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London 2012: Delivering a Sustainable Stadium

Populous, Buro Happold and the ODA discuss sustainability lessons learned from the Olympic Stadium

On the cusp of the 100 day countdown, the UK-GBC hosted another of its London 2012 events this week at the NLA, London: ‘Delivering a Sustainable Stadium’. I’ve been going along to as many of these talks as possible, even though they cover much of the same ground as my book (London 2012 Sustainable Design). I always pick up something new, particularly on how sustainability played out in the latter part of the project during procurement and on site. Although London 2012’s continual self-promotion is getting a bit old, it is still worthwhile hearing different project team members gathered together on one panel. This is particularly relevant to sustainability because the message that comes through again and again is the critical importance of COLLABORATION to deliver sustainability wins.

Aerial of Populous' Olympic Stadium

Aerial of Populous’ Olympic Stadium

Speakers included:

- Ian Crockford, Stadium Project Manager, ODA

- Glyn Trippick, Project Director for London 2012 Stadium, Buro Happold

- Philip Johnson, Principal Architect, Populous

- Kirsten Henson, KLH Sustainability (former Material Manager for CLM and Sustainability Single Point of Contact for Olympic Stadium)

Ian Crockford, ODA project sponsor for the Stadium (each Olympic venue had an ODA client representative rather confusingly called ‘a sponsor)’, opened the event and introduced the project from a client’s perspective. He was followed by architect Philip Johnson and engineer Glyn Trippick who each highlighted the stadium’s sustainability achievements from their perspective, focussing on the ODA mantra of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’.

© POPULOUS, Olympic Stadium

© POPULOUS, Olympic Stadium

The key factor which was evident to both engineer and architect was that the stadium’s embodied energy was unlikely to be exceeded by the operational energy due to the stadium’s intermittent use pattern. Therefore it was vital that the embodied energy be reduced as much as possible. This was the major driver for the stadium’s lightweight design, an achievement which should not be lost sight of despite all the uncertainty and ensuing controversy over legacy use. A comparison of the London and Beijing stadium designs (granted the Beijing stadium had completely different aspirations) shows just how far the London team pushed the lean approach. This also addressed the constraints of the site because the stadium is situated on a small island. According to Glyn Trippick, the Beijing stadium contains 45,000 tonnes of steel; the London stadium has only 4,500 tonnes.

© POPULOUS, Olympic Stadium

© POPULOUS, Olympic Stadium

Glyn went on to discuss the two masterplans for the site that were required at the beginning of the project, the 2012 Games plan and the 2014 Transformation plan for legacy.

 

Aside from the lightweight design, the uncertainty about legacy is the crux of the sustainability story for the Stadium. The challenge was to design a stadium with as low embodied energy as possible to a fixed budget and immoveable timescale. That led to the approach of a demountable building which incorporates both permanent and temporary elements.

The design was also constantly scrutinised to meet the brief of providing a compact field of play with spectators as close to the action as possible.

© Morley von Sternberg, Olympic Stadium

© Morley von Sternberg, Olympic Stadium

Philip Johnson and Glyn Trippick were followed by Kirsten Henson (now of KLH Sustainability) who was the sustainability single point of contact for the Olympic Stadium. It was evident from Kirsten’s talk that she was a key driver and mediator in achieving many sustainability wins for the project. She explained that everyone had a different agenda and different understanding of what sustainability meant. However, she enumerated several examples of particular achievements which contributed to the overall sustainabity of the project, including the use of reclaimed granite coping stones, zero waste packaging for the seating, surplus gas pipes used in the steel compression truss and 50% recycled aggregate in the concrete rakers which support the seats.

Reclaimed granite coping stones

Reclaimed granite coping stones

Gas Pipes

Gas Pipes

The above steel tubes were sourced from the surplus steel market and incorporated into the steel compression truss which supports the roof (below).

© Morley von Sternberg, Olympic Stadium

© Morley von Sternberg, Olympic Stadium

Much can be learned from this multi-pronged approach to sustainability throughout design, procurement and construction. Find the PPTs from all the presentations here: ‘London 2012: Delivering a Sustainbility Stadium’

For more on London 2012 and sustainability, take a look at my new book London 2012 -Sustainable Design.’ For 25% discount for AJ readers, click here and enter promotional code VB802.

 

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