Join the National Green Week celebration

Spearheaded by the Green Education Foundation (GEF), National Green Week is an annual event that empowers schools to engage in sustainability focused lessons, projects or activities. From the first full week in February until the end of Earth Month (April), participating districts, schools, classrooms and youth groups choose a week and select from one of GEF’s sustainability focused programs to be their ‘green theme.’  Continue reading

London 2012 Olympics conclude in energy efficient facilities

The London 2012 Olympics concluded yesterday with the Closing Ceremonies held in Olympic Stadium. The Stadium was the heart of the 500-acre Olympic park, constructed for the world competition and home to nine new sports facilities. The London 2012 Organizing Committee and the Olympic Delivery Authority aimed to build the new facilities with energy efficient, sustainable and recyclable designs, and several of the facilities will soon be deconstructed with some parts of the buildings to be used for other projects.

“In building the venues and staging the Games, we have ‘raised the bar’ for both the construction industry and future large-scale events. In areas as diverse as sustainability, health and safety, equality and inclusion, and business, jobs and training, we have set new standards to which others can now aspire.” — Olympic Delivery Authority

Here’s a look at the Olympic venues and London’s efforts to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle.’

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium at night with fireworks. Photo courtesy

Olympic Stadium was the host to both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as most of the track and field events. Designed by Populous, the stadium is innovative, flexible and the most sustainable ever built for an Olympic Games. The stadium’s permanent lower tier (cap. 25,000) sits within a bowl in the ground, minimizing the use of construction materials. Project officials created the bowl by excavating 800,000 tons of soil, most of which was cleaned and reused elsewhere in Olympic Park. The stadium’s temporary steel and concrete upper tier (cap. 55,000) will be dismantled after the Games.

The stadium was constructed using around 10,000 tons of steel–significantly less than in other Olympic stadiums. The top ring was built using surplus gas pipes. Athletic facilities within the Stadium include changing rooms, medical support facilities and a warm-up track. Amenities such as restrooms and catering were temporarily located outside the stadium in order to keep the upper tier temporary.

With the Games complete, the Stadium will continue to accommodate a number of different sporting, cultural and community events.


The Velodrome and Olympic Rings. Photo courtesy

The iconic Velodrome is arguably the most sustainable venue of the 2012 Olympic Games. Sustainable choices were made whenever possible, including Forest Stewardship Council certified wood on the indoor cycling track and a completely natural ventilation system.

According to the Official London 2012 Website, the Velodrome’s designers worked closely with a design panel to “tailor the track geometry, temperature and environmental conditions with the aim of creating a record-breaking track.” The building’s design incorporates a 100% naturally ventilated system that eliminates the need for air conditioning, and an abundance of natural light, reducing the amount of energy needed for artificial lighting. Its cable-net roof (‘strung’ with steel cables in the manner of a tennis racket) reduced the mount of required construction materials and collects rainwater, reducing main water usage by more than 70%.

The Velodrome will soon be handed over to the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority to form the heart of a new Lee Valley VeloPark, which will also include the Games’ reconfigured BMX track, a new mountain bike track and a new road cycle circuit. Open to the public and suitable for riders of all ages and abilities, the new VeloPark will combine cycling facilities across all disciplines to create one cycling ‘hub.’

Copper Box

With sustainability as the leading priority, the Copper Box was designed and built to achieve annual energy savings by up to 40% and reduce water use by up to 40%.  The roof, fitted with 88 light pipes that allow natural daylight into the facility, reduces the demand for artificial lighting as well as collects rainwater to be used for waste management. The venue’s retractable seating can change the floor size, easily facilitating a wide range of indoor competitions for future use.

Photo courtesy

The Copper Box got its name due to its top half: 3,000 square meters of external copper cladding — mostly recycled. The glazed concourse level illuminates the venue at night, allowing visitors to see inside the building.

Basketball Arena

The recyclable PVC material covering the Basketball Arena. Photo courtesy

London’s Basketball Arena is one of the largest temporary venues ever built for an Olympic Games. Made up of 1,000 tons of steel and covered in 20,000 square meters of recyclable PVC fabric, the arena is a visually impressive structure within the Olympic Park skyline.

To make the most of space and resources, the Basketball Arena shared some facilities with the Velodrome and BMX Track, including two courts and areas for catering, security and waste management. With the Games complete, the arena will be taken down with parts of it to be reused and relocated elsewhere.

Water Polo Arena

Built alongside the Aquatics Center, the temporary Water Polo Arena is the first dedicated water polo venue to be built for an Olympic Games. Similar in design to the Basketball Arena, the Water Polo Arena utilizes recyclable, environmentally-friendly PVC and materials which can be easily removed and reused after the Games. The venue has a capacity of 5,000, holds a 37-meter pool and smaller training pool, and features an inflatable roof and a unique sloping design.

The temporary Water Polo Arena situated next to the much larger, permanent Aquatics Center. Photo courtesy

Energy Centre and Primary Substation

Both non-competitive ‘venues,’ the Olympic Park’s Energy Centre and Primary Substation are structural examples in green design, similar to the competition venues.

Energy Centre. Photo courtesy

The Energy Centre provided a quarter of the electricity and all of the hot water and heating to Olympic Park during the Games. It was designed with flexibility in mind, with capabilities for increased capacity and new technology once the area is further developed in the future. The building also features biomass boilers which use sustainable fuels such as woodchip and gas to generate heat and deliver low-carbon energy.

For the construction of the Primary Substation, contractors reused material from the demolition of nearby buildings and included a ‘brown roof’ to attract wildlife and help enhance the area’s biodiversity.

Primary Substation. Photo courtesy

Architects of the Primary Substation opted for dark bricks, as opposed to traditional red bricks, for the structure’s exterior, reflecting the site’s industrial heritage and creating a sense of solidity in regard’s to the building’s role as a “cornerstone of the Park’s new utilities infrastructure that will underpin the future developments of the area.” Along with the Energy Centre, the Primary Substation helped power the construction of Olympic Park and will continue to power and support future developments.

The London Olympic Games provided a multitude of historic athletic performances, but will also leave a legacy as the most energy efficient Olympics to date, thanks to its energy efficient, sustainable and recyclable facilities. The buildings met standards comparable to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified buildings in the United States, with achievements in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Energy efficient design and high performance green buildings are a growing trend in the United States (such as Heartland’s own headquarters, built to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, the highest honor in green building design) and around the world–a trend that Heartland strongly supports.