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Racing to the top: 10 green Olympic facts

<p>Features range from real-time energy monitoring to the world&#39;s first recyclable stadium to an athlete&#39;s village with a green future.</p>

Editor's note: As the London Olympic games opens Saturday, the spotlight will be on the world's top athletes as they compete for what is perhaps sport's greatest honor: a gold, silver or bronze medal. Just as notable, though, is the sustainable features of the venues and services supporting the event. Business Green highlights 10 features here. Numbered items are not ranked.

1. The world's first recyclable stadium

The 80,000 seat stadium was constructed with less than half the steel used in comparably sized stadiums, making it the lightest Olympic Stadium to date. It includes more than a third recycled content and is expected to require 60 percent less water compared to its counterparts. The ring beam that supports the roof is also made of reclaimed gas pipes.

2. Cycling's sustainable surface

The VeloPark, which can seat up to 12,000 people, was constructed using mainly timber and has a lightweight roof that reduces its embodied carbon emissions by limiting the use of steel. It also has rainwater harvesting capabilities that will help cut water consumption by 75 percent. Best of all, the timber (including that used for the track) all came from certified sustainable sources.

3. A greener feed

London has set a new standard for Olympic food sourcing by becoming the first country to publish a "food vision" for the 14 million meals that will served during Games time. It includes requirements on caterers such as McDonald's to source food to high environmental, ethical and animal welfare standards.

Photo of Olympic rings lit up at night provided by Sergei Bachlakov via Shutterstock

4. McDonald's serves up eco-uniforms

Not content with merely serving sustainable-certified food, McDonald's has kitted its 2,000 Olympic employees in new Wayne Hemingway-designed uniforms made from closed-loop compatible and recyclable materials. The designs are expected to be rolled out to McDonald's 87,500 employees across the UK from the autumn, slashing the amount of clothing waste sent to landfill bny the company to zero.

5. VIPs and their greener Beemers

Anyone travelling through the capital over the coming weeks won't be able to miss BMW's brightly colored Olympic fleet, including 200 electric vehicles and 400 bicycles. Half the fleet will be BMW 320d Efficient Dynamic saloons, while another 700 will be BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics. The automaker has achieved its target of ensuring the London Olympics Games' fleet does not exceed average emissions of 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer, while also pioneering the use of zero emission technologies.

6. Little use for landfill

The Olympic Delivery Authority has exceeded its target to reduce waste in construction and demolition. More than 90 percent of demolition waste is expected to be reused or recycled and at least 90 percent of construction waste was be diverted from landfill.

7. Coca-Cola closes the loop

Thanks to its new factory in Lincolnshire developed in partnership with ECO plastics, Coca-Cola has promised to turn all plastic bottles discarded at Olympic sites into 80 million new drinks bottles.

8. Faster, higher, stronger, greener for the Athlete's Village

The 17,000 apartments in the Athletes' Village represent the UK's first substantial housing development to be built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. As such the buildings are 44 percent more energy efficient than 2006 building regulations required, while the estate boasts more than 10,000 square meters of green roofing. Moreover, after the athletes return home, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) wants to turn the site into a 225-hectare park, boasting 45 hectares of biodiverse habitat and a network of pathways, cycle routes and waterways.

9. The smart metered Olympics

Energy giant EDF has this week unveiled a real-time energy monitoring system that has been deployed at some of the most high-profile venues, including the Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome, the basketball arena and the acquatics centre, as well as Tower Bridge and the EDF London Eye. The public can now track energy use at the facilities online as the games take place, while EDF will be offering the new service to businesses from the autumn. 

10. Two weeks of sport and homeworking

Organisers are hoping that London's public transport network will be freed up for visitors as the locals embrace technology that make working from home possible. Telco giant O2 certainly demonstrated what was possible in the runup to the games, getting 2,375 of its 2,500 staff to not turn up to its HQ one day earlier this year. Plenty of firms are now expected to follow suit as companies use the Games to trial emission cutting home-working programs.

This story is reprinted from Business Green with permission.

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