Helen Drury, Policy Advisor at BCSC, assesses the legacy of London 2012.
Last Friday saw the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games with a spectacular show by Danny Boyle. Spirits are high for British medals, especially after winning our first two gold medals in the rowing and cycling today.
Our aspirations for our competitors are certainly high, but how about the ambitions for the London 2012 Games to be the most sustainable ever?
The Olympic stadium stands on what was some of London's most degraded land and contaminated waterways. In the run up to the Olympics, great efforts were taken to remediate the land; the stadium itself is mostly made from recycled materials, renewable energy is being used to power the stadium and there is a zero-waste to landfill policy.
Sustainability does not just mean green though; it also encompasses economic and social improvement as well. Certainly the increased number of visitors will help to boost the economy in the short term, and hopefully into the long term with increased tourism. Local Authorities have also been getting in on the action, hosting Olympic events, community parties and sports schemes at schools and leisure centres.
I have been impressed with the use of the existing infrastructure in London, with the three day eventing seamlessly slotted into Greenwich Park and the cyclists winding through South West London to the finish at Pall Mall. But this isn't only special to London, the sailing is taking place at Weymouth Sailing Pavilion and will hopefully drive tourism to the area in the future as it has been showcased across the world with the coverage of the Games.
Undeniably, the ambition for sustainability this year has set the bar for future Games very high. Success, however, ultimately depends on the legacy and how much the spirit of the Olympic Games is passed through to lasting change in the UK. A legacy strategy has been in place since 2009 and there are high hopes for the success of this; the athlete's village will be converted to housing following the Games and the park will be converted into a landscaped park for Stratford residents. What I think will be most interesting to see will be how much the sustainability of the site itself inspires other areas and businesses in the UK. In particular, East London's economy will undoubtedly benefit in the long term from such vast capital investment - including the new sustainable Westfield Shopping Centre - and four weeks of incredible showcasing. Will this area of London become a bubble of sustainable design and living?