Cate Blanchett, centre, with Andrew Upton. right

7 September 2011 – Cate Blanchett and husband Andrew Upton were the star attractions on Friday last week when arts groups resident at Sydney’s The Wharf launched a new rainwater harvesting and reticulation system that will provide 100 per cent of non-potable water to the precinct.

Ms Blanchett and Mr Upton, joint artistic directors of The Sydney Theatre Company said: The Wharf continues to develop as an example of how buildings, even heritage listed ones, can be made more sustainable.  We hope that the introduction of this innovative rainwater harvesting system will be a wonderful legacy for future users of the space, as well as another catalyst for the development of a unique green arts precinct.”

The new system is part of the Greening The Wharf project which has already seen installation of a bank of photo voltaic cells on the roof. See our article

The rainwater harvesting project was designed by  Sinclair Knight Merz.

Rain is captured from the roof area of The Wharf (equivalent to half the playing field of the Sydney Football Stadium in size) and stored in a large suspended pipe which runs 500 metres underneath the pier, with an even distribution of weight across the entire structure.

The rainwater system follows the 2010 installation of over 1900 solar panels on the roof of The Wharf building.

Other components of the program include behavioural efficiency programs, improved recycling and reduced waste and an extensive community engagement and education plan.

The STC, Sydney Dance Company and Bangarra Dance Theatre have replaced all inefficient toilets and urinals, reducing water consumption in the bathrooms by over 20 per cent.

Originally an ironbark timber pier constructed to load cargo on and off ships tied alongside it, The Wharf had long been derelict when it was handed over to STC in 1984.

The building is now acknowledged as an international benchmark for adaptiv re-use, skilfully blending sound urban design, conservation, cutting-edge technology and the freshest art, the organisers of the program said.

Greening the Wharf is funded by a private and public partnership involving philanthropy, corporate support and federal and state government funding including the NSW Government’s Public Facilities Program.

Other organisations resident at The Wharf benefitting from the system include, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Regional Arts NSW, Accessible Arts, The Song Company, Gondwana Choirs and Sydney Children’s Choir.