Powerhouse takes international leadership position to achieve net zero by 2025

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Powerhouse takes international leadership position to achieve net zero by 2025
L-R. Carmel Reyes, Powerhouse Climate Action and Sustainability Manager, First Nations consultant Dr Terri Janke, Powerhouse Director, First Nations Emily McDaniel and Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah. Photograph by Zan Wimberley.

NEW SOUTH WALES.- Powerhouse today launched its inaugural Climate Action Plan 2022 – 2025, which sets out 12 key objectives encompassing infrastructure, programs and operations across the museum’s four sites, including the ambitious target of achieving net zero operational carbon emissions by 2025. These important commitments place the Powerhouse in a global leadership position.

Sustainability is integral to the Powerhouse renewal, which presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to embed low carbon solutions into Powerhouse’s infrastructure to reduce its operational environmental impact and improve its responsiveness to climate, season and sustainability. 

The pioneering action plan is guided by the museum’s Caring for Country Principles. Developed in consultation with First Nations peoples of the Country on which Powerhouse sites are located, these principles will support Powerhouse staff and collaborators to implement actions in the plan. 

The plan aligns with Australian and international best practice in addressing the global climate crisis. It includes a commitment to reduce total energy consumption by 20% from FY 2018/19 baseline, achieve 90% resource recovery from production and operational waste and achieve zero increase in potable water use from FY 2018/19 baseline by 2025.

Steps to achieve net zero operations include maximising onsite renewable energy opportunities, eliminating fossil fuel use, enhancing biodiversity values, integrating water harvesting and reuse in property operations at all sites and standardising a zero-waste approach to exhibition construction and operational waste management.

Powerhouse will also integrate climate action into programming and practice by embedding sustainability into collection management, prioritising collaboration and research with climate change thought leaders and industry to showcase innovation and ideas, and reducing carbon emission impacts associated with exhibition design and program development. A dedicated curatorial role will be created that focusses on climate change science and sustainability.

The future flagship museum Powerhouse Parramatta is being constructed to the highest 6 Star Green Star Standard under the Green Building Council Australia’s new Green Star Buildings rating tool. It will feature net zero operations from the day it opens in 2025. Net zero operations is embedded into the design principles for the Powerhouse Ultimo renewal. Powerhouse Castle Hill will reduce carbon emissions by maximising solar supply onsite and transitioning away from fossil fuel use by 2025. A Conservation Management Plan is being prepared for Sydney Observatory that includes a biodiversity assessment to enhance the biodiversity value of the site, prioritising Indigenous plants, diversity of species and sustainable landscaping practices.

‘As Australia’s leading museum of innovation in applied arts and sciences, Powerhouse is uniquely placed to raise awareness and showcase the role technology, engineering, science and design can play in addressing climate change and sustainability challenges,’ said Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin.

‘Taking an international leadership position on sustainability to address climate change is essential to the Powerhouse’s renewal. Sustainability is more than a requirement for Powerhouse, it is our story and responsibility,’ said Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah.

‘The Powerhouse is creating museums that reflect the knowledge, understanding and ingenuity of First Nations peoples to care for Country in ways that are inherently sustainable. This Climate Action Plan embeds Caring for Country Principles developed by our First Nations communities as its foundation,’ said Powerhouse Director First Nations, Emily McDaniel.

Powerhouse sits at the intersection of arts, design, science and technology and plays a critical role in engaging communities with contemporary ideas and issues. We are undertaking a landmark $1.4 billion infrastructure renewal program, spearheaded by the creation of the flagship museum, Powerhouse Parramatta; expanded research and public facilities at Powerhouse Castle Hill; the renewal of the iconic Powerhouse Ultimo; and the ongoing operation of Sydney Observatory. The museum is custodian to over half a million objects of national and international significance and is considered one of the finest and most diverse collections in Australia. We are also undertaking an expansive digitisation project that will provide new levels of access to Powerhouse collections.

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