New environmentally sustainable assessment requirements

Yarra City Council in inner Melbourne is part of a growing group of Victorian councils known as the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) to introduce Environmentally Sustainable Design requirements for planning permit applications.

The program known as Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Processes (SDAPP) was developed by CASBE councils.

In October 2010, the guide was awarded the Planning Institute of Australia (VIC) Environmental Planning award. This year it won the Planning Institute of Australia's National Award for Planning Excellence in Environmental Planning and Conservation.

Yarra Mayor Alison Clarke said the aim of Council's new Environmentally Sustainable Design requirements is to ensure ESD is considered during the planning phase of a building
project - when it achieves the greatest benefits at the lowest cost.

"A number of Melbourne councils were requesting ESD information from developers before the SDAPP program came into being," Councillor Clarke said. "The guide makes it easier for councils to ensure key environmental performance matters, such as building orientation and shading, are considered when deciding on permit applications."

The sustainable design consultancy Sustainable Built Environments (SBE) and the Hansen Partnership wrote the guide for the Municipal Association Victoria (MAV). The purpose of the guide is to explain to Local Government, the why and how of introducing practices to improve the sustainability of buildings constructed within their municipalities. The project was funded by the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord.

SBE Senior Associate Sean McArdle said the Planning Institute of Australia recognised the development of a toolkit that embraces planning systems and principles to foster high quality, sustainable buildings in an easy and flexible way.

"The guide built on comprehensive research through which we identified ways that the current planning framework can be better used and how existing policies can be enhanced through clear ESD planning policies."

The toolkit was the result of a series of workshops and ongoing consultation with CASBE and other interested councils. It indicates a different approach be taken depending on the scale of a development, and is applicable to single houses as well as to all medium and large planning permit applications.It provides building designers and planning permit applicants with a greater understanding of what considerations regarding sustainable building design will be taken into account at the planning permit application stage, and how councils will consider this information when an application is lodged.

Applicants will be requested to provide information in 10 Key Sustainable Design Categories, addressing issues such as energy, water, waste and indoor environment quality.

The guide has been positively received by councils and industry.

For further information contact Sean McArdle on (03) 9923 2345 SBE.