Published On: May 26th, 2023

Recent news has announced that the Sydney Opera House has been awarded a 6-star ‘Green Star’ rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. The Opera House is one of the first UNESCO World Heritage buildings to receive such a significant rating, leading by example for future sustainable planning.

Back in 1973 when the Sydney Opera House first opened, architect Jørn Utzon ensured sustainability was embedded within its construction. By creating a seawater cooling system, the infrastructure was able to optimise temperature control of the building, whilst simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.

So, what makes the Opera House so ‘green’ today?

Imagine how much waste is produced each week by individual households across NSW, and now think even bigger! Home to over 1600 performances each year, the Opera House is challenged by huge amounts of operational waste and energy usage. However, their recent press release has demonstrated great innovation in the face of climate change and sustainable challenges. Among their triumphs, the Opera House has achieved a 20% reduction in electricity and water usage since 2018 and maintained a carbon neutral status. Additionally, 90% of construction waste has been diverted away from landfill, alongside an increase in recycling from 55% to 90% – this deserves a round of applause! As such a prominent and acclaimed building in Sydney’s tourism, these sustainable triumphs are a great symbol of Sydney’s dedication to environmental action and green infrastructure.

Underwater Wonders

Below the sustainable achievements of the Opera House itself, artificial reefs have been installed along Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour. A project led by UTS Professor David Booth and funded by the NSW Government, the steel reefs are engulfed by seaweed and have subsequently provided a new home for fish and marine species. Most significantly, the creation of these artificial reefs has led to the return of the endangered White Seahorse. Following International Day for Biological Diversity in late May, this is exciting news which offers hope for future biodiversity.

We hope that future construction projects across NSW follow by the Opera House’s example, as sustainability becomes ever more essential to incorporate in both city projects, and our everyday lives. As the Sydney Opera House marks its 50th birthday this year, its 6-star Green Star rating calls for double the celebration! Check out the ‘Environmental Sustainability’ section of the Sydney Opera House website for more information on their sustainable endeavours.

(Image source: Sydney Opera House).