April 6, 2017

The Sydney Opera House and its energy supplier EnergyAustralia today announced a major partnership to help the country’s pre-eminent performing arts centre and number one tourist destination deliver its Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP).

Announced by the Opera House in August last year, the ESP outlines a series of long-term sustainability goals including carbon neutrality, a 5-Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia and 14 per cent energy savings.

Under the two-year partnership agreement, the Opera House and EnergyAustralia will collaborate with national science agency CSIRO on a new industry think tank. Developed by EnergyAustralia, the think tank will focus on:

  • Delivering a strategy to enable the Opera House to achieve Net Zero (carbon neutral) certification by 2023 – a key objective of the Opera House’s ESP.
  • Identifying and implementing sustainable energy solutions to be trialled by the Opera House as part of its long-term carbon-reduction strategy.

Through the partnership, it is hoped the national icon will become a test case for emerging technologies that could be adopted by households and organisations across Australia that want to operate in a more energy-efficient and sustainable way.

NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities & Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said: “As the symbol of modern Australia, the Opera House has the power to inspire and shape change. Through its partnership with EnergyAustralia and collaboration with CSIRO, the Opera House will set a new standard in sustainable heritage buildings while encouraging the adoption of cleaner energy solutions more widely. This kind of collaboration is key to securing a more sustainable future for Australia and I would like to congratulate all those involved in this fantastic partnership.” 

The first think tank, which took place last month, focused on key opportunities to help the Opera House meet its Net Zero and Green Star targets including sustainable and cost-effective ways to manage the Opera House’s peak energy use and optimise performance. A number of potential projects were identified that will be scoped and explored in coming months, including:

  • On-site storage energy systems: Installing battery or fuel cell technology to provide on-site generation and energy storage to manage fluctuating energy consumption.
  • Big data: Investigating CSIRO fault-detection technology to monitor and moderate temperature throughout the Opera House by drawing on multiple data sources. This project would reduce the Opera House’s energy consumption and cost.
  • Peer-to-peer renewable energy sharing: An opportunity for EnergyAustralia’s residential customers to ‘donate’ some of the benefits of the renewable (solar) energy generated on their roofs to the Opera House, thereby reducing the building’s net carbon footprint and electricity costs.  

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said: “We are very committed to the path set out in our ESP, building on the Opera House’s environmental successes to date, including our 4-Star Green Star rating awarded in 2015. Achieving those goals will require a hugely collaborative effort and it is wonderful that our energy supplier EnergyAustralia and CSIRO are joining forces with us to help make that happen.”

EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna said: “Our partnership will do more than change the way energy is used in Australia’s biggest house. It will help address one of the most important challenges we face: delivering reliable, affordable and cleaner energy for all Australians, no matter where they live or how much they earn. We will apply what we learn and the technology developed through the partnership to helping homes across Australia to use energy in ways that are smarter, more efficient and more sustainable.”

The Opera House is also working with EnergyAustralia and CSIRO to establish a decision-making framework to determine which initiatives will have the optimal environmental impact. The Opera House aims to finalise its Net Zero strategy and associated projects later this year.