London’s Olympic Park Takes on an Ambitious Plan for Zero-Carbon Sustainability After the 2012 Games

London’s Olympic Park Takes on an Ambitious Plan for Zero-Carbon Sustainability After the 2012 Games
A rendering of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London
(Courtesy London Legacy Development Corporation )

With the frenzied build-out of every Olympic host city comes the inevitable question of what will happen after the city is emptied of athletes and fans. London has been far from apathetic on the matter. Not only will the co-creators of the High Line, James Corner Field Operations, be building a hedge maze and planting cotton-candy-pink cherry blossoms in the south hub of the park, but the Olympic Park Legacy Company has long stressed an initiative to add much-needed family housing to the Olympic estate. Yesterday, news broke that all of the 8,000 homes built on the park will be constructed to zero-carbon standards.

A newly released pamphlet from the London Legacy Development Corporation has outlined a vision of sustainable parklands, residential homes, and even new jobs to shape the future Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park into "an environment that drives behavioral change," as Andrew Altman, chief executive of the LLDC explained in London24. "Your Sustainability Guide to the Queen Elizabeth Park 2030" boasts a future of low-energy homes, bio-diverse habitats, cycling routes, and fewer trips to the landfill.

The move to zero-carbon standards sets a new benchmark for the kind of urban reprogramming precipitated not only by the Olympic games but also by increasingly steroidal development elsewhere in the world. We're interested in seeing how housing issues will be resolved with London's new plans. Though the push towards a greener Olympic Park is indisputably admirable, it is often too easy to let strides in sustainability detract from other pressing social issues. The challenge of developing an entirely new city district requires foresight of mythical proportions, a Robert Moses-like ability to anticipate the needs of a neighborhood that only exists, as of yet, in numbers, words, and renderings. But this also means that now is the time for London to dream big for the future of its Olympic Park. And in many ways, it has.