This summer, London will be hosting the 2012 Olympic games. This year, they are sure to be filled with moments of drama (or “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” as Jim McKay used to put it). While the world will be watching all of the human moments on TV or even going to the games themselves, what about the impact of all those people there? In the U.K., The Economist magazine recently launched an ad campaign highlighting the economic impact of the Olympics on England. But what about the environmental impact as well? The winter games in Vancouver 2 years ago highlighted the importance of sustainability, but has that carried over to London’s efforts this summer?
Organizers have gone to great lengths to cut down on their carbon footprint before anyone even shows up for the games. Renting instead of building tents, seats, and crowd barriers has helped reduce their footprint. Also building smaller venues and recycling or reusing more than 98% of the waste from demolishing venues has helped reduce their footprint – now down to 315,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the original 400,000 estimate.
London is already known for its phenomenal public transportation – buses, trams, and the famous Tube are all easy ways to get around the city, and even walking is a very viable option for some of the more famous spots around town. The city has also even implemented the Barclay’s Cycle Hire program, with pickup and drop-off stations all over London. Officials have also made plans to use renewable energy – about 11% of all energy output will be solar panels, small wind turbines, and biomass boilers. The other energy output will be offset by using energy-efficient, cost-saving measures for more than 2800 homes and 12 schools in the area. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), an international non-profit and non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management, has certified the Olympic site as using all of its timber originating from sustainable forests.
While Olympic officials have made many moves to make this year’s games the greenest ever, there will still be an impact from all the travel, the tourists, and more. We’d love to see a zero-impact Olympics, but to be able to reduce, reuse, and offset this summer only means the bar will be raised for the sustainability of future games, and that’s a good thing!
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