Towards a greener Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House has set ambitious recycling targets within its new Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP).

Launched on 1 August, the ESP commits the World Heritage-listed building to achieving an 80 per cent recycling rate for construction works as part of its Decade of Renewal, a program of works that will upgrade the Opera House for future generations of artists, performers, audiences and visitors.

It also sets a goal of recycling 85 per cent of operational waste by 2023.

In addition, the ESP targets a 15 per cent energy saving and a 7 per cent greenhouse gas reduction by 2019. The Opera House received a 4 Star Green Star Performance rating from the Green Building Council of Australia in 2015 – a rare achievement for a heritage building. By its 50th anniversary in 2023, the Opera House is aiming to achieve a 5 Star Green Star rating.

Since launching its first sustainability plan in 2010, the Opera House has:

  • Saved $1 million in electricity costs through improved energy efficiency;
  • Ensured that four of the past five Vivid LIVE festivals have been certified carbon neutral;
  • Increased waste recycling from 20 per cent to 65 per cent; and
  • Introduced food recycling for charities.

The Opera House’s architect, Jørn Utzon, incorporated sustainable design elements such as a seawater-cooling system into the building, which first opened in 1973. The new Environmental Sustainability Plan 2017 –2019 has been devised to build on that legacy.

Announcing the ESP, Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said: “We take our responsibility to the community seriously, and we are proud of all the Opera House has achieved since our first Environmental Sustainability Plan in 2010, including $1million in electricity savings, increasing our operational waste recycling rates from 20 to 65% and making Vivid LIVE carbon neutral for a number of years.

“Our aim by our 50th anniversary in 2023 includes achieving a 5 Star Green Star Performance rating, building on our 4 star rating achieved in 2015, and recycling 85% of our operational waste,” she added.

The plan is available on the Sydney Opera House website.

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