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London 2012: Olympics a massive opportunity to learn how to set targets

by Mel Starrs on December 15, 2009

in Accreditation, Funding & Targets

Long-time friend of the blog, Andrew Kinsey, Senior Sustainability Manager at the Athletes Village for Bovis Lend Lease, kindly invited myself and a few colleagues to have a nosey around the Athlete’s Village back at the beginning of November.
We had fantastic luck with the weather as you can see from the picture, which is a view from the rooftop viewing platform. The site is quite incredible. I know some of you will have managed to see round it during Open House in the summer, but I was not prepared for the scale of the place. It’s HUGE.

It’s also one of the cleanest, best maintained and non-threatening sites I’ve ever been on. No Pirelli calendars, builder’s butt cleavage nor wolf whistles to be witnessed. And the sense of industry? It was like being in a Richard Scarry picture book – diggers and workmen scurrying around, with a recession-busting productive atmosphere all round.

Andrew introduced us to some of the initiatives he’s been pushing forward, especially with regards to supply chain management from a sustainability perspective. He has been instrumental in driving forward the Achilles Building Confidence Contractor Accreditation with great success:

“Working in partnership with Bovis Lend Lease, Achilles has developed BuildingConfidence – a supplier pre-qualification and accreditation service for the UK construction industry.

BuildingConfidence provides benefits to buyers and suppliers by using:

  • Web-based technologies to increase operational efficiencies and reduce the costs associated with pre-qualification for clients, major contractors and their suppliers
  • On-site audits with industry leading auditors to help suppliers measure their own performance and share this data with their clients and major contractors.

BuildingConfidence is quickly becoming recognised as the standard for supplier excellence within the industry. Major contractors are using the service to evaluate their supply chains, drive up performance and forge longer lasting relationships with key suppliers.”

My timing for this post is impeccable, as two stories are in the news which now make much more sense and impact on me, having now visited the site.

Firstly the news that Nord’s substation has been completed. This project is the backbone of the development being, quite literally, the powerhouse for the development:

Its hard, dark, saturnine surface recalls the language of 19th century bridge and tunnel construction, examples of which are still a common feature of this post-industrial landscape. It also proves highly light reflective, with the effect that the building’s chiselled geometry is transformed into a series of starkly contrasting planes of light and shadow. This effect is made richer still by the brick’s slyly differentiated detailing. What at first appears to be an unmodulated surface proves, on closer inspection, to be divided into three strata of escalating intricacy.

The comments posted to the article show equal measures of love and hate for the building itself – a marmite of a building, if you will. I like it, but then, I’m an M&E engineer at heart – and it’s a big box around some M&E kit. What’s not to love?

The second piece of news is a report from the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012. Building magazine chose to run with the (not) shocking news that Zaha’s Aquatic Centre is not a particularly green building. Is anyone surprised by this?

The Water Cube in Beijing comprised just one quarter of the materials used by the 2012 Aquatic centre, a report examining the carbon footprint of the London 2012 Games has found.

Reading the report itself, it is clear that ‘on the ground’ a lot has been achieved. Which leads me back to the title of this post. London 2012 is a massive opportunity to test and make reality checks on aspirational targets which were set before we knew what was possible. Some targets we will meet or exceed, others we will have to revise. But the petri dish we are being offered is a fabulous opportunity to make leaps and bounds forward in our collective knowledge.

Thanks again to Andrew for being a great host!

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