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Alice Henly’s Blog

Australian Open Greening Wins

Alice Henly

Posted January 25, 2014

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tennisAt last, it’s finals weekend of the Australian Open tennis championships, held at Melbourne Park since 1988, just ten minutes walk from the heart of Melbourne. As two weeks of dramatic upsets of top-seeded players, record-breaking heat, and unforgettable tennis wind to a close, much of Melbourne Park will revert back to a construction site.

In fact, unbeknownst to most of the hundreds of millions of viewers around the world tuning in to the 2014 Australian Open action on TV or online, Melbourne Park is in the middle of a major 15-year redevelopment project. The State of Victoria, the venue owner and operator, is spending over $700 million with the goal of establishing Melbourne Park “as one of the most sustainable sports and entertainment venues in the world.”

With these objectives in mind, the state is setting the impressive objective of achieving the USGBC’s LEED Gold certification for each of the buildings and arenas in the Melbourne Park sports complex. This includes reaching LEED Gold green building standards for Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena as part of the redevelopment. 

In July 2013, the Eastern Plaza project, which includes a new National Tennis Centre and provides more indoor training courts for future Australian Opens, was the first building in the complex to be awarded LEED Gold Certification for New Construction. The new Margaret Court Arena is also currently on track to receive LEED Gold certification in 2015.

These green building goals require the entire Melbourne Park complex to conserve energy and water, meet green construction and material procurement standards, provide healthier interior environments, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help reduce operating costs.

Some of the green accomplishments of the Melbourne Park redevelopment to date include:

  • Using reflective roof coatings that reflect over 70% of the sun’s heat, keeping buildings cooler during hot days.
  • Implementing a specialized court lighting system that provides high quality light while using less energy.
  • Using high-efficiency LED bulbs for all external lighting, as well as programmable lighting controls.
  • Installing onsite solar arrays, including a 42MWh/year system of 120 photovoltaic panels atop the National Tennis Center within the Eastern Plaza. 
  • Recycling or reusing more than 80% of construction waste from the construction of both the National Tennis Center and Margaret Court Arena.
  • Sourcing timber from sustainably managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Using high-efficiency HVAC systems and comprehensive commissioning of building systems to save energy, lower operating costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A few examples of other ongoing green initiatives at the Australian Open include:

  • Reducing water use by 25% over the past 5 years.
    • All of Melbourne Park is irrigated with recycled water thanks to underground large water tanks installed onsite.
    • Switched irrigation systems from overhead spray to drip and sub surface irrigation.
    • Installing low-flow faucets, showerheads, urinals and toilets in all buildings (including player change rooms).
    • Installing above ground water tanks with 550,000-liter capacity to use rain water for washing courts, stadiums and irrigation.
  • Converting 100% of take-away packaging to recyclable materials.
  • food stand ausAutomatically providing free access to public transit throughout Melbourne for anyone with an Australian Open ticket (for same-day travel).
  • A fresh food stand next to Rod Laver Arena with fruit, whole coconuts, and even wheatgrass shots. 
  • Partnering with concessionaire Delaware North to serve sustainable and fair trade certified foods during the Australian Open. For example:
  • Recycling all used match balls at local tennis centers or places of need.
  • Providing extensive water fountains and bottle refilling stations for fans throughout the complex. 
  • Encouraging greener actions by all Tennis Australia and Australian Open staff. For example:
    • Issuing reusable drink bottles and water refilling services to discourage single-use plastic bottles.
    • Reducing paper use in offices by using central printing stations and encouraging electronic over printed materials.
    • Promoting paper recycling at all offices.
  • aus food standDiverting 81% of waste collected on site from landfill by collecting recyclables and organics waste during the 2013 Australian Open.
    • 50 permanent commingled recycling bins are stationed around Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena (the two largest venues).
    • Recycled materials include PET and HDPE plastics, paper, steel, cardboard, polystyrene, glass and aluminum.



These environmental accomplishments and goals are especially relevant given that extreme heat once again disrupted play during the 2014 Australian Open, endangering players and fans. Melbourne Park is emerging as a prominent leader on the importance of greener operations as a means of addressing climate disruption. This is especially appropriate given the direct threat climate change poses to the future of the Australian Open, and many other sports. 

Learn more about the NRDC Sports Greening Project at and @NRDCGreenSports. Download NRDC’s Game Changer report for more information on NRDC’s work with professional sports and the burgeoning U.S. sports greening movement. Read about NRDC’s partnership with the USTA and our work greening the US Open.


Additional Info on the Melbourne Park Redevelopment:

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Lew BlausteinJan 26 2014 10:31 PM

Alice: Terrific post! I hope the other Grand Slam events match the great work being done by Tennis Australia. I will link to your post on GreenSportsBlog Monday AM EST.

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