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London 2012 Olympic Games Sustainability, London

Committed to being the ‘greenest games’ so far

The London 2012 Olympic Games had a commitment to being the ‘greenest games’ with five key headline themes and twelve sustainability objectives covering topics such as carbon, waste, materials and environmental impacts. A collaborative approach was required between the client, design teams, specialist sustainability consultants and contractors.

By establishing a full time sustainability team within the design team, Arup was able to consult with the client throughout the project on sustainability priorities, translating targets into actions for the engineers and reviewing new products and techniques to establish their viability and alignment with Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) priorities.

Additionally, the team undertook assessments of embodied carbon and life cycle impacts for different designs and materials and developed specifications to ensure the best sustainability outcome in areas such as recycled content, reuse of site won materials and responsible sourcing.

Sustainability was integral to all the design team’s activities and approaches to ‘lean design’ achieved significant improvements in areas of materials use and associated embodied carbon emissions.

Arup were also involved in assisting the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games(LOCOG) during the temporary overlay design and operational period of the park. This hands-on role helped to ensure that key targets around waste recycling and avoidance of environmental incidents were achieved.

The structures, bridges and highways designs for the Olympic Park changed significantly between the original scheme design and the final construction design. These changes brought about changes in the volumes and types of materials used, often through the reduction and realignment of structures and the incorporation of existing infrastructure.

CO² reduction

In conjunction with the ODA, Arup undertook a bridge optimisation study that reduced both the number and size of bridges across the park. Design simplifications were identified, enhancing the project without compromising the design requirements. Revised bridge design eliminated some unnecessary bridges and replaced large sections of the permanent bridges with temporary structures which have a lighter design. Utilising fewer materials had a minimum saving of 44,900 tonnes of CO² (26% reduction).

Loop road

The Olympic Park Highways consist of a loop road which circulates the park. Initially, a new highway construction was proposed. However, by realigning the original loop road to incorporate existing highway sections, the need to construct a new highway was avoided, saving 462 tonnes of CO² (9% reduction).


Development for the Olympic Park included the construction of retaining walls, concourses, embankments, and foot and highway bridges, existing in both Games and Legacy mode. Foundations for many of these consisted of pile structures. Through a process of site pile testing the actual performance of foundation structures could be determined, reducing the required number and depth of the different pile types. An increase in the use of cement replacement materials from 20% to 40% in the pile concrete also contributed to a reduction in carbon footprint. These actions resulted in a total reduction of embodied CO² of approximately 615 tonnes (24% reduction).

Arup reported on sustainability performance against KPIs, assisting the ODA and CEEQUAL in developing a bespoke CEEQUAL assessment process for a complex, multi package project; and undertaking seven CEEQUAL assessments of Arup’s design works, each achieving the highest ‘Excellent’ score following independent verification.