London 2012 Olympics sustainable London

UK - London Olympics 2012.jpg
UK - London Olympics 2012.jpg


  • Preparations for the London 2012 Olympics involved 137 projects each in separate contracts of varying scale, from major works including the 80,000-seat Olympic stadium, through to preparation works at small-scale competition spaces. 
  • The program was delivered amid a local environment of heavy government, media, regulatory, and public scrutiny that demanded the program be delivered on-time with positive health and safety, quality, and environmental and sustainability outcomes
  • London 2012 was delivered by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), a Special Purpose Vehicle. The structure gave the ODA autonomy to implement its own program delivery, organisational and governance structures independent of external political influences, and allowed the ODA to establish clear roles and responsibilities and develop bespoke procurement and contracting strategies.


  • Olympic programs such as London 2012 involve the construction of significant amounts of new infrastructure, which requires the consumption of significant quantities of construction materials, energy, and other resources, and generates large volumes of construction, food, and other waste.
  • The program’s absolute requirement to deliver all projects before the opening of the Olympic Games had the potential to contribute to delivery personnel focusing on delivery timeliness at the expense of sustainability outcomes, (e.g. material use and waste) and environmental impact of new infrastructure over the assets’ entire lifecycle.


  • The flexibility of governance arrangements owing from the ODA’s structure allowed it to appoint an independent body, the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, in January 2007. The commission was jointly funded by the ODA, Transport for London, London Development Agency, Government Olympic Executive, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). 
  • The commission was responsible for, ‘monitoring the delivery of a sustainable Olympics and Paralympics and providing an assurance process to ensure sustainability objectives, targets, and aspirations were being met’ and monitored the ODA in addition to the third-party organisations participating in the delivery program.
  • The Commission conducted process assurance of key processes / themes across the London 2012 program including food, waste, energy, logistics, materials, staff and volunteer diversity, accessibility and transport, and ‘last mile’ transport to venues.
  • The themes were monitored on a workflow-basis and were identified through the commission’s existing knowledge of the key processes and in consultation with LOCOG.
  • Following the Olympics, the Commission was responsible for overseeing the sustainability of transitioning Olympic Park to long-term post-Olympic use and was wound up following the conclusion of these works in March 2013.


  • Commission for a Sustainable London 2012
  • Government Olympic Executive
  • ODA
  • Greater London Authority (Transport for London and London Development Agency)
  • Local London Boroughs
  • Infrastructure Projects Authority
  • CLM Consortium – Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke and Mace – Delivery partner.


  • July 2005 – London selected as the 2021 Olympic Host City
  • March 2006 – ODA established
  • September 2006 – CLM Consortium appointed as Delivery Partner
  • January 2007 – Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 established
  • Summer 2012 – 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games held
  • March 2013 – Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 wound up.

Results / impact

  • Works for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were delivered ahead of time, under budget, and deemed a success by 83% of the general public.[1]
  • A Post-Games Report published by the Commission in March 2013[2] concluded that the games largely met or exceeded their sustainability objectives. These included:
    • 48% onsite (and 59% including offsite measures) reduction in carbon emissions from operation of the assets post-games against a target of 50%
    • 11% of energy from renewable sources against a target of 20%
    • 90% of waste diverted from landfill, achieved by implementing a site-wide waste contract and providing financial incentives to subcontractors to segregate their waste, which was self-funded through savings in the site-wide waste operation
    • 34% recycled content by value in materials used, and 40% recycled content by mass against targets of 20% and 25% respectively
    • 60% reduction in potable water use against a target of 40%
  • Additionally, the review found early evidence that some of the sustainability initiatives used throughout delivery of the program were being adopted more widely primarily due to improved contractor capability from experience gained in delivering the games. Specific examples noted include:
    • Buildings delivered to BREEAM Outstanding or LEEED Platinum standards, such as Skanska head office (Sweden), PWC Office (London), Hollywood House (Woking), London School of Economics
    • Large infrastructure projects adopting the ODA’s process of specifying sustainability outcomes, such as Crossrail (London), Toronto Waterfront (Toronto, Canada), and Barangaroo (Sydney, Australia).

Key lessons learnt

  • The Post-Games Report published by the Commission in March 2013[3] found that a key driver of successfully delivering the program in a sustainable manner was the early establishment of the commission, and the implementation of clear sustainability objectives with measurable targets, and clear assurance and accountability structure.
  • The review found little evidence of similar sustainability efforts being implemented in other large sporting programs such as the Rio and Sochi Olympics, and Glasgow and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and found little evidence of use of these sustainability practices beyond large-scale, high-profile projects. This was attributed to general scepticism about the business case value of adopting sustainability initiatives, inconsistent approaches to planning, lack of leadership, and lack of a supply chain suitable for delivering works in a sustainable manner.



http:/ uploads/document/7idck7sw5w/YG-Archive-Post-Olympiccomparison-150812.pdf



Last Updated: 16 October 2021