Environmentally Sustainable Design

The protection of our environment is an important global and local responsibility.

Yarra Council wants to help lead the transformation in how we live and use our resources in the future.

Today, buildings emit 20% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The construction of buildings, including demolition waste, makes up 40% of landfill. And in operation, buildings use large amounts of potable water for non–drinking purposes.

For environmental, economical and social reasons, Yarra Council supports you in creating more sustainable lifestyles.

Latest news  

ESD Policy

The City of Yarra is proud to announce the Ministerial approval and formal gazettal of Amendment C133, which introduces Clause 22.17 Environmentally Sustainable Development to the Yarra Planning Scheme.

The overarching objective is that development should achieve best practice in environmentally sustainable development from the design stage through to construction and operation. Clause 22.17 details the policy objectives, policy triggers, application requirements, decision guidelines as well as reference documents and other information to assist applicants. For a link directly to the policy click .

We are one of 6 leading councils in metropolitan Melbourne who developed the Planning Scheme amendment via a cross council collaboration with the cities of Banyule, Moreland, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Whitehorse. The ESD Local Policy is the first of its kind in Victoria and its approval is a major achievement for our Council and community. We would like to acknowledge the hard work of all involved in this landmark project across Melbourne including industry and community, and Council staff past and present.

Full details of the amendment process including public consultation and the panel hearing are available here.  

BESS is now live 

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) is a new online sustainability assessment tool purpose-built for the Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) framework.

Access BESS at www.bess.net.au


  • Is free for planning permit applicants to use
  • Can assist applicants meeting the requirements of ESD Local Policy 22.17
  • Assesses any size and type of building, including mixed use developments
  • Is easy to use
  • Can be used to benchmark against other developments
  • Streamlines the planning permit process
  • Reduces running costs of new buildings
  • Provides liveability and useability benefits for building owners and users

The information required to complete a BESS assessment is simple for small developments and increases in complexity for larger developments.

Should I use BESS or STEPS / SDS? 

BESS has now replaced the STEPS and SDS tools.

BESS should be used for new applications. STEPS is now locked to new applications, but older STEPS files will remain online for a period of two years so that existing projects can be accessed. The SDS has been removed from the STEPS website and will no longer be accepted for new applications


Make your apartment building a smart block

Apartment owners and building managers can find out more about energy efficiency opportunities in their buildings with Smart Blocks.

Smart Blocks is a national program helping apartment owners and their managers save money by improving energy efficiency in apartment buildings.

What happened at the workshop?

• Learnt about the benefits of energy efficiency and heard about case studies of what others have done. 
• Discovered how the online interactive toolkit can help fine tune the energy usage of common property in your building. 
• Connected with people from other apartment buildings and share experiences. 

Did you know?

On average, residents of high-rise buildings use 25 per cent more energy per person than those living in detached dwellings. Up to half of this energy use comes from common property (e.g. pools, car parks, hallway lights).The Smart Blocks workshop will help you save money by showing you how to improve the energy efficiency of your apartment building.

For more information, visit www.smartblocks.com.au  

Launch of Sustainable Design in the Planning Process (SDAPP) fact sheets

In collaboration with the Cities of Port Phillip, Stonnington and Melbourne, Yarra Council has developed and launched fact sheets outlining the 10 Key Sustainable Building Categories to support Council's SDAPP program. The fact sheets provide detailed advice on sustainable building design at the planning permit application stage, which should come in handy whether you are working on a small renovation or a large development. Each fact sheet provides useful links and references and defines Council's Best Practice Standard.

The fact sheets are all available in this  Sustainable Design in the Planning Process fact sheets overview (1.98 MB). [C1] Individual fact sheets are available on The 10 Key Sustainable Building Categories webpage. Hard copies of the fact sheets are also available at the Richmond Town Hall (333 Bridge Road).  

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Sustainable Heritage Buildings

Heritage Victoria’s website has a section dedicated to sustainability, which includes practical information as well as a case study on the adaption of an existing heritage house to improve its environmental sustainability. 

Click here to link to downloadable guidelines for energy efficiency regulations and sustainability guidelines for heritage buildings.   

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 The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne project

The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne project investigates the potential to transform Melbourne’s roofs, walls and facades into vegetated, leafy habitats. The Guide was the successful winner of the 2015 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

A guide was developed for the design, construction and maintenance of green roofs, walls and facades in Melbourne and Victoria. 
The project also explored policy options to support green roof, wall and façade development across Victoria, and identified possible demonstration sites for future development of green roofs, walls and facades in inner Melbourne.

Further details are available on the Growing Green Guide website.

It is a joint project of the Inner Melbourne Action Plan (IMAP) with the cities of Yarra, Melbourne, Stonnington, Port Phillip and the University of Melbourne.

The project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Sustainability Fund under the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord.

For more information please contact the project officer, Julie Francis, at greenroofs@melbourne.vic.gov.au or Kevin Ayrey at Yarra City Council on 9205 5770, kevin.ayrey@yarracity.vic.gov.au 

Further information is also available on the IMAP website

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Further Information
Euan Williamson & Johanna Trickett
Environmentally Sustainable Development Advisors
9205 5366




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