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Can London’s 2012 Olympics give regeneration and sustainability a sporting chance?

Real estate medal winners revealed in new Jones Lang LaSalle research paper

Commenting on the paper, Winning Gold for Green, Katie Kopec, head of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Development and Asset Strategy team said; “International sporting events have been used to catalyse major regeneration and infrastructure projects and none more so than the Olympic Games.  The Games generate the momentum through a set deadline to redefine urban landscapes and drive innovation.  It is clear that sustainable development is now at the heart of the regeneration surrounding major sporting events and they have the potential to act as a test bed for new processes and technologies.”
Katie continued; “In our view, although the historic measures of success such as economic benefits still stand true (see Editors Notes below), previous research by Jones Lang LaSalle, has pointed to the need for benefits to be set in the context of a much broader vision. For London, a mature global city, the pure economic benefits will be relatively low but the overall opportunity to regenerate a new quarter for London is massive and impacts a much wider range of social and environmental benefits.”
Nick Gibbins, associate director in Jones Lang LaSalle’s Sustainability Services team added; “The desire for regeneration to drive place creation and new communities must be balanced against future demand. The reality is that no amount of sustainable building and infrastructure investment will guarantee the Olympic park and venues a long term legacy if the host city is too small to generate the necessary demand to absorb the new community and facilities.”
Jones Lang LaSalle therefore believes that real benefits for sustainable construction can be harnessed by international sporting events in three key ways:
• Innovation - Scale allows the Games to be uniquely placed to offer innovative approaches to common challenges on regeneration projects, particularly in the field of sustainability. In the current market of limited development, the ability to test the commercial viability of innovative technology and systems is imperative. Future measures therefore, should focus on the level of “pull through” an event will have on the broader industry.

• Demonstration - Major sporting events have the opportunity to prove that new approaches to development challenges are possible in regeneration schemes.  Regeneration activity in East London has and will serve as a potent demonstrator of possibilities at other UK and international regeneration schemes, and we have already witnessed UK commercial developers and occupiers adapting Olympic standards. 

• Leadership - Although the momentum of the Olympics as an event cannot and will not be replicated elsewhere in the UK – the power of good leadership has been critical in driving innovation on site. Long term strategic leadership has been perfectly exemplified through the case of the CHHP, where the development of long term, public/private partnerships, allows commercial practices to stack up and generate returns.
Katie Kopec concluded; “Driving down costs and converting previously unreachable sustainability standards into the commercial mainstream will undoubtedly be a big benefit to the commercial real estate industry.  Now London's Olympic sustainability platform has been set, the real Olympic legacy needs to follow to secure the wholesale regeneration benefits well beyond 2012.”

Alan Campbell, the official British Rowing Champion who represented Great Britain in the Men´s Single Sculls final at the Beijing Games 2008, joined Jones Lang LaSalle at  the Winning Gold for Green Seminar  which was held at the firm’s Hanover Square offices today (24th June 2009).  Alan offered his thoughts on the impact of the Olympics and what it means for London to host the 2012 Games.
Editors Notes
• Economic benefits – GDP is often cited to illustrate the economic impact of a major sporting event.  Beijing for example was experiencing 14.5% year on year growth between 2001 and 2007, the Olympics was estimated to contribute 1%.

• Urban regeneration – Examples include the re-use of venues and the Olympic village developments into housing, sporting and community legacies.  In addition, transport improvements such as the movement of two rail lines in Barcelona that were previously cutting off the City from the Olympic Village area.

• Tourism and branding – The Beijing Olympics were viewed as China’s coming out party.  Similarly, although London has an already well established reputation, VisitBritain estimate that the London Olympics will benefit the UK inbound visitor economy by about £2 billion between 2008 and 2017, with two thirds of that generated post Games.

• Environmental benefits – Environmental and sustainable benefits were a pivotal part in the London Bid, as they were in Beijing.  Historically, although the Seoul Olympics allowed the City to tackle air pollution, it was probably the Sydney Olympics which first truly capitalised the event to clean up contaminated land and incorporate renewable energy systems and water facilities.