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Opera House marks World Environment Day with significant sustainability progress

June 6, 2019 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

To coincide with the United Nations’ World Environment Day, the Sydney Opera House has announced a number of sustainability achievements and projects.

Together, the initiatives announced today 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% reduction in energy use have enabled the Opera House to achieve the certification.

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. Images and video footage of the recent reef installation are available to download here.

Renewable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed
The Opera House has signed an industry-leading Power Purchase Agreement (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% of the Opera House’s yearly energy consumption of 16 gigawatt hours (equivalent to 2,500 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.

Ian Cashen, Sydney Opera House Executive Director of Building said: “The Opera House is Australia’s first heritage-listed building to commit to this innovative energy retail model, joining a growing number of high-profile organisations leading the way towards a low carbon future through investment in large-scale renewable projects.

“This deal brings us another step closer to our long-term renewable energy goals and will deliver significant savings in operational costs over its seven-year period.”

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.”

Sydney Opera House Environmental Sustainability Manager Emma Bombonato added: “Each of the initiatives announced today are essential to the Opera House’s long-term sustainability strategy. The achievement of our 5 Star Green Star rating reflects the significant progress we have made in reducing our own environmental impact. At the same time, the installation of the artificial reef is an example of our broader commitment to protecting and preserving the environment in action. As we look to the future, innovative approaches such as PPAs are essential to secure long-term, sustainable renewable energy sources, so it’s exciting to be involved at the early stages of these projects.”

To celebrate World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, Sydney Opera House Tours taking place between the 5th – 8th June will include additional information on the Opera House’s latest environmental sustainability initiatives.

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