Sustainability at The House

Tuesday, 29 October, 2019

Sustainability at The House

The Sydney Opera House has announced its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The announcement puts the world-famous performing arts centre and tourist destination among a growing collective of global and Australian companies, governments and community organisations that have made sustainability pledges. The Opera House’s commitment is reflected in the launch of its latest Accessibility, Environmental and Reconciliation Action Plans.

“The Opera House is committed to the ideals and values encapsulated in the Global Goals, which can only be achieved through global action,” Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said.

“The ambitious community plans released today outline how we will continue to support inclusion, diversity and equality, and help safeguard our natural environment.”

The Opera House commitment will be celebrated by lighting the eastern Bennelong sail — the canvas for the nightly First Nations artwork Badu Gili — to show support for the global goals and help raise awareness of this important social and environmental call to action.

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said, “As the symbol of modern Australia, the Opera House has an important role to play in inspiring the community. It is wonderful that our most famous landmark is putting its support behind this global initiative to help achieve a more sustainable and fulfilling future for all.”

Environmental Action Plan

The Opera House’s latest Environmental Action Plan (EAP) builds on recent achievements, including a five-star Green Star Performance rating from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), carbon neutral certification and a renewable power purchase agreement to source more than 85% of its power from NSW wind and solar. The fourth EAP (2020–23) sets out a number of ambitious targets:

  • Achieve a six-star Green Star Performance Rating from the GBCA.
  • Eliminate single-use plastic packaging from all venues and restaurants.
  • Take steps to become climate positive.
  • Achieve Sustainable Event Management Certification, in line with International Standard (ISO 20121).

Reconciliation Action Plan

Since announcing its first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in 2011, Opera House First Nations initiatives have included: the nightly sails lighting of Badu Gili, featuring a selection of inspiring artist works; the national dance competition Dance Rites; and career programs for hundreds of students. The fifth RAP (2020–22) seeks to:

  • Celebrate First Nations cultures by presenting works and stories that foster appreciation and embed respectful race relations.
  • Build equality and equity through employment and retention programs, encouraging cultural competence in all staff and creating an inclusive environment for First Nations people.
  • Champion reconciliation to local and international communities by embedding First Nations culture onsite and online.

Accessibility Action Plan

Recent accessibility achievements at the Opera House have included major accessibility upgrades to the Joan Sutherland Theatre; a diverse program of more than 150 accessible performances and staff training in introductory Auslan; and accessible customer service. The fifth Accessibility Action Plan (2020–23) sets out to:

  • Significantly enhance building accessibility across the Opera House’s venues and the wider precinct.
  • Develop new community engagement opportunities, including programs for seniors, people with dementia and newly arrived migrant and refugee communities.
  • Enhance access and inclusion provisions in recruitment processes by offering new workplace support for employees with disability and creating opportunities for future employees with disability.

Find out more about the Opera House’s commitment at

Image caption: The Opera House’s eastern Bennelong sail lit in the 17 colours of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Image credit © Cassandra Hannagan.

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