Gallery: The Top 6 Green Buildings at the 2012 London Olympics!

The 2012 London Olympics could very well be the most sustainable Summer Games on record. Critics may be quick to highlight such sponsors as BP and Dow Chemical, and the creation of the world’s largest McDonald’s (albeit a temporary one), not to mention strange moments such as London Mayor Boris Johnson's move to manipulate pollution levels using dodgy chemicals. Nevertheless, no Olympic organizers have worked harder to make this massive event more environmentally responsible than London 2012. That commitment has carried over to many of the Games’ buildings, including the main Olympic Stadium, the lightest ever built. The 80,000 seat stadium boasts a bevy of sustainable construction features, including rainwater harvesting, a fabric roof and interesting choices in recycled materials. With no disrespect to the Game’s focal point, we here at Inhabitat have come up with what we believe are the six greenest buildings built for the 2012 London Olympics.

London Velodrome

The London Velodrome, part of the Velopark bicycling center in east London, anchors the northern end of the city’s Olympic Park. Both the indoor velodrome and nearby BMX racing track will remain after the games conclude in August. The Velodrome’s curved exterior, covered in wood paneling, reflects the sleek race track inside. The 6000 seat structure benefits from natural ventilation instead of a reliance on air conditioning thanks to the exterior’s timber cladding. The use of artificial light is also minimized because of the velodrome’s rooftop skylights. A rainwater harvesting system also reduces the amount of water needed for toilet flushing and grounds irrigation, but London’s Olympic organizers said the costs of installing such a system far exceeded the financial benefits.

Basketball Arena

The Olympic basketball arena not only dazzles, but democratizes. Completed last year on time and under budget at £30 million, the arena is the Olympics’ largest temporary venue. The flatpack design will allow for dismantling and future reuse elsewhere in the world. Rumors have it that the arena could even be sold to the organizers of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro or be reassembled in a poorer country in the future. Its lighter design also meant less steel and concrete were used in this 12,000 seat facility. While past Olympic hosts including Atlanta, Athens and Beijing are stuck with “white elephants” as the result of hosting these lavish events, London’s basketball area is a step in showing that the Games can be more responsible and sustainable.

Aquatics Centre

Standing out with its wave-shaped roof, the Olympics’ second-largest building after the main Olympic Stadium is the first structure visitors see as they approach the Olympic Park. Built on a brownfield site, the Aquatics Centre’s stunning ceiling, which soars over the two 50-meter pools, were built out of sustainably sourced Red Lauro timber. The exterior was constructed with precast modular blocks of concrete, which not only reduced the amount of emissions required to build the facility, but also eliminated the need for painting. The interior stands are made from steel and phthalate-free PVC wrap that will be recycled after the games. And most of the building materials, including the 866,000 tiles needed to line the pool and locker rooms, were delivered by train instead of truck.


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  1. UK-GBC July 27, 2012 at 11:03 am

    We really like your summary of the top 6 green buildings.

    We thought we would share this guide we made following the 15 events we did as sustainability partner to the ODA to disseminate the sustainability lessons learned:

    There is lots of information and knowledge in there for everyone to learn from and borrow for their projects!

  2. Pratt Industries July 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    If sustainability was a sport, there’s no doubt Olympic host city London would win the green!

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