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The Paralympic Flame: A Homecoming

August 29, 2012   |   Posted by Andy Shipley

Last night, I sat alongside 8,000 fellow spectators overlooking the athletics stadium at Stoke Mandeville. Whilst awaiting the arrival of four flames representing each of the home nations, I was deeply struck by how far we have come.  For the inaugural Paralympic games of 1948, whilstLondonhosted the ‘austerity’ games at the Iconic Wembley Stadium, the field of play for the handful of Paralympians was a lawn.  A lawn located on the very site on which 64 years later, thousands of us gather to celebrate the arrival of the global event the Paralympics has now become. Another measure of the progress that has been achieved by the Paralympic movement is the level of sponsorship it has obtained.  Whilst household names such as Lloyds TSB and BT have been somewhat inconspicuous when it comes to promoting the Paralympics on TV and radio, their support for last night’s Paralympic Flame ceremony was very apparent.  It was also very pleasing to be offered a seemingly unlimited supply of free apples and bananas by Sainsbury’s, a welcome healthy alternative to the usual fast food on offer. There were however, a number of disappointing aspects to the event from a sustainability perspective.  Much of the food …

Bike

August 28, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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It was great to see the ODA and LOCOG promoting cycling as a way to get to the Paralympics yesterday. Gold medal winner Joanna Rowsell is helping to promote cycling as a great way to get around. Over the past five years, London has become a much more cycle friendly city with thousands of people enjoying cycling as a cheap, sustainable and healthy way to experience our great city. The addition of the bright “Boris Bikes” means that you don’t even have to own a bike to enjoy this unique pleasure. Cycling gives you the full experience of the city, all the sights, sounds and smells and is the quickest way to travel over short journeys, along with walking. Travelling by car, bus or taxi is like observing the city through a TV screen. The subterranean experience of the Tube does not give you an experience of the city at all but it remains the fastest and most efficient way to travel for longer journeys. London 2012 has made a great effort to promote cycling as a way of getting to the Games as part of the Active Travel programme. A total of 7,200 secure bike parking places have been provided, along with web-based maps …

Voluntary service

August 20, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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I have great memories of the Beijing 2008 Games and in particular the way China welcomed the world with a smile. Everywhere you went you would see hundreds of members of the Chinese public, always willing to help, polite, happy, smiley. However some of them were not very well informed but I didn’t really care – they made you feel better about being lost. However, I suspect there was also a message about China’s arrival on the world stage. All the volunteers I met were aged 18-25, well educated, graduates or students and ethnically Han Chinese. There were no old people, no disabled people, no Muslims or Buddhists. This was a statement about China’s emerging middle class. At the time I expressed a desire that London could and should do better. In contrast to Beijing, London 2012 aimed to reflect the diversity of London and the wider UK in its volunteer force. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a great opportunity to show off the rich diversity and inclusivity of our city and country. Of course, we won’t know the exact results against this target until after both Games have finished, but to the casual observer, the diversity of the …

After the party

August 15, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Olympic Park 15 June 2010 EMMA's 002 compressed

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 …

Double gold for sustainable London 2012…?

August 11, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

When the Commission was first established we knew we would need to set the bar high if the world was to be convinced that London could really deliver a sustainable Games. As well as looking at best practice in various industry sectors it was also necessary to look to previous Games for inspiration and benchmarks. There is no doubt that Sydney’s Green Games would be a hard act to follow. The work they did on remediation, energy efficiency, use of solar power and particularly water efficiency remains a hard act to follow. The innovative design of the stadium means that five different sports can be played there, contributing to a legacy. The connection with nature was not forgotten either with new habitats created for some of Australia’s native and rare species. I doubt the term “sustainability” was in common use when Barcelona won the bid in 1985 to stage the Games in 1992. However the vision of legacy for this fine city is there for all to see 20 years on. The imaginative use of the existing stadium in Spain and the legacy use for events and rock concerts is a great example that London could even improve upon given …

The end of the beginning

August 10, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

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Like Jessica Ennis going into her final event; LOCOG’s Games were the final act in seven years of hard work by a variety of organisations. Early success was already in the bag. Great sustainable infrastructure, venues and a wonderful green park constructed by the ODA. Only venues that have a clear legacy use were designed to be permanent. The use of temporary venues has been unprecedented. Long term investment in public transport infrastructure has made Stratford one of the best connected places in Europe. The world’s first public transport Games was delivered by Transport for London and LOCOG despite all the predictions of doom and gridlock. The cheerful volunteers made the experience a joy. I even saw some people on the tube talking to each other! Why can’t it be like that all the time? LOCOG’s spectacular success in delivering a low carbon Olympic cauldron set the scene. London 2012 has demonstrated that it is possible to deliver a wonderful variety of sustainably sourced, competitively priced food and aim to dispose of the packaging with recycling and composting performance that should put the rest of the event industry to shame. Green spaces were well looked after. This was billed as …

My chains fell off…

  |   Posted by Jonathan Turner

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One of the themes in the run up to these Games has been people looking to London’s hosting of the Olympics and Paralympics to solve many long seated problems within the city or wider UK. In some cases seemingly intractable problems have moved towards solutions but in other areas this is a step too far. I recently cycled round Games-time London to see how feasible and popular this was, particularly in light of a recent tragic incident. I’m a fairly keen cyclist but have never cycled in central London before so this seemed a good test. Having had problems activating my key and using a credit card for the cycle hire scheme, I borrowed a colleague’s bike and took to the road. The roads were busy as expected and I needed my wits about me to negotiate the complex web of obstacles and road provision for cyclists. There are cycle paths and super highways, albeit frequently blocked by delivery vehicles (even official Games suppliers!), and numerous buses, private hire vehicles and cars to contend with. I did learn a new “trick” from one vehicle – you pull up on a double yellow line, open your bonnet as if you have …

CSL – our story so far

August 9, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Flowers and the Orbit

It was several years ago, 2008 I think, when one of our Commissioners, Professor Stuart Green had a little rant about legacy. We spent a lot of time talking about the social and economic legacy of East London and the environmental standards of the developments but Stuart had an alternative angle on this subject. He advocated that there should also be a legacy of learning. He believes that one of the key flaws of the construction industry in which he specialises is its inability to share and acquire learning in a systematic way from project to project. He explained that …

Will there be a legacy?

August 8, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

Expectations were high. London 2012 was expected to deliver the most sustainable Games ever. But will there be a legacy? I have always seen London 2012 as a sustainable regeneration project interrupted by a few weeks of sport. This is a view developed by the political leaders at the time and led to the concept of the sustainable Games. There is no doubt that East London has exploded on to the world stage as a place to visit, live and work. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill “perhaps this is the end of the beginning” for a sustainable legacy in East London. Personally I saw stories of West End shops and eateries being relatively quiet as a ringing endorsement for the arrival of the East End as a destination. People were going to the Games and choosing to stay on the Park or in the local vicinity. Unthinkable five years ago. Visitors will undoubtedly return to the West End but hopefully they will return with their wallets to the East End too, providing an economic route to a better future. There is much more to be done in East London and we turn to Daniel Moylan in his new …

The best building on the Park…..?

August 6, 2012   |   Posted by Shaun McCarthy

When the competition is over, the judges’ scores are counted and the chairperson of the judging panel adjudicates the result, which buildings will get the medals? The obvious contender for Gold would be the wonderful Velodrome. For me this is the Jessica Ennis of buildings, the “Face of the Games”. I have waxed lyrical about this building before; 30% better energy efficiency (double the target of 15%), half the weight of materials compared to the Beijing Velodrome, sustainable timber cladding etc. However I would like to make the case for two far less glamorous buildings; the Energy Centre and the building housing the membrane bio-reactor at Old Ford. The ODA has delivered exemplary low carbon infrastructure with 47% lower carbon compared to a “business as usual” case, assuming that the site was constructed in accordance with current regulations. All of the permanent venues were specified to deliver 15% greater energy efficiency and the wonderful Velodrome achieved 30%. However, the jewels in the low carbon crown are not the iconic buildings you see on TV but the un-glamorous energy centre and the even less glamorous building housing a membrane bio-reactor. The energy centre houses a gas engine which generates electricity from …


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