When London bid to host the 2012 Olympics, the city’s ambition was not only to stage the world’s biggest-ever sporting event, but also to hold the first truly ‘sustainable’ Games.
Some of the UK’s leading engineers, architects, contractors and property professionals have helped make the vision of the greenest games ever a reality. In order to achieve this goal, the designers needed clear environmental standards and guidance, and the work of David Shiers, Reader in Sustainable Property, Architect and Researcher in the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development at Oxford Brookes, has been an important part of this success story.
David and his co-authors came up with the concept for The Green Guide to Specification in 1994, after being asked by the then Government to develop a new way of improving the environmental performance of their buildings. It was its publication in 1996 which helped to make the UK a pioneer in sustainable construction.
Even with a ‘soft’ launch the industry reaction was immediate. “It was what property people had been waiting for,” explains David. “The industry finally had a robust rating system based on quantitative data which was easy to understand.” Since its publication it has been taken up by the BRE as part of both the BREEAM environmental rating system for buildings and later, The Code for Sustainable Homes environmental programmes.
David views the guide as another important step on the road to a more environmentally responsible property sector and a greener economy. “The move to a greener way of doing business has for me, always been inevitable. There’s a reduced risk of environmental harm, it’s less wasteful and often utilises fewer valuable resources so there’s an increasingly strong business case for going green.”
In the end, the London Olympics delivered about £7 billion of major construction works, which was one of the largest in the world. Six new permanent sports venues, the 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome, Aquatics Centre, Handball Arena, Basketball Arena and Water Polo Arena, have been built on what was once a derelict and polluted site in East London.
David is thrilled The Green Guide has informed decision-making on such an ambitious project “It’s wonderful, really. Architects go into the profession wanting to make a positive difference – it’s what motivates them to take on the tough challenges of providing high-quality buildings and infrastructure projects and to better manage the environment. I’m very lucky to be a part of something like this.”