The bid for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and a commitment to a ‘green Games’ and sustainable Olympic village catalysed Australia’s green building movement. More than 20 years later, the Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA), part of the NSW Government, is building on that legacy to deliver greater sustainability and reduced carbon emissions.
Master Plan 2030 (2018 Review) is a comprehensive plan guiding the long-term development of Sydney Olympic Park, including a vibrant town centre, educational facilities, a shopping precinct, new homes, more jobs and increased open space and community facilities.
The projected development for new homes and jobs within the precinct is significant. It is anticipated that over the next decade, there will be more than six times the number of homes when compared with 2017, and more than double the jobs. Based on the 2017 emissions profile for the precinct, this development would increase emissions by up to 80%, so taking decisive and effective action to reduce GHG emissions is critical if the net zero emissions goal is to be realised.
In 2019, SOPA achieved a 6 Star Green Star - Communities rating for the precinct, which set a goal to achieve net zero emissions for SOPA by 2030 and the precinct as a whole by 2050, through the development of a comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Strategy.
The Greenhouse Gas Strategy sets out the following actions:
- Green Star, NABERS and BASIX requirements are mandated for all new buildings within the precinct. Allowing only certified high-performance, energy efficient buildings is projected to deliver a 23% reduction in GHG emissions.
- Installing on-site solar PV on SOPA assets (from 7.425 MW to a potential 32 MW). The building and carpark footprint of SOPA assets is almost 60% of the total building footprint in Sydney Olympic Park.
- Installing on-site solar PV on non-SOPA assets (potentially up to 23 MW). On-site solar (on both SOPA and non-SOPA assets) is projected to deliver a 16% reduction in emissions as well as other benefits such as operational savings for precinct occupants.
- Off-site renewable energy purchasing of a minimum of 140GWh of clean electricity equivalent to a 133 MW solar array. This is expected to deliver up to a 38% reduction in emissions.
A greener grid is expected to deliver the remaining 23% emissions reduction to achieve net zero emissions across Sydney Olympic Park by 2030. Given this is beyond SOPA’s control, it is also investigating other opportunities such as battery storage, micro-grid arrangements and if necessary, offsets.
High performance buildings
As the planning authority for Sydney Olympic Park, SOPA requires all new buildings to meet minimum Green Star targets. This means that any building, including office buildings, retail buildings, public buildings, education and healthcare facilities, mixed used developments, hotels and residential buildings must achieve a minimum 4 Star Green Star certification (5 Star for commercial office buildings). For buildings which warrant a design competition a part of the development process, a 6 Star Green Star certification is required. Most building types also have additional minimum targets for NABERS or BASIX where applicable.
Several on-site solar arrays are installed on buildings across Sydney Olympic Park. A 123kW solar photovoltaic system able to generate around 170,000 kWh per year was installed on the roof of P3 Car Park in 2020. This system is connected to SOPA’s head office and is expected to reduce electricity costs by 50% and save 14 tonnes of CO2 per month. A further 1.6MW was installed in 2021, with 1.4MW installed on the Aquatic Centre, 99kW on the Athletic Centre and 81kW on the recycled water treatment plant saving a further 1,700 tonnes of CO2 annually.
More on-site solar systems are planned, with carparks well-placed as installation sites. Battery storage and Power Purchase Agreements are also being investigated to cover the huge energy spikes during events.
High performance lifestyles
SOPA is committed to making Sydney Olympic Park one of the most liveable suburbs in NSW. This goes beyond the commitment to net zero emissions and aims to make Sydney Olympic Park a great place to live, work and play while delivering best practice sustainability across the precinct. To support this goal, SOPA committed to achieving a Green Star Communities certification for the precinct. In 2019, Sydney Olympic Park achieved a 6 Star Green Star Communities certification, signifying world leadership, with a score of 97 points from a possible 110.
Features within the community include excellent links to public transport, extensive pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, a number of initiatives to protect and improve biodiversity in the area and Australia’s first large-scale urban water treatment scheme, known as WRAMS, which recycles water from sewage and stormwater to supply irrigation, fountains and toilet flushing applications across Sydney Olympic Park and the adjacent suburb of Newington.
SOPA is now embarking on a new Place Vision and Strategy, and Master Plan 2050, in which it envisages a deeper commitment to sustainability, regeneration and carbon positive. The Place Vision and Strategy will be released for public consultation in mid-2022.
SOPA is committed to achieving our goal of net zero emissions by 2030 for our own operations and Sydney Olympic Park as a whole, and we will continue to work towards better outcomes for the community across all aspects of sustainability.
Sally Hamilton, Director, Environment and Planning, Sydney Olympic Park Authority