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Sydney Opera House ushers in new green era

The Sydney Opera House has been awarded a 4-Star Green Star Performance rating by Green Building Council of Australia. The iconic venue was awash with green inside and out for the announcement made on Tuesday 25 August 2015.

Jørn Utzon's world-leading sea water cooling system is still used by the Opera House today.

Jørn Utzon’s world-leading sea water cooling system is still used by the Opera House today.

Image: Filippo Dallosso

The 42-year-old building has its architect Jørn Utzon to thank for this new recognition, and it now joins a handful of green-certified World Heritage listed buildings around the world. Utzon’s world-leading sea water cooling system, still used in the Opera House’s heating and air-conditioning today, laid the foundations for the Opera House’s sustainability strategy.

The Opera House custodians also maintain the building using eco-friendly methods including using bicarbonate soda to clean the concrete and olive oil to clean the bronze. In the past five years, the Opera House has reduced its energy usage by more than 10 percent by retrofitting the building with energy efficient lighting.

Other measures that contributed to the rating include waste management, recycling and encouraging public transport use.

Social sustainability has also been a key target for the Opera House which has engaged in Australia’s first Reconciliation Action Plan for a performing arts venue.

“The Sydney Opera House has laid down the gauntlet for the property industry with a pragmatic, practical approach which shows even the most iconic, historic and challenging buildings can be high-performing, energy efficient and sustainable,” said Romilly Madew, CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia.

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