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 2017 – 2019 builds on that legacy.
As a source of inspiration, the Opera House aims to be a leader in environmental and social sustainability.
Researchers Giglia Beretta and Professor David Booth from UTS pictured with Emma Bombonato, Sydney Opera House’s Environmental Sustainability Manager monitoring artificial reefs along the sea wall.
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 Sustainable Event Management Certification, in line with International Standard (ISO 20121).
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.
The Concert Hall lit green. Photo: Tim da Rin.
A high complexity reef pod. Photo: Alex Goad.
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.
This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.
To help redress the imbalance and increase marine biodiversity, the Opera House has embarked on an innovate three-year research project to install a modular artificial reef underwater around Bennelong Point.
Opera House Artificial Reef Project
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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 under construction in Wagga Wagga.
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.