Olympic Stadium Wrap: Sustainability

The Olympic Stadium wrap is “pvc-free.”
The processes used to make it are “eco-friendly.”
The London Organizing Committee of Olympic Games is committed to hosting “sustainable games.”
What does all of this mean?

For the Olympic committee, it means holding “Games guided by the principle that the world should live within its means.” They’ve embraced several initiatives – related to venue, travel, food, and waste — to support this mission. In regards to venues, LOCOG says that: “Where possible we have used existing venues…Where there is a legacy need we have built new venues – the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome and where there is no need, we have built temporary venues in iconic places…”

8-3-walkway“A pioneering walkway leading to the Olympic Park…lit round-the-clock by the footsteps of spectators.”Earth911.com
(Photo credit: Pavegen Systems Ltd.)

Populous, the architects behind the stadium, designed the venue for this stated “legacy need.” During the Games, the Stadium will seat 80,000 spectators. After the Olympics, the upper tier of the Stadium will be removed – that’s right, the whole stadium is built to be de-constructable – to transform it into a smaller venue (seating 20,000) – for continued use by the people of London.

Plus – it’s the lightest stadium ever built, according to Architect Magazine: “The steel used in London’s Olympic Stadium was sourced in a sustainable manner. The subcontractor obtained many of the tubular members that make up the roof structure from unused steel sections intended for a Russian oil pipeline.
“When completed, the elliptical-shaped stadium covered a 40-acre footprint with just 10,000 metric tons (11,023 tons) of structural steel—by far the lightest Olympic Stadium ever built. In comparison, the 91,000-seat Beijing National Stadium (the Bird’s Nest) for the 2008 Summer Games covered a 64-acre footprint and used 100,000 metric tons (110,231 tons).” – Aaron Seward for Architect Magazine

For Dow, Rainier, and Cooley, this eco-conscious mission means using sustainable production (materials and processes) to make the Stadium wrap:

Fun Fact:
99% of waste from the construction of the Olympic Park was reclaimed. London 2012 aims to be the “first zero-waste games.”
  • The wrap includes resins made by Dow’s Performance Plastics Division and required fewer raw materials to manufacture.
  • The wrap includes polyester fabric with a low-density Polyethylene coating.
  • The wrap is up to 35 percent lighter and has a 20 percent lower carbon footprint when compared to conventional materials, according to Cooley Group.
  • UV-curable inks replaced conventional inks to reduce emissions during the printing process and eliminated volatile organic compounds (VOC).

That last part—the UV-curable inks—is daily practice here at Rainier. We only use UV cured water soluble inks in our printers. Read more about Rainier’s Sustainability Initiative and daily practices here.

But sustainability goes beyond materials and processes. A true holistic approach to sustainability in manufacturing means considering “lifecycle” – where these materials come from, how they are used… and where will they go.

The Olympic Stadium will be repurposed and continue to fill a need – and it’s also in the plans for the wrap. Discussions are being held regarding the best way to repurpose the wrap post-Games. The intent is to use the panels for shelter someplace where it’s needed. The hardware used to hang the wrap will be recycled in Europe following the Games, helping London 2012 reach their goal of being the first “zero-waste games”

We’re grateful that LOCOG made sustainability a focus of the Games this year, and we hope it’ll become expected practice for future Olympics.


photo credit: iStock user Johnny Greig



Photo courtesy of Rainier

“Olympic stadium, with a roof made of 2,500 tons of steel tubing from recycled gas pipelines, is one example of sustainable design that is part of London’s 500-acre Olympic park.”

(from Energy.gov’s article “2012 London Olympics Go for the Green with Its Energy Efficient, Sustainable, and Recyclable Design”)