The 2012 Olympic Games in London start today (7:30 p.m. on NBC). This year’s Olympic planners made it a priority to make less of an impact and create a more sustainable games. Check out a few of the most notable sustainable buildings at this year’s Olympics:
The Olympic basketball arena, brought to life by designers Sinclair Knight Merz, Wilkinson Eyre Architects and KSS, was designed to be deconstructed and recycled after the games are over. The arena (one of the largest temporary spaces ever built for an Olympic Games) measures 30m‐high rectangular volume – the equivalent of a seven‐story building – is made out of a steel portal frame and wrapped in 20,000 square meters of lightweight phthalate‐free and recyclable PVC. The flatpack design will allow for dismantling and future reuse elsewhere in the world – rumors have it that the arena could even be sold to the organizers of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Its lighter design also meant less steel and concrete were used in this 12,000 seat facility. London’s basketball area is a step in showing that the Games can be more responsible and sustainable.
Standing out with its wave-shaped roof, the Olympics’ second-largest building (after the main Olympic Stadium) is the first structure visitors see as they approach the Olympic Park. Built on a brownfield site, the Aquatics Centre’s stunning ceiling, which soars over the two 50-meter pools, were built out of sustainably sourced Red Lauro timber. The exterior was constructed with precast modular blocks of concrete, which not only reduced the amount of emissions required to build the facility, but also eliminated the need for painting. The interior stands are made from steel and phthalate-free PVC wrap that will be recycled after the games. And most of the building materials, including the 866,000 tiles needed to line the pool and locker rooms, were delivered by train instead of truck.
The Velodrome’s curved exterior, covered in wood paneling, reflects the sleek race track inside. The 6,000 seat structure benefits from natural ventilation instead of a reliance on air conditioning thanks to the exterior’s timber cladding. The use of artificial light is minimized because of the velodrome’s rooftop skylights. Its 17km of recycled steel cables are equivalent to twice the height of Mount Everest. A rainwater harvesting system reduces the amount of water needed for toilet flushing and grounds irrigation. The London Velodrome, which anchors the northern end of the city’s Olympic Park, will remain after the games conclude in August.
Photos: London2012, Newscientist