The Environment and Sports – ERG’s Efforts for Sustainable Venues

ERG is perhaps best known for its work in environmental restoration, mitigation and environmental services. What you may not know is that we are also creating a sustainable, state of the art, sports-based training, research, performance, technology and sports science center. The International Sports Institute (ISI) is being designed using energy efficient low-impact materials which place environmental sustainability at the fore. As part of the development of the project, ERG will employ environmental restoration techniques to lessen the effects of environmental hazards on the project site and will work to reduce environmental stress on sports performance once the ISI is open.

ERG believes sports and environmental protection go hand-in-hand. Today’s athletes suffer from the pollution of our air, land and water from industrial and chemical processes that interfere with performance. The medical literature shows the adverse effects of sulfur and nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone, and other pollutants on an athlete’s breathing, especially among asthmatics. Environmental restoration and native plantings absorb environmental pollutants and help improve air quality. The athlete benefits from both a health perspective and an aesthetic, psychological benefit of participating in a clean sports environment.

Sustainability in sports is dependent upon a clean environment. Water pollution prevents successful training for water sports participants and triathletes, including swimming, rowing and surfing. Restoration of environmental quality, through wetland plantings, which filter pollutants from land runoff, can help restore waterways for sports and recreation participants. In the past, Olympic Games have been held in the polluted harbors of Barcelona, Rio de Janiero and Buenos Aires. Recently however, the Olympic movement has begun to set environmental standards for its competitive venues.

In fact, the 2012 Olympics in London has an environmental sustainability plan, including 5 key themes:

1. Climate change: minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring legacy facilities are able to cope with the impacts of climate change.

2. Waste: minimizing waste at every stage of the project, ensuring no waste is sent to landfill during Games-time, and encouraging the development of new waste processing infrastructure in East London.

3. Biodiversity: minimizing the impact of the Games on wildlife and their habitats in and around Games venues, leaving a legacy of enhanced habitats where we can, e.g. the Olympic Park.

4. Inclusion: Promoting access for all and celebrating the diversity of London and the UK, creating new employment, training and business opportunities.

5. Healthy living: Inspiring people across the country to take up sport and develop active, healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

After the Games, the Olympic Park will be transformed into one of the largest urban parks created in Europe for more than 150 years. The new park will be connected to the tidal Thames Estuary to the south and the Hertfordshire countryside to the north. The canals and waterways of the River Lea will be cleaned and widened, and the natural floodplains of the area will be restored to provide a new wetland habitat for wildlife for birdwatchers and ecologists to enjoy. The park will be planted with native species, including oak, ash, willow, birch, hazel, holly, blackthorn and hawthorn, providing a home for wildlife in the middle of the city. The world-class sports facilities will be adapted for use by sports clubs and the local community as well as elite athletes. New playing fields sitting alongside these facilities will be adapted for community use.

Our mission in the development of the ISI is in line with the goals of the Olympic Park.

At ERG, we think linking environmental sustainability and sports makes sense. We’d like to hear your thoughts…

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