When the UK was chosen to host the 2012 Olympic Games it made a pledge to leave a positive environmental impact that would benefit future generations.
Alumnus Peter Bonfield, who graduated with a degree in Material Science before completing a PhD in wind energy and the design of turbine blades, is playing a key role in making sure the promise is kept.
Peter balances his role of Chief Executive of BRE – a global building consultancy with an ethos of improving sustainability within the industry – with his part-time secondment to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) where he has helped create the sustainable development strategy for the event and turn it into reality.
“Sustainability is absolutely critical to the Olympic Games,” he said. “While the focus is on the Games and what a fantastic event this will be for the UK, we are also committed to leaving a 100 years legacy through the buildings that will help to regenerate this deprived area of East London.”
While some of the Olympic events will be held in existing buildings including Wimbledon and Wembley, many have been built from scratch such as the main stadium and the Olympic Village, which will accommodate 3,000 athletes.
Peter is proud to say that all of the Olympic buildings have achieved an ‘excellent’ rating from BREEAM, the world’s leading environmental assessment methods for buildings, which has never been achieve before by a sporting venue.
He said: “We had to clear lots of old buildings before construction began and more than 98 per cent of the waste created by the demolition was reused in the new buildings. All of the venues exceed current building regulations on energy use by around 50 per cent and by using sustainable concrete we have saved 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.”
As a former National Cycling Champion it comes as no surprise that Peter’s favourite building is the Velodrome cycling arena. He also acted as a trainer for the Women’s Triathlon Team in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
In 2006 Peter set up the BRE Centre for Innovation Construction Materials at the University. Headed by Professor Peter Walker, the centre now employs 20 staff and 48 PhD students and produced research which has directly contributed towards the construction of the Olympic buildings.
Peter also holds the position of visiting professorship and was awarded an honorary degree at last summer’s degree ceremonies.
He said: “I felt very humble and proud to receive the award. I was delighted to be involved in the ceremony, which was slightly less wild than my first one!”