farm, and the packaging supply chain to the last compostable plate. But as I was leaving, I was shocked to see the Westfield centre closed off by the police. While we were enjoying London 2012’s hospitality, a young man had lost his life in a gang fight. It was a chilling message that there is much to be done in legacy terms if the Games are to be a catalyst for sustainable regeneration – and for the Olympic Park and its surrounding area to be a safe and sustainable place for people to live. ☛ Something you want to get off your chest? Get on the SM Soapbox. ☛ Send a brief outline of your proposed article to
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