The iconic Sydney Opera House has taken a number of fantastic sustainability and environment initiatives forward for its Vivid Live festival. Among those is that it will be carbon neutral through efficiencies, Green Power and carbon offsets. I am thrilled to be Sydney Opera House’s account manager at Climate Friendly, and claim a *tiny* piece of responsibility for making it happen. Full credit goes to Naomi and the event producers Ben and Alister.

Photo from Vivid Sydney 2015 (original photo)
Photo from Vivid Sydney 2015 (original photo)

I will let the media release from Thursday 21 May, tell the story.

The Sydney Opera House announced today that it will be carbon neutral for the 10 nights of Vivid LIVE, as part of Vivid Sydney, the largest festival of its kind in the world – an achievement made possible through a number of green initiatives that will reduce the environmental impact of the annual contemporary music takeover.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said: “As the centrepiece of Vivid Sydney festival, Vivid LIVE is demonstrating that we can enliven our city and create great social places while addressing our collective environmental impact. Today’s announcement is testament to the environmental awareness and action of everyone involved in creating this incredible event at the Opera House.”

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said: “Our mission is to inspire people through everything we do. Vivid LIVE, presented in partnership with Destination NSW, is all about showcasing the most ambitious and innovative artists in contemporary music, but it goes far beyond that. We’ve taken a similarly ambitious approach with our sustainability initiatives and I am thrilled that this year Vivid LIVE will also be carbon neutral.”

The Opera House is taking a number of steps to reduce the carbon footprint of Vivid LIVE:

  • All electricity used for Vivid LIVE 2015 events – including the iconic Lighting of the Sails – will be powered by 100% Green Power from accredited renewable sources
  • Fuel-efficient transport will be used for artist transfers as available (approximately 35 transfers)
  • Surplus food from events and artist catering will be donated to the food-rescue charity OzHarvest
  • 200 artists and crew will receive reusable water bottles rather than bottled water – saving an estimated 6,000 plastic water bottles across the event
  • Switching to electronic marketing where possible to reduce printed materials.

Alongside these initiatives, the Opera House has also committed to tracking and offsetting all remaining carbon emissions, including flights for performers as well as all other artist transport, catering, hotel accommodation, waste and paper. A total of 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide are expected to be offset during the event – equivalent to the average annual emissions of 92 Australian households. This will be achieved by investing in accredited projects and through transparent reporting. All carbon calculations and offsetting will be externally verified and reported via the Vivid LIVE website in line with National Carbon Offset Standard requirements.

Sydney Opera House Manager, Environmental Sustainability, Naomi Martin said: “Whether you’re coming down to enjoy the incredible Lighting the Sails projections or taking a front row seat at a show, it’s great that patrons and festival goers will know that Vivid LIVE is being powered entirely by renewable energy. This is our greenest year yet and the first time our team has successfully made Vivid LIVE fully carbon neutral – but it’s just the beginning. This is a commitment we will build on as we continue to set a new standard in sustainability.”

Today’s Vivid LIVE announcement is part of an ongoing program to reduce the Opera House’s environmental footprint. This includes a recent major upgrade to the Concert Hall lighting system which has reduced its energy use by 75 per cent. The Opera House also has introduced wireless microphones for performers powered by rechargeable rather than disposable batteries. The new design saves about 10,000 AA batteries per year – equating to around 250 kilograms of batteries that would otherwise be disposed.


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