Now the Games are over there is little respite for the LOCOG team. The venues need to be transformed to Paralympics mode in just over 2 weeks. This is a huge task requiring meticulous planning and execution. Some venues will be closed altogether and reverted back to their original use. An example of this would be Lords, which reverts to cricket, and Wimbledon, which is not needed for the Paralympics because wheelchair tennis will be played on the Park at a venue called Eton Manor which was not used during the Games. In legacy this will help to provide excellent sports facilities for disabled people.
The event industry calls the process of taking down a venue “bump out”. Traditionally waste management is not high on the agenda as speed is usually of the essence so much of the material is dumped in a skip and sent to landfill. I have referred to this in the past as a “skip fest”. But these are the sustainable Games and of course there is a plan to deal with this. Firstly London 2012 hired everything they possibly could. This is cheaper, requires less energy to manufacture new goods and ensures that the goods are simply returned to the owner to be used again. Not just small things, the massive basketball arena, water polo and hockey venues are hired. The second part of the plan is to ensure that every single item purchased appears on an asset register. Work started well ahead of the Games to plan to sell or donate these assets so they can be re-used.
Of course there are some materials that cannot be re-used so they need to be recycled. An example of this would be the laminate floors in the Olympic Village. They were low quality and low cost “sacrificial floors” to be used for the Games and Paralympics and recycled afterwards to be replaced by new, more durable flooring in legacy to ensure the new occupiers of the housing have a new property in pristine condition.
LOCOG has an aspiration to reuse or recycle 90% of bump out waste but as this has never been done before on such a scale it is described as a stretch target. We will be following up with LOCOG to ensure that everything possible is done to meet this aspiration.
After the Paralympics; the London Legacy Development Corporation take over the park and it will be closed for nearly a year while transformation work takes place. This is a big construction project, requiring reconfiguration of the stadium, removal of bridges or reducing them in size and removing the basketball and water polo arenas. They inherit a meticulous asset register prepared by the ODA with disposal plans for every asset that will not be needed in legacy. Again we expect 90% diversion from landfill or better.
After the show there is much work to be done behind the scenes before the public can enjoy a great new piece of city and this much-used word “legacy” starts to become a reality.