Environmentally Sustainable Development in the Planning Scheme

1. What is sustainable design?

Sustainable design is a key priority in the development of today’s-built environment. Sustainable design protects our environment, secures today’s living standards and future–proofs our community against rising energy, water, and waste disposal costs.

Several Victorian Councils have developed a consistent and transparent sustainable design assessment process. This process offers a high level of planning certainty relevant to sustainable design and ensures that it has been considered during the early project phase – when it achieves the greatest benefits at the lowest cost.

2. Sustainable design in your planning application

Incorporating Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) into the design of new development is a requirement under the Local Planning Policy Framework Clause 22.03 - Environmentally Sustainable Development of the Yarra Ranges Council planning scheme.

The chart below will help you determine if your planning application falls into the ‘Small’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Large’ category and whether sustainable design–related information needs to be submitted with your application.

For comprehensive information on what key sustainable development categories should be addressed as part of your planning application, refer to the SDAPP Explained Fact Sheet.(PDF, 583KB)

Size of development


Prepared by


Residential and mixed use with a residential component

Development of 10 or more dwellings or other accommodation


  1. Commercial developments with a gross floor area of more than 1000m2
  2. Alterations and additions greater than 1000m2.

Submit a Sustainability Management Plan

It may be necessary to engage a sustainability professional to prepare a Sustainability Management Plan.


Residential and mixed use with a residential component

Development of 3-9 dwellings


  1. Development of commercial building with a gross floor area between 500m2 and 1000m2
  2. Alterations and additions between 500m2 and 1000m2.

Submit a Sustainable Design Assessment which can be done using our template.

Can be prepared by the applicant.


All planning applications other than described in the categories medium and large.

Learn how you can incorporate Environmentally Sustainable Design in your home to minimise your impact on the environment and help reduce everyday living costs.


3. Environmentally Sustainable Design Tools

Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) tools are an effective way of measuring a proposed building design or actual performance. The ESD tools include:


BESS is a free, online sustainability assessment tool purpose-built for the planning application stage. It can assess single dwellings, multi-dwellings, non-residential and mixed-use developments of any size.

Visit BESS


STORM is a free, online calculator for testing whether a site achieves best practice water quality objectives. STORM is managed by Melbourne Water.



MUSIC is a detailed stormwater modelling software that is available for purchase from eWater and is often used for large complex developments.


Green Star

Green Star is a green building certification system administered by the Green Building Council of Australia. The Green Star Design and As Built rating tool is suitable for use by large developments.

Visit Green Star


NatHERS provides a framework that allows various computer software tools to rate the potential energy efficiency of Australian homes.


NABERS rates a building on the basis of its measured operational impacts on the environment according to various categories.


Download the Environmentally Sustainable Design Tools Fact Sheet(PDF, 591KB) to find out more about each tool.

4. Sustainable Design Assessment

A Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) is a document which outlines the sustainable design features of a proposed development and is required for medium-sized developments. The assessment will support your planning application by showing how you intend to address the 10 Key Sustainable Building Categories

By using free web–based tools, such as BESS , combined with a brief description of how the project responds to the above categories, you can easily demonstrate that your project meets Council’s best practice standards for sustainable design.

Download the Sustainable Design Assessment Template(DOCX, 78KB)

5. Sustainability Management Plan 

A Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) is required for developments that fall under the large category and comprises of a detailed assessment of a proposed design at the planning stage. It identifies beneficial, easy to implement and best practice sustainability initiatives. An SMP addresses the 10 Key Sustainable Building Categories and demonstrates that a holistic sustainable design review has been undertaken. 

6. Key Sustainable Design Fact Sheets

To help you meet the requirements of Clause 22.03, Council has adopted a series of fact sheets.

The Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) fact sheets, provide background information, design guidance and best practice standards across 10 key sustainable development categories relevant to your development.