From brown to green 1

It isn’t the awe-inspiring Opening Ceremonies, the medal count, or Michael Phelps that make this Olympics unique. London 2012 is considered the greenest games in history.

For the next couple of weeks, Olympic Park is home to about 9 million visitors, and nearly 19,000 athletes from around the world. There are criticisms that the Olympics can’t possibly be green when so many people from the around the world travel to one venue. But the history of Olympic Park in northeast London is often overlooked.

Olympic site in 2006 – Courtesy of CNN

In 2006, the site contained a landfill, and contaminated industrial sites like plastic and glue factories, an oil refinery, and a tar distillery. In just three years, the littered, neglected, brownfield became the home to some of the most sustainable buildings in the world. Notably, the remediation project included soil-washing plants to treat and reuse 2 million tons of soil on the site. After remediation was complete, the riverbanks were redesigned to have sophisticated flood management systems which support biodiversity in the area.

As with any sustainable development, the site will also meet the needs of the future. As part of the United Kingdom’s industry standards, there will be a 50% reduction in carbon emissions over time. The energy infrastructure was planned to support development around the area over the next 25 years.  The official site of the London 2012 Olympics states: “Throughout the construction programme and planning the Games themselves, we have been thinking of tomorrow: our aim is for the Games to leave an amazing legacy – for the Games to be remembered not only as a summer of fantastic sport, but as the catalyst for the regeneration of one of the most underdeveloped areas of the UK. “

The visitors and spectators in London and across the world revel in the journey of the athletes from a childhood dream to the Olympic Games. The same can be said of the site of the games itself – from brown to green.

 Continue to follow our blog posts for more on the London 2012 Olympics and sustainability.

 

 Sources:

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/13/sport/olympics/index.html

 http://www.london2012.com

 McNicholas, M., Lass, M., and Mike Vaughan. (2012). Gold Medal Legacy. Civil Engineering, 82 (7/8), 60-67.

Sustainable Infrastructure – Failure to Act Reply

Unlike a fine wine, our nation’s infrastructure is not improving with age! This is made perfectly clear by a recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE ) report [1] that issued grades of D- for both our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructures . I don’t know about you, but if I brought home a grade of D- when I was going to school, that was the same as an F as far as my parents were concerned. Not only that, but a D- meant that I had better get my act together and focus on my studies or I would be in big trouble. Unfortunately, the D- grade from ASCE doesn’t seem to be having the same effect with regard to federal funding for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. In fact, a follow-up report by ASCE [2] released in 2011 indicates that these near failing grades are further threatened by a significant funding gap of $54 billion in 2010, which is projected to grow to a gap of over $84 billion by 2020.

Failing local infrastructures with a lack of federal funding means that local governments will need to foot more of the bill just to keep its systems running at a D- grade. Municipalities and purveyors will be looking to residential users to front a portion of the bill, but you can pretty much bet that they will be looking to the industrial users to pay a majority of the bill.

 
Water and wastewater are very complicated issues that involve entire regions, complicated rate structures, conservation, capital improvements, water rights, and water fights. Not to mention that the general public has a lack of appreciation for the most valuable and essential commodity on the face of the earth.

 
The issue of rising water and wastewater rates is just beginning. It behooves all industrial users of water to implement a water policy and aggressive water conservation practices to stay ahead of this issue. The less you and your supply chain rely on the public water and wastewater infrastructure, the more resilient your manufacturing operations will be.

[1] “2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure”, ASCE, 2009.

[2] “Failure to Act, The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends I Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure”, ASCE, 2011