On United Nations’ World Environment Day, the Sydney Opera House has announced three landmark sustainability achievements and projects; earning a 5 Star Green Star rating, installation of pioneering artificial reef and an industry-leading renewable power purchase agreement to invest its annual $2.4 million electricity spend in sourcing power from renewable power projects in NSW.
Together, the initiatives represent an important step forward in the Opera House’s long-term environmental strategy, highlighting both the progress and future commitments made by the World Heritage-listed building to reduce its impact and inspire greater environmental awareness.
Achievement of GBCA 5 Star Green Star rating
The Opera House has been awarded a 5 star Green Star performance rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), becoming one of the first World Heritage-listed buildings globally to achieve the certification. A number of successes including the Opera House’s recent Carbon Neutral certification, implementation of a new waste management program, efficiencies in water use and a more than 9 per cent reduction in energy use have enabled the Opera House to achieve the certification.
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Artificial reef installed on Bennelong Point
After first announcing the project in 2017, a series of modular artificial reefs have now been installed alongside the Opera House sea wall. The pioneering project, led by UTS Professor of Marine Ecology David Booth and funded through a NSW Government Environmental Trust Restoration & Rehabilitation grant, aims to explore new ways to increase marine biodiversity and support native species in Sydney Harbour.
The newly installed artificial reef is made up of eight pods containing three hexagonal-shaped units placed underwater around Bennelong Point. Created by Reef Design Lab, the pods are constructed from marine-grade steel and concrete and feature elements of 3D printed design. The structures will become encrusted with seaweed and sea life, providing a home for smaller fish species.
Renewable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed
The Opera House has signed an industry-leading PPA with energy retailer Flow Power to invest its annual $2.4 million electricity spend in sourcing power from renewable power projects. Under the seven-year agreement, more than 85 per cent of the Opera House’s yearly energy consumption of 16 gigawatt hours (equivalent to 2500 households) will be matched with available supply from NSW wind and solar projects, including Sapphire Wind Farm in Glenn Innes and the Bomen Solar Farm under construction in Wagga Wagga.
Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said, “As the symbol of Australia, it is important that the Opera House leads by example. Certifications such as the GBCA’s Green Star are setting a new benchmark for buildings to reach when it comes to environmental efficiency. By demonstrating what is possible with a World Heritage-listed building such as the Opera House, I hope this will inspire action by other buildings, old and new, to make positive changes to reduce their impact on the environment.”
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