Sydney Opera House ups environmental ambitions

The iconic Sydney Opera House's environmental sustainability plan proves that even the most challenging, historic buildings can go green.

The Sydney Opera House will target a 5 Star Green Star Performance rating, recycle 85 per cent of operational waste and work to become carbon neutral by 2023, its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2017-19 has revealed.

Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron said in 1954 former NSW Premier JJ Cahill had described the ambition of the building “to help mould a better and more enlightened community”.

“The Environmental Sustainability Plan we are launching today is part of achieving that ambition,” she said, with the 2023 goals coinciding with the building’s 50th anniversary.

“We take our responsibility to the community seriously, and we are proud of all the Opera House has achieved since our first Environmental Sustainability Plan in 2010, including $1 million in electricity savings, increasing our operational waste recycling rates from 20 to 65 per cent, and making Vivid LIVE carbon neutral for a number of years.”

These are ambitious targets but I am confident they are realistic based on the Opera House’s embracing of sustainability, which is brought passionately to life by the people who work here.

Louise Herron, chief executive, Sydney Opera House

Other goals included in the plan include a seven per cent reduction in carbon footprint and 14 per cent cut in energy use by 2019, an 80 per cent construction recycling rate, improving staff sustainable transport use, and committing to four “Ideas at the House” events that relate to sustainability.

“These are ambitious targets but I am confident they are realistic based on the Opera House’s embracing of sustainability, which is brought passionately to life by the people who work here,” Ms Herron said.

Green Building Council of Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said the Opera House had shown that “even the most challenging, iconic and historic buildings can be sustainable”.

“If the Opera House can go green, anything can go green,” Ms Madew said.

Earlier this year Sydney Opera House environment and sustainability manager Naomi Martin wrote for The Fifth Estate on methods of greening non-traditional buildings, detailing the progress the Opera House had made on sustainability.

NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant welcomed the plan, saying it set and example for NSW businesses, “that no matter what you do, it is possible to embed sustainability in your business”.

The plan is being launched Monday night along with an Reconciliation Action Plan.

This story was published with permission from The Fifth Estate.

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