Good news, folks! The Sydney Opera House has become carbon neutral!
Achieving certification against the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard, the Opera House has met its target to reduce emissions five years ahead of schedule.
The Australian icon successfully reduced its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by creating efficiencies in how it manages energy and waste, streamlining day-to-day business and building operations, and offsetting remaining emissions for the year 2017-2018 with help from Major Partner EnergyAustralia.
“Sustainability is in the Opera House’s DNA,” said Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM.
“Architect Jørn Utzon incorporated sustainable design into the fabric of the building in the 1960s. We aim to honour and enhance this legacy by embedding sustainable thinking into everything we do.
“Each year the Opera House hosts thousands of events and serves millions of meals – producing 5000 cubic metres of waste and using electricity equivalent to 2500 households (16 gigawatts).
“It’s our responsibility to find innovative solutions to reduce our carbon footprint and inspire our community to do the same.”
The next step in the Opera House’s ambitious Environmental Sustainability Plan (2017-2019) is to reduce its energy use by 20 per cent from baseline, achieve 85 per cent recycling of operational waste; achieve a 5 Star Green Star Performance Rating; and maintain its certified carbon neutral status year-on-year in time for its 50th anniversary in 2023.
Key drivers to the Opera House’s carbon neutral certification include:
Reducing electricity use by 14 per cent from baseline:
- Replacing incandescent bulbs in the Opera House’s Concert Hall with custom LED lights to achieve a 75 per cent reduction in electricity consumption (2014).
- Implementing a new building management control system to monitor energy and water use and manage climate control (2017).
- Optimising the heating and cooling of the building by replacing chiller units connected to the Opera House’s pioneering seawater cooling system (2017) resulting in a 9 per cent energy reduction.
Increasing the Opera House’s waste recycling rate from 25 per cent to 60 per cent:
- Implementing a new waste management program, including the introduction of new recycling streams and transferring food waste which would have otherwise gone to landfill to an organics facility to be turned into energy (2017).
- Rolling out an educational program on waste management for onboarding staff and contractors.
Offsetting remaining emissions with help from EnergyAustralia
- Investing in NCOS-certified international emissions reduction projects and offset projects with environmental organisations Greenfleet and SouthPole. This includes supporting SouthPole’s project EcoAustralia which combines biodiversity conservation in the Annya State Forest (VIC) with international emissions reduction.