Delivering a healthy working Basin for Australia: Sydney, New South Wales

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Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2011

Program: Green Precincts Fund
Funding recipient: Sydney Theatre Company
Water for the Future funding: $1.2 million
Project commencement: July 2009
Project completion: December 2011

Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) Greening the Wharf project is testimony to the way buildings, even if heritage listed, can become more sustainable through energy efficiency and solar power.

The vision of artistic directors, Andrew Upton and Cate Blanchett, is that one of the many outcomes of the Greening the Wharf project will be the provision of 100 per cent of non-potable water on Pier 4/5 at Walsh Bay. An innovative rainwater harvesting system will store water in a pipe suspended beneath the pier and waste levels will be reduced through best practice waste handling and recycling.

(S.Murray Imagine It © 2010)

The heritage listed Pier 4/5, home to STC, will become Australia’s second largest capacity roof-top solar energy system, drawing the majority of its energy from renewable sources.

Other arts organisations on Pier 4/5 are also working to minimise energy and water use.

Greening the Wharf Sustainability Project Manager Paul O’Byrne said Walsh Bay would be recognised as a world leading, sustainable precinct.

“The project is about minimising energy and water use through new technologies and behavioural change,” he said.

“Initiated in 2008, after a fundraising period, the project began in 2009. The solar array was completed in 2010 and the rainwater harvesting handover is expected late July 2011. While the majority of work is nearing completion, the project will be ongoing as new technologies and greater efficiencies emerge.”

“The harvesting system captures 80 per cent of fallen rainwater on the roof, has a storage capacity of 100,000 litres and will pump and reticulate 100 per cent of the non-potable water demand for the Wharf.”

He said the system would save 3.7 million litres of water a year and upgraded bathrooms would reduce water consumption by around 40 per cent.

“No longer relying on town water for sanitary facilities, we’re saving a huge amount of water from going down the drain.”

Delivering direct environmental benefits, the project’s water and energy efficiency measures also include lighting and building management system upgrades to reduce STC's carbon emissions by 555 tonnes a year.

The Greening the Wharf project, which received $1.2 million in Australian Government funding through the Green Precincts Fund, is showcasing world leading solar cell technology in the heart of Sydney.

“The high profile and highly visible wharf provides inspiration and encouragement to the local community, government and corporations to follow STC’s lead by investing in water saving measures,” Paul said.

Education and community engagement to raise awareness about water and energy savings is a major project component. On 5 December 2010, the Company held ‘Open Day at the Wharf’ which attracted about 8,000 visitors who saw green technology in action. STC has more than 16,000 subscribers and communicates with up to 300,000 ticket buyers a year, creating opportunities to provide information to a large audience.

Schematic image depicting Wharf 45 rainwater harvesting system and photovoltaic array (SKM)

STC Pier 45, Walsh Bay, Sydney (T. Schramm)