Opera houses lead by example in sustainability movement

Houses of art and culture are essential to forming our identities and showcasing our cultural values as human beings. So, it’s not surprising that over the course of these past few years and especially during the pandemic, art is intertwining itself with political and environmental justice.

The Optimist Daily has discussed the important role art and performance play in society in the past, whether it be providing a creative outlet for marginalized voices or uplifting us during lonely and uncertain times. Many of these cultural hubs have also started taking part in environmental movements.

The renowned opera house Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy is striving to lead by example by reducing its carbon emissions by over 630 tons since 2010, and by shifting to LED bulbs and smart lighting, a change made during the shutdowns of this past year. Further plans include installing solar panels and digitizing operations which will save 10 tons of paper per year.

The Italian opera house also ensures that they partner with vendors that prioritize recycling and that costume designers also work with recyclable fabrics. La Scala joins the Sydney Opera House in Australia, which has been green-certified for a number of years now. Its Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP), launched in 2010, has resulted in many climate and environmental wins, some of which include saving one million dollars in electricity through increased energy efficiency, ensuring large festivals are certified carbon-neutral, and increasing waste recycling and food recycling.

The Sydney Opera House became carbon-neutral three years ago, but they continue to expand their sustainability goals. In the future, they want to recycle more construction materials, become more energy-efficient, and increase their green star rating.

According to the former CEO of Green Building Council Australia, Romilly Madew, “The Sydney Opera House has shown the world that even the most challenging, iconic, and historic buildings can be sustainable… if the Opera House can go green, anything can go green.”

For another piece on how opera houses are advocating for a more sustainable future, click here.

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