Skip to main content

Main navigation

An orchestra performing on the Concert Hall stage.

Choosing a career with purpose

We all have an obligation to be part of the solution when it comes to climate change. To celebrate Global Goals week, we talk to a Honeywell engineer about how he's helping the Opera House achieve its sustainability goals.

Emma Bombonato Manager of Environmental Sustainability - Sydney Opera House

With climate change one of the most urgent social issues of our time, many young people want to choose a career with purpose – maybe even one that can play a small part to help save the world. If you are taking all of these environmentally-conscious steps at home – and composting your food waste, refusing plastic bags, lugging a keep cup around – why wouldn’t you embed sustainability in your career in the same way?

Younger generations are increasingly well-equipped to negotiate the challenges of the 21st century. According to the Republic of Everyone, Generation Z is the most educated generation on social and environmental issues in history while Generation Y makes up more of the workforce than any other generation. Both generations identify environmental issues as one of their top issues of concern. These include the impact we have on our oceans, climate change and plastic waste.

Managing the day-to-day operations of the Sydney Opera House takes an army of professional and diverse employees – from staging technicians to marketing experts to heritage officers, business analysts, producers, lawyers, coordinators and operators. As we build on our fundamentally sustainable beginnings almost 50 years ago, these individuals all play a critical role in helping to increase our environmental accountability.

Within our workforce of more than 830 staff, Andrew Bottomley, senior solutions specialist at Honeywell, works on-site and has personally trodden the path from climate indifferent to sustainability superstar. After finishing high school, Andrew followed his passion for problem-solving and started a degree in mechanical engineering and physics at The University of Sydney. Five years later, he graduated wanting to make a difference but unsure where to start. Through the Honeywell graduate program, Andrew started putting his university degrees to good use.

“I left school without a career path in mind, so university really helped shape my aspirations. In particular, the Advanced Engineering Program challenged my thinking and showed ways I could make real, positive change. After joining Honeywell’s graduate program, I was propelled into real-world projects and given unique opportunities to explore innovation and sustainability. The support network in Honeywell has been critical to my development.”

Since starting at the Opera House in 2018, Andrew has been part of the team that maintains Honeywell’s Building Management Control System (BMCS) and instrumental in helping the Opera House achieve some of its sustainability goals. Honeywell’s BMCS is the ‘smarts’ of the Opera House – it optimises efficiency by monitoring and controlling the building and its surrounding environment and adapting processes accordingly, all in real-time. An impressive example of this was during the bushfires of 2019-2020, when the BMCS monitored the deteriorating external air quality and adjusted operations to maintain the building’s internal air quality for the comfort and safety of staff and patrons.

With the help of the BMCS, the World Heritage-listed building has reduced its water consumption by 30% and reduced energy use by 20%. This reduction is a feat especially in a building that uses 2500 households’ worth of energy and 60 Olympic swimming pools worth of water in a normal year. In a demonstration of both organisations’ commitment to continued efficiency and a more sustainable future, Honeywell became our first Global Goals Partner earlier this year.

Shortly after Andrew joined the Honeywell team on-site three years ago, the Opera House was awarded the Green Building Councils 5 star Green Star performance rating and certified Carbon Neutral. He says the media coverage the Opera House received was a lightbulb moment, as he realised the impact that a collaboration between somewhere like the Opera House and Honeywell can have.

“The 5 star energy rating was a real, tangible example of the Opera House’s commitment to being more energy efficient and a fascinating intersection between the Opera House’s organisational goals and my work at Honeywell.”

Since then, Andrew has implemented various solutions for achieving sustainability goals through the BMCS, using data to increase energy and resource efficiency at the Opera House. His passion for sustainability is now in full flight. 

“It is encouraging to see how a heritage building like the Sydney Opera House, one of the most widely recognised buildings in the world, can work with a boundary-pushing company like Honeywell to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century.”

Like Andrew’s, our capacity to drive change and make a difference is multiplied when we collaborate with the right person, company or group of people. As we encounter new societal challenges that affect many aspects of how we live our lives, you don’t necessarily need to choose a ‘career in sustainability’ to be part of the solution. If we are spending a third of our adult life at work, why not look for opportunities to bring about positive and lasting change in whichever career we may end up in?

“That’s what I love about working at the Opera House – we are always working together to push boundaries, continually asking ourselves what we can do better. It is exciting work and inspiring to be a part of an organisation that wants to make a difference.” 

Streamread & listen to more at the Opera House