The Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s most iconic tourist destinations.
Sitting on land traditionally known as Tubowgule, named by the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land, this world-class performing arts centre is instantly recognisable by people all over the globe and remains an important place for the community to come together to celebrate.
In 2022, the Sydney Opera House will be switching off on Saturday 26 March at 8:30pm for their 16th consecutive Earth Hour
. As an important local and international landmark, this symbolic move sends a powerful message that positive action to protect our planet is everyone’s responsibility.
We chatted to Emma Bombonato, Manager of Environmental Sustainability at the Sydney Opera House, to find out why it’s important for organisations to lead by example and demonstrate a greater commitment to sustainability by participating in Earth Hour.
The Sydney Opera House has been involved in Earth Hour for 16 years. What does it mean to continue to be involved in switching off?
Earth Hour is such an important moment for us to stop and reflect, and to really think about how we can all get involved in protecting our planet and our communities.
How is the Opera House getting involved?
We're currently implementing our fourth environmental action plan, which sets out clear objectives for sustainability, many of which we've achieved so far.
We have aligned our community plans (Environmental Action Plan, Reconciliation Action Plan and Accessibility Action Plan) with the United Nations Global Goals. The Global Goals provide a to-do list for the world and help us to address some of the most pressing issues of our time - to shape a more sustainable future.
This includes achieving a 5-star Green Star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia, which is equivalent to Australian excellence in sustainability.
We've been certified carbon neutral since 2018. We've reduced our water consumption by around 30%, energy consumption by around 20% and we have increased our recycling rate from 50% to 85%. It is important that we continue to look for ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
Our artificial reef, which was installed in partnership with University of Technology Sydney along the eastern sea wall, has seen eight more species surveyed on the site, which is a fantastic outcome.
What’s next for the Opera House in terms of sustainability?
The Opera House’s fourth Environmental Action Plan for 2020-22 includes a number of ambitious targets ahead of our 50th anniversary in 2023, such as:
• Achieving a 6 Star Green Star Performance Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia;
• Taking steps to become climate positive;
• Eliminating single-use plastic packaging for all venues and restaurants; and
• Achieving international certification for sustainable events for our festivals and performances.
What role do businesses play in protecting our planet and shaping our future?
All businesses, big and small, have a really important responsibility to understand their impact and get involved in protecting the environment and the community.
The Sydney Opera House strives to inspire positive change by leading by example in sustainability. We aim to implement initiatives that we know can be achieved in other businesses.
It’s also incumbent on us all as individuals to understand how our choices impact the environment on a daily basis. In this critical decade we need everybody involved to take action to help shape our future.
What tips do you have for other businesses trying to reduce their environmental footprint?
It’s really important for businesses to firstly understand what their footprint is so they can see where the opportunities are for improvement.
We know it’s been a really challenging couple of years for everybody, and we’ve really had to make some adjustments. But it’s important to remember that our collective efforts are powerful and there are many positive actions that we can take to reduce our footprint.
So that could mean:
• Wearing a reusable face mask, or remembering to cut the straps of a single use mask if you need to wear one before disposing of it to protect wildlife.
• Remembering that you can now use reusable cups in most cafes and also have your water bottles handy, as an alternative to single-use alternatives
• Shutting down your computer at the end of the day, rather than logging off. This applies whether you’re working from home or back in the office.
• Learning more about your superannuation and where it’s invested to ensure your super is being invested ethically.
Why is the Sydney Opera House switching off again this year?
Switching off sends an important reminder to the community that it is important to get involved in caring for our planet and the community. When we care about our planet we care about each other.
We hope that by switching off, we inspire others to get involved.
Have you signed up for Earth Hour? Sign up as an individual or business
and help us Shape Our Future!
You have the power to Shape Our Future.
Sign up to switch off this Earth Hour at 8.30pm local time, March 26.