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12. Juni 2012     Print Print 

Olympics in London will be the greenest in history

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London this July will be the greenest Games in history, expanding on the legacy of sustainable development that has expanded in past Olympics. A new report from Jones Lang LaSalle traces the path of sustainable development as Olympic planners and host cities over the past 20 years have increasingly recognized the synergy between economic and environmental sustainability.

“Hosting the Olympic Games focuses the world’s attention on a city, so it’s vitally important that the development of an Olympic Village and sports venues considers environmental and economic impacts on the city during and after the Games,” said Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at Jones Lang LaSalle. “As an advisor and program manager on Olympics and other large-scale projects, we see the increasing focus that cities place on development that enables sustainable economic growth while minimizing environmental impact.”

Entitled “Olympian steps for sustainability,” the Jones Lang LaSalle report notes that an environmental focus at Olympic sites extends at least as far back as 1994, when the International Olympic Committee added “Environment” to “Sport” and “Culture” as a guiding principle. Since then, nearly every Olympiad has seen the focus on sustainability increase as cities increasingly consider environmental impacts of developments and plan for post-Olympic uses of sports venues and residences.

Beijing’s poor air quality was a concern during the 2008 Olympics, despite a USD $17 billion program of environmental improvement, including increase vehicle emission standards, development of a 126-mile ring of trees around the city to absorb pollen and dust, and the planting of 30 million trees and shrubs on 720 of newly cleared green space within the city. Despite these and other strategies, researchers later said air contaminants were two to four times higher in Beijing than in other recent host cities, with some apparent negative effects on the performance of Olympians.

Following the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Jones Lang LaSalle established a plan for furthering the development of the city’s Olympic Green area. Since 2008, nearly 2.3 million square meters of land in the Olympics Green area is in various stages of development, with the goal of making this area a more balanced commercial zone.

Green Olympics in 2012
London partnered with World Wildlife Fund and BioRegional to create “One Planet Olympics,” a program that addresses energy¸ carbon, water, waste reduction, biodiversity; access and inclusion; public health, and employment considerations. Strategies noted in the Jones Lang LaSalle report include: Development of renewable energy and distributed local power generation to minimiz, venues that use 30 to 40 percent less drinkable water than standard, a pledge of zero waste to landfill during the Games , re-use of 90 percent of demolition waste and creation of 45 hectares of wetland habitat and 675 boxes for flying animals within Olympic Park.

In addition, buildings created for the Olympics, including 17,000 flats for athletes and other residential and shopping properties, are designed for use after the Games and use sustainable design elements. As a key advisor to London, Jones Lang LaSalle considered environmental and economic sustainability in assessing the viability of residential and sports sites and post-Olympics commercial and civic uses for sites in support of London’s Olympic bid. The firm has also been named leasing agent of some post-Olympics properties.

“Even as the world’s attention is on London and the 2012 Olympics, Rio de Janeiro is planning even greater levels of sustainability for the 2016 Games, including higher levels of renewable energy, extensive bike paths connecting Olympic venues and a goal of 100 percent biodiesel fuel by 2016,” Probst said. “The future of the Olympics, like the future of cities themselves, includes an ever-increasing focus on sustainable development.”