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Environmental sustainability

Sustainability is in our DNA. For thousands of years, the Gadigal people would come to Bennelong Point to meet, share stories and music. Their land management ensured the preservation of their food sources.

The Opera House’s architect, Jørn Utzon, incorporated sustainable design elements such as a seawater-cooling system into the building which opened in 1973. The Environmental Sustainability Plan 2020-2023 builds on that legacy.

Our latest Environmental Action Plan and the Global Goals

The Sydney Opera House has committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which provide a roadmap to address the world’s most pressing challenges by 2030, including climate change, inequality and education. This commitment is reflected in our fourth Environmental Action Plan (2020-23), which supports global efforts to safeguard our natural environment – and sets out a number of ambitious targets:

  • Achieve a 6 Star Green Star Performance Rating from the GBCA;
  • Eliminate single-use plastic packaging from all venues and restaurants;
  • Take steps to become climate positive; and
  • Achieve compliance to the International Standard for Sustainable Event Management (ISO20121).

As a source of inspiration, the Opera House aims to be a leader in environmental and social sustainability.

Achievement of GBCA 6 Star Green Star rating

The Sydney Opera House has been awarded a 6-star Green Star performance rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), representing world leadership in environmental and social sustainability operations. Key sustainability achievements include reducing emissions by 26%, moving to 100% renewable energy and diverting over 90% of event waste from landfill. The implementation of new energy and water-saving technology, including innovations from Honeywell Building Technologies, has helped the Opera House achieve these significant milestones.

Maintaining carbon neutral certification is a requirement for a 6-star Green Star Rating. Find out more in our Public Disclosure Statement.

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 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 have become encrusted with seaweed and sea life, providing a home for smaller fish species. In 2022, we made the special discovery of an endangered species, White’s Seahorse, in the reef. It’s rare to see seahorses in this part of the harbour as their natural habitats are relatively scarce.

This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust

Metal structures under water.
High-complexity reef pod installed in May 2019

Artificial Reef Project

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 – a total investment of more than $16 million.

Under the industry-leading 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 in Wagga Wagga.

Greening when cleaning the House

Staff from Sydney Opera House’s Building & Development team present projects which have been implemented to reduce our energy consumption. Projects covered include the air conditioning system utilising sea water, changing building management and control systems, and heritage sensitive energy efficient lighting for theatres and stage lighting.

More information