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Photo – Sean Fennessy for The Design Files.

The Sydney Opera House Goes Carbon Neutral

Sally Tabart
24th September, 2018

Tonight, the Australian icon will light its sails green to celebrate achieving carbon neutrality!

The Sydney Opera House has been looked to worldwide as an icon for innovation in architecture and design since the 1960s. Today, the major Australian landmark can now add leadership in sustainability to its impressive legacy.

The sails of the Sydney Opera House will tonight be illuminated green to celebrate becoming carbon neutral. Achieving some pretty incredible sustainability targets, the internationally renowned structure has reduced emissions five years ahead of schedule and achieved certification against the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS), with the help from major partner EnergyAustralia.

‘Sustainability is in the Opera House’s DNA,’ said Sydney Opera House CEO, Louise Herron AM, who went on to explain that ‘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.’

So what does achieving carbon neutrality for one of the world’s major event spaces actually look like?

Electricity use has been reduced by swapping incandescent bulbs in the Concert Hall for custom LED lights to achieve a 75% reduction in electricity consumption; a new control system to monitor energy use and climate control has been implemented; and old-fashioned chiller units have been replaced by a pioneering seawater cooling system, resulting in a 9% energy reduction.

In addition to this, the Opera House’s waste recycling rate has more than doubled from 25% to 60%, and new staff education systems are being rolled out. Advanced waste management programs have been introduced, including new recycling streams and the transfer of food waste (which would have otherwise have gone to landfill) to an organics facility to be turned into energy.

In a time where our some of the most influential people in the world are attempting to halt environmental progress, we need alternate leaders to look to. The Opera House belongs to all Australians, and it’s heartening to see the team behind our nation’s most beloved building stepping up to take action when we need it most.

Find out more about the Environmental Sustainability Plan at the Opera House here

Sally Tabart
24th September, 2018

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net