London 2012 has published its Post-Games Sustainability Report, presenting results and highlighting the key learnings, from integrating a sustainability programme in the world’s largest event. The report is intended as a resource and knowledge transfer tool to help future Olympic and Paralympic Games and global event organisers embed sustainability into event planning.
Sustainability was a key part of the London 2012 bid and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) set ambitious sustainability targets. These included; measuring the carbon footprint over the entire project term, implementing a waste strategy to achieve zero Games-time waste to landfill, delivering a public transport Games, committing to a Food Vision to specify stringent sustainability requirements, and setting new standards – by contributing to the development of the international sustainable event management system standard, ISO 20121 – set to be part of a very influential global legacy.
The Post-Games report provides the final results of the sustainability programme and reviews how and whether targets were met. Key results and learnings include:
Low Carbon Games
London 2012 was the first Games to use carbon footprinting as a tool to inform decisions to minimise environmental impacts. By influencing venue design, materials and equipment selection and procurement strategies, as well as operational interventions during the Games, the following achievements were realised:
- 400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent saved (against reference footprint)
- Construction carbon footprint 15 per cent lower than reference footprint
- Games operations carbon footprint 28 per cent lower than reference footprint
- 86 per cent of venue overlay materials hired (64 per cent carbon saving)
- 34 per cent reduction in venue energy use saving 31,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
- London 2012 Transport Plan achieved 30 per cent carbon reduction for domestic spectator travel
Zero Waste Games
LOCOG was the first Organising Committee to publish an all embracing Zero Waste Games Vision. Key achievements included:
- During the Games period (July-October 2012) 100 per cent of event operations waste was diverted from landfill
- A total of 10,173 tonnes of operational waste was recorded
- By conventional measures 82 per cent of operational waste was reused, recycled or composted, whereas the true figure was 62 per cent, taking into account waste stream contamination and processing efficiencies
- 73 per cent of spectators surveyed during the Games said that the waste stream logos on packaging made it clear in which bin to put their waste
In addition to meeting the Games-time transport challenge, the aim was to maximise the long-term transport legacy benefits for London and the UK as a whole.
Public transport, walking and cycling were key parts of the success of the Games. The principles of inspiring more active forms of travel through the staging of a major event and promoting as many travel options as possible, both for those travelling to the event and those that are temporarily impacted, can be applied easily elsewhere.
Economic Benefits of Sustainability
- More than 70 per cent of LOCOG’s individual suppliers were micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, providing 26 per cent by value of the programme.
- More than 95 per cent of LOCOG’s total spend was within the UK and contracts were awarded to businesses in all nations and regions of the country.
- More than £9m of savings (representing between 25 and 55 per cent) were realised in power and fuel use for the Games, and there was a 40 per cent saving of water use.
- At the peak of the Games workforce, 39 per cent of staff directly employed by LOCOG had been unemployed prior to their recruitment, and 34 per cent of contractors newly employed for the Games were unemployed prior to their recruitment
- 23.5 per cent of staff directly employed by LOCOG and 21 per cent of contractors employed for Games-time roles were resident in one of the six Host Boroughs (59 and 49 per cent respectively were resident in Greater London)
- Nearly £8m worth of Games equipment and materials have been sold for reuse; wood, plasterboard, lighting and doors have all been redeployed at local charities, building projects and community programmes; and some of the equipment was given to local charities, schools in the Get Set network and to sport National Governing Bodies.
Jonathon Porritt, environmentalist and lead London 2012 sustainability ambassador said, “This report represents a “first cut” on the final story, with a particular focus on those issues which were seen by stakeholders as being of particular importance. There is so much that will contribute to the legacy of the 2012 Games, and the sustainability story is right up there as one of the most important aspects”.
Sir Tim Smit, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of the Eden Project and London 2012 Sustainability Ambassador said, “The LOCOG Sustainability team have done London, the Olympic Movement and event management a colossal service in creating the first really meaningful template for measuring environmental impacts of an event.”