Eco-chic? Sustainable Design

A Review of London 2012 Design

January 2009

Tags: design

Good design is crucial to ensuring that sustainability commitments are delivered. This is why the Commission chose to review the design processes in the bodies delivering the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games at an early stage. This enabled us to see how their design processes were planning to deliver London 2012’s sustainability commitments.

Key Findings

  • The ODA, LOCOG and the LDA have design processes in place
  • We have some concerns about the extent to which they are able to deliver the most sustainable outcomes. Specifically where there is not clear integration between the bodies and in some specific areas for each body
  • The ODA has taken a broadly effective process-led approach to sustainability in the design process, which has led to high standards of sustainability being specified.
  • We have not yet seen evidence of value engineering removing sustainability features that would jeopardise the achievement of the ODA’s sustainable development targets
  • Some decisions are being taken which, whilst not in conflict with the sustainable development targets, are arguably not consistent with the aspirations of the strategy
  • LOCOG prepare Venue Requirements for each venue
  • These will be supported by Sustainability Requirements for Venues which will cover design, construction, operations and deconstruction
  • LOCOG don’t yet have specific targets for some sustainability issues related to design but are taking actions to address this
  • The LDA signs off all ODA venues that it will have responsibility for. However, where legacy use is unclear there is a potential element of risk with the sustainability elements of the design
  • It is important that sufficient flexibility is retained to adapt to new opportunities and satisfy longer term policy requirements
  • We set out a series of recommendations that we believe need to taken in order for a sustainable legacy to be achieved


  • That a presentation be produced to set out the overall park design and how all elements link together. All venues and the park and public realm should then ensure that their designs are in keeping with the overall vision.
  • That LOCOG explore the opportunities to influence the marketplace for the goods and services they require to seek to enable the requirements of the Sustainable Sourcing Code to be applied despite the goods and materials being leased and not bought.
  • That targets are set for the waste arising during the fitting out and removal of overlay and from temporary venues. The zero waste to landfill principle should be a key consideration when deriving these targets.
  • That the findings of the Carbon Footprinting and Carbon Management Strategy are applied to LOCOG’s design processes to minimise the carbon footprint prior to procurement.
  • That LOCOG engage a specialist resource to deal with inclusive design to ensure that accessibility and related issues are appropriately addressed.
  • That LOCOG should give consideration to the provision of additional accessible seating that will enable the accommodation of greater number than originally planned for where necessary.
  • That the LDA ensures that the site and venues are future-proofed and retain sufficient flexibility to adapt to new opportunities and satisfy longer term policy requirements such as the Mayor of London’s Climate Change Action Plan and draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
  • That the LDA continue to maintain governance arrangements that recognise the inherent tensions and ensure sustainability is appropriately embedded in all aspects of design and delivery.
  • That the LMF sustainability criteria drive design. In order to meet the Mayor of London’s climate change target of a 60% reduction by 2025, the development is likely to need to be zero carbon in use and have very low embodied CO2 compared to a business as usual design, in addition to supporting a shift to lower carbon transport options, and enabling a reduction in the impact of food and consumption.
  • That the findings of the London 2012 Carbon Footprinting and Carbon Management Strategy are applied to LDA’s design processes to inform the areas needing action to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • That LDA sets out clear policy going forward, linked to an understanding of the rate of change of what will be the norm in development schemes when projecting forward to 2012, 2020 and 2050, particularly when considering the rate of change in approaches to addressing sustainability, through technological advances and behavioural change, over the past 5-10 years. This needs to include a commitment to continuous improvement of the sustainability performance of the development, as it will occur over a long period of time.
  • That the LDA ensures the legacy builds on the accessibility of the Games, with its aim to be the most accessible Games.
  • That there is clear integration of sustainability objectives into the early design stages for the remaining developments and ongoing projects of all the Key Stakeholders. This is in order to prevent the need to alter designs to build in sustainability criteria or retrofit at a later stage as this may lead to increased cost and consumption of resources.
  • That sustainability specialists are involved in the evaluation of design-related tenders to ensure that the relevant issues are considered at an early stage.
  • That there is a forum at which the ODA, LDA and LOCOG consider the areas where there are opportunities for additional investment in sustainability measures that could deliver longer term benefits. This should cover the level of investment required, the sustainability benefits that would accrue and any longer term resource savings that it would bring.
  • That the LDA and LOCOG produce a plan for the use of Games-time facilities and equipment which would be appropriate to be retained after the Games to support the legacy. This should be supported by dialogue on how sponsorship could be used more creatively to support provision in legacy as well as at Games time.
  • That long term management of the Olympic Park is resolved as soon as possible so that Park and Public Realm plans will be appropriate for legacy and will require a minimum amount of transformation.
  • That LOCOG engage with the ODA on the accessibility of venues during Games time and how their operations will enable the venues to be fully accessible. This also applies to how LOCOG will be assisting people with mobility difficulties to move through the park and how this is incorporated into the park design.
  • That the London 2012 Sustainability Group consider and recommend to OBSG alternative design solutions to deliver more sustainable design outcomes, where these are raised through the programme-wide sustainability reporting process or by members of the group.
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