From the solar-powered hot water system in the Olympic Village to the development of the 450-hectare Millennium Parklands, the Olympic Games Sydney 2000 left a substantial environmental legacy for the city for the foreseeable future and beyond.
All venues were designed with a distinct focus on using materials with lower environmental impact, minimising waste, controlling pollution and utilising renewable energy where possible. The planning for Sydney 2000 led to the establishment of Australia’s first large-scale urban water recycling system, which continues to save about 850 million litres of drinking water every year.
One of the key aims of the Organising Committee was to use the opportunities presented by the Games to conduct a variety of conservation and restoration activities across Sydney. These included cleaning 160 hectares of waterways and surrounding areas to remove nine million cubic metres of rubbish, planting 100,000 shrubs and 7,000 trees as part of the redevelopment of Homebush Bay, and reclaiming more than 180 hectares of land from degraded industrial wasteland to provide new habitats for endangered frog and migratory bird species. It is believed that much of this work would not have taken place had Sydney not been awarded the Games.
The efforts of the Sydney 2000 Organising Committee to protect the environment have since been recognised internationally, being awarded the United Nations Global Roll of Honour in 2001. The environmental guidelines for the Sydney Games were adopted by the IOC as a benchmark for host cities in the first decade of the 21st century.