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Sydney Opera House achieves world-leading sustainable performance rating

Australia’s most famous building receives top sustainability certification from leading authority on sustainable buildings and communities

The Sydney Opera House has been awarded a 6 Star Green Star Performance rating by the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA), representing world leadership in environmental and social sustainability. It is one of the first World Heritage-listed buildings globally to have earned this highest possible certification.

Green Star is an internationally recognised Australian sustainability rating and certification system that measures the operational performance of buildings against nine environmental categories. The 6 Star rating is a major milestone for the Opera House in its long-term sustainability efforts, which include:

  • Maintaining carbon neutral status year-on-year since 2018
  • Retrofitting the building with new technology to monitor energy, water and indoor environment quality, enabled by Opera House Global Goals partner Honeywell Building Technologies
  • Reducing electricity and water usage by about 20% since 2018
  • Increasing operational waste recycling rate from 55% to more than 90%
  • Diverting more than 90% of major building works construction waste from landfill
  • Installing an artificial reef in the waters around Bennelong Point to restore habitat and increase marine biodiversity
  • Providing a stage for social and community engagement projects including From Our House to Yours, a digital program connecting with audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic

“The Opera House’s 6 Star Green Star certification highlights the remarkable progress this world-famous building has made in reducing its environmental impact as well as its broader commitment to long-term sustainability. The leadership and innovation exhibited by the Opera House demonstrates how sustainable building transformations can successfully address the challenges of our time, ensuring a positive and lasting impact on current and future generations,” said NSW Minister for the Arts and Minister for Music and Night-time Economy, The Hon John Graham MLC.

“The Opera House is the most recognised and loved building in Australia. The community looks to us to provide leadership on the issues that matter. This includes taking positive climate action and improving equity, inclusion and access for everyone. We hope our focus on sustainability, which is part of the Opera House’s DNA, will help inspire organisations everywhere, big and small, to create positive change,” said Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM.

“The Opera House is so much more than one of the world's most iconic performance spaces – it's a world leader in operational sustainability too. This energy efficient, heritage listed, public building has gone from a 4 Star Green Star Performance rating for best practice in 2015, to a 6 Star Green Star rating for world leadership in 2023. This is proof that any building – old or new, big or small – can reach the highest sustainability outcomes. This achievement deserves a standing ovation, and we thank the Opera House for its leadership,” added Green Building Council of Australia CEO Davina Rooney.

Today’s announcement is the realisation of one of the most ambitious goals in the Opera House’s latest 2020-23 Environmental Action Plan. Over the past ten years, Australia’s icon has made a series of environmental and social sustainability achievements, including:

  • Switching to 100% renewable electricity
  • Eliminating single-use plastic takeaway packaging from all venues and restaurants
  • Diverting 95% of event waste from landfill for Vivid LIVE and outdoor concerts in 2022 (and on track for 2023)
  • Completing major building improvements including new accessible passageways, lifts and facilities and creating a new Centre for Creativity that provides hands-on creative experiences for all ages
  • Providing a stage for diverse artists and climate conversations such as THAW, a striking outdoor installation work by Legs on the Wall as part of Sydney Festival, where artists performed on top of a 2.7-tonne piece of ice hanging suspended above Sydney Harbour
  • Updating venues and facilities with new and energy efficient technology to reduce lighting consumption
  • Investing in nature-based projects like tree planting for koala habitat in the Northern Rivers or projects that support First Nations communities in the Northern Territory as part of the Opera House’s carbon neutral certification

The Opera House is also developing a roadmap to become climate positive by 2030. This includes transitioning the building to be fully electric and exploring new onsite sustainable technologies such as battery storage.

Further information on the Opera House’s environmental sustainability actions.