Dear Green Place
One of the central pieces of Glasgow’s plans for next month’s Commonwealth Games is the promise of it being a “home from home” for 6,500 visiting competitors.
Set in the city’s East End, the Athletes’ Village will include everything from shops, medical facilities and recreational areas and, as part of the Games’ legacy for the area, post 2014 will aid regeneration by being transformed into private and social housing and a 120-bed care home.
But the village is also a key part of Glasgow 2014’s plans to deliver a sustainable event. Energy consumption is being kept to a minimum with the installation of photovoltaic panels, a combined heat and power plant and water flow control.
The Energy Centre will provide hot water for the homes as well as the Emirates Arena and Chris Hoy Velodrome and 260,000 items of furniture, fittings and equipment are being reused after their deployment in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London two years ago.
Gareth Talbot, Glasgow 2014’s environment and sustainability manager, said the village is incredibly important – “a key part of how we deliver a sustainable Commonwealth Games.”
But the effort to make the Games green, and indeed the city, does not stop there. In 2011, HSBC named the city as the first green energy ‘super city’ in Scotland, based on the growing research and engineering expertise there.
The city was also in the running to be the European Green Capital of 2015, although it lost out to Bristol and when in May it was confirmed that the All Energy conference, a major event on the calendar of the renewables industry would be moving from Aberdeen to Scotland’s largest city as of next year, council leader Gordon Matheson, said the move was a natural one.
“As the UK’s first green energy super-city,” he said, “Glasgow truly is the perfect home for the UK’s largest renewable energy event.”
Since it was first announced as the official bid city for Scotland in 2005 and confirmed as the host in 2007, Talbot said the Games had “significant expectations to deliver a meaningfully sustainable Commonwealth Games.”
He said: “At the bid stage we recognised the importance of sustainability, and this has been highlighted by the preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Games, and in the development of our Environment and Sustainability and Procurement Sustainability Policies.
“Sustainability is at the core of all our decisions, and not an ‘added extra’ or bolted-on strategy; it is about making positive and lasting changes in the way we use natural and human resources to improve quality of life for all; now and in the future.
“In terms of planning and staging the 2014 Commonwealth Games, this means ensuring we avoid potential negative impacts on the environment; encourage healthy living; promote responsible sourcing; encourage more sustainable behaviour; and leave a positive legacy.”
Over the last five years, the organising committee have put in place measures to ensure cleaner energy, transport and venues.
There has been a focus on renovating existing venues, which instantly reduces construction costs, use of materials and the associated emissions from that. In all, 70 per cent of the venues, such as Hampden and Celtic Park, existed before work on the Games began.
In transport as well, Talbot said Ford had provided more than 1,100 low emission vehicles, as well as a dedicated line-up of Ford Focus electric vehicles. BP, which has also produced its own Target Neutral carbon management plan, is providing the fuel which it says is less polluting than conventional petrol.
This is one of the areas that Talbot said the Games had an aim to “leave a positive legacy”, with the target of a continued shift towards sustainable modes of transport.
The Games themselves will offer an opportunity to help influence the behaviour of spectators and competitors alike and Talbot said: “There’s an enormous expectation on us to deliver a sustainable Commonwealth Games – we have made commitments to do so and we want to meet these commitments.
“I believe there is a definite interest for sponsors, spectators, athletes and citizens to be associated with a sustainable Commonwealth Games – one that meets its commitments in a demonstrable way, and one that makes proper use of public funds.
“Further engagement can be done in many ways – a good example is the BP Target Neutral programme, which has been a direct way to engage with our spectators and show them how they can help us deliver a meaningfully sustainable Games.
“Also, making it easy for spectators to recycle at venues is incredibly important, not just to help us meet our recycling targets, but to also act as an educational process that they can take back to their own homes.”
The sustainability aim is being applied far wider than just the Games and its associated venues, though.
Glasgow City Council has started a project to examine whether its own derelict and vacant sites could be turned into mini solar farms.
The £24m Future City/Glasgow project is conducting a mapping exercise in partnership with Strathclyde University and will take in nearly 400 council-owned sites across almost 550 hectares, assessing them for constraints including access to the National Grid and, naturally for a solar farm, whether parts of the site are in the shade.
Some of the sites may have been earmarked previously to be sold off by the council but the sales have stalled because of the economic downturn. Other sites would be too expensive to build on but could prove suitable for ground-mounted photovoltaic panels to be installed.
Launching the project, Councillor Alastair Watson, the council’s executive member for engineering and innovation, said: “This project aims to identify opportunities for communities, the council and companies to bring derelict gap sites back into use as productive solar farms generating electricity.
“Glasgow may not be the sunniest city in the world but there are already hundreds of solar arrays on buildings around the city which can harness diffused sunlight to generate electricity even when it’s cloudy.”
While Glasgow will not be European Green Capital next year, it has not stopped the city’s plans. As part of its commitments that saw it made a finalist, next year will be Glasgow’s Green Year, with a series of events being held celebrating the city.
It will be celebrating Glasgow’s natural assets including its parks, rivers and waterways; green science and innovation and ‘green change’, which will look at issues including climate change, modal shift in transport and improving air quality.
The Sustainable Glasgow Initiative has committed the city to reducing carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 and the city has been actively pursuing more renewable energy.
Glasgow already has one 3MW wind turbine on the Cathkin Braes developed by the council with SSE, which produced 6,897MW between March and December last year. It is investigating other sites for further development and more work is being carried out on the feasibility of using vertical turbines in parks across the city as well as the installation of six small hydro schemes at locations including two on the Clyde and two on the Kelvin.
Ground source heat pumps are now considered for all new school developments and the council is also, in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University, investigating recovering heat from flooded mines which could be used to heat properties in the north of the city.
A new Green Jobs Strategy is due to go to a future board meeting of Sustainable Glasgow to demonstrate how the environmental work can help bolster the city’s economic performance as well.
Matheson, who is also chairman of Sustainable Glasgow, said: “Glasgow has pledged to cut its carbon emissions and become one of the most sustainable and resilient cities in Europe.
“We are striving to achieve this by adopting measures on a number of fronts, from working with the Rockefeller Foundation to minimise and mitigate the effects of climate change on the city, to setting up our own Energy Services Company (GLESco) and creating opportunities for more community-based renewable energy projects across the city.
“Glasgow’s Green Year in 2015 will inspire citizens, communities, businesses and industry to help us preserve the city for future generations by becoming more environmentally aware.”
He adds: “Supporting the city’s green jobs sector is another strand of our strategy along with equipping our young people with the skills and qualifications sought by employers in this expanding field of employment.
“No one can afford to ignore the effects of climate change and Glasgow is determined to play its part by reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality and fostering the creation of more renewable energy projects in the city.”
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