Powerhouse Climate Action Plan

Image of Sydney harbor from 20,000 feet high
Image: Sydney Harbour from 20000 feet, 1992. Credit: David Moore.

Taking an international leadership position on sustainability and positive climate action is central to the Powerhouse’s renewal and expansion.

By 2025 we will achieve net zero operations, establish the Powerhouse as an international leader in sustainable museum practices, creating a contemporary institution that is resilient, sustainable and a positive contributor to the world.

The Powerhouse is an institution that reflects the knowledge, understanding and ingenuity of First Nations peoples to care for Country in ways that are inherently sustainable. This Climate Action Plan – the museum’s first – embeds Caring for Country Principles developed by our First Nations communities as its foundation. As we expand, renew, and conserve our sites, we will acknowledge Country through these principles, architectural innovation, future technologies, consideration for material impacts and our future operations.

A special episode of 100 Climate Conversations was recorded to launch Powerhouse Climate Action Plan, click here for a transcript of the conversation.


Powerhouse Caring for Country Principles

In consultation with First Nations peoples of the Country on which the Powerhouse sites are situated, Caring for Country Principles form the foundation of this Climate Action Plan, they are our acknowledgement to Country in practice.

“In Indigenous culture, Country is vast, all-encompassing and limitless and transcends western notions of property and land ownership. Country is multifaceted and includes all tangible and intangible cultural heritage. It means the lands, waters, seas, and skies and everything on it, including people, plants, animals and landscapes.

Country also is the song lines, stories, language, cultural expressions and knowledge. It is all parts Australia, the deserts, rainforests, mountains and plains. Urban areas, the streets, parks, and the buildings are situated all on Country.

Country is wholistic and living.

Country is spiritual belonging.

Country shapes individual and communal identity and wellbeing. It is the ‘people, family, mob, who walk on Country.’ Country is kin. The relationship between people and Country must include reciprocity.”

– Powerhouse Taking Care of Country Principles, Terri Janke and Company, 2022.


Climate Action Plan 2022–2025

The Powerhouse Climate Action Plan focuses on three directions with deliverables against 12 objectives, outlining the important immediate actions that will embed sustainability across our organisation.



Powerhouse Infrastructure 

The Powerhouse renewal, which will expand, renew and conserve our infrastructure, is an opportunity to recognise the relationship between the built form and function, and embed our responsibility and responsiveness to climate, seasons and sustainability.

1. Practice responsible stewardship
2. Decarbonise Powerhouse precincts
3. Standardise zero waste approach to exhibition construction and museum operations
4. Integrate water harvesting and reuse in property operations

Powerhouse Programs

Powerhouse will demonstrate leadership as Australia’s pre-eminent museum for applied arts and sciences by integrating sustainability into museum programming and practice.

5. Embed sustainable practices in museum collection management
6. Prioritise collaboration and research with climate science thought leaders and industry
7. Reduce carbon emissions associated with exhibition design and program development
8. Collaborate with community to develop and support access to Powerhouse education programs and exhibitions

Powerhouse Operations

Powerhouse will prioritise sustainable outcomes in day-to-day operations through systemic reviews and incorporate sustainability into Powerhouse policies and procedures.

9. Integrate sustainability principles into ways of working
10. Build capacity and knowledge to support sustainable practices
11. Participate in industry leading collaborations and programs
12. Monitor and report on progress


Path to Net Zero

Net zero operations encompasses the scope of emissions from building operations, including scopes 1 and 2, and targeting improvements across water use and waste to landfill. Key reductions will be achieved by eliminating the use of fossil fuels, improving energy efficiency, generating renewable energy on site, and procuring 100% renewable energy for the remaining energy needs.

A combination of analysis, site energy audits and staff engagement were considered in the development of the net zero operations pathway.



Beyond 2025

By 2030 the Powerhouse renewal will be complete – our four sites operating as regenerative, climate positive precincts. The next eight years present an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate Powerhouse towards a zero carbon reality, with the most critical steps and decisions to be made in the immediate term. This plan has set out our intention and initial actions to transition Powerhouse to net zero operations. Beyond 2025 we will direct our attention to the continued improvement of the emissions along our value chain and be responsive to the science and innovation in climate science and sustainability.