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28 April 2010
With just over 800 days left until the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, students from the Centre for Sustainable Development visited the Olympic Site to see how large infrastructure projects are developed. The day was organised with alumna Kirsten Henson and gave an insight into the sustainable initiatives built into the project. Kirsten was an undergraduate in the Engineering Department and returned later to undertake the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development in 2005/6.
The students heard talks from some of the major contractors working on the project, including Atkins, Aggregate Industries and Balfour Beatty. Kirsten who now works as Sustainability Team Materials Manager for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) Delivery Partner, CLM (the consortium made up of CH2M HILL, Laing O'Rourke and Mace), introduced the day discussing her role on the project and the innovations that are integral to the Olympics. The Games are aiming to be the most sustainable Olympics and Paralympics yet, with ambitious targets to minimise the impact of the games and associated activities; these include:
A major theme of all the companies' work is the legacy for East London. London Olympics claim 1,500 UK businesses have won around £5 billion of Games related contracts and 25 domestic commercial partners have signed up to the London 2012 programme.
The legacy for the surrounding area is a key design goal, with the Olympics and Paralympics described as merely significant milestones on a project that intends to transform London for decades to come. Given this requirement to design for 'legacy', there are a number of innovative design approaches being deployed. Innovations include a non-potable water supply network, a Combined Cooling and Heating Plant (CCHP) on site, 2.5MWe (megawatt electrical) Wind turbine and 3MWth (thermal megawatt) biomass boiler in the Energy Centre. Much is made of the fact that the project is to be in two phases, an Olympic phase and a 'legacy' phase. This involves part of the Olympic stadium, Aquatic Centre and some bridges being removed at the end of the games. Much work has gone into the landscaping of the area post games, with many bird and bat boxes being discreetly hidden on site.
The day concluded with a tour to see the progress made on site. The skeletal structures of the main stadium, the Velodrome, and the Aquatic Centre are already in place. With a little imagination, it is possible to see not the busy construction, but a green park filled with pedestrians, a long way from the east end industrial wasteland it was only three years ago. Good to know that an engineer from the Centre for Sustainable Development is at the heart of providing an exciting, natural open space in one of the busiest cities in the world.
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