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  

 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
  • 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 replaces the STEPS and SDS tools.

BESS should be used for new applications, but during a transition period planning permit applicants have the option of using either BESS or STEPS / SDS. Once BESS is established, STEPS and SDS will be phased out.

After this time, STEPS will be locked to new applications, but remain online for a period of two years so that existing projects can be accessed. The SDS will be removed from the STEPS website and will no longer be accepted for new applications.

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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.

We held a free workshop at Richmond Town Hall, in October last year. 

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 pdf format Sustainable Design in the Planning Process fact sheets overview (1.98 MB). 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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 Redevelopment of sustainable design tools

Funding has been secured through the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord to upgrade the Sustainable Tools for Environmental Performance Strategy (STEPS) and Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS) tools during 2013. This will include introducing an online interface for the SDS tool and developing an improved STEPS tool which will include added features that will cater for the assessment of large scale multi-residential developments.

 As we need your valuable feedback throughout this project, we encourage you to register your name and email address on the STEPS website hosted by Moreland Council. Once you have registered, we will keep you up to date with the project’s progress and invite you to share your experience using the tools. The project team thanks you in advance for your involvement.

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New online sustainable building design tool


Sustainability Victoria has released a new interactive education tool that explains the many benefits of sustainable building design.  

‘Design Build Live’ on the Sustainability Victoria website not only highlights the key areas to consider when designing a new home, but also provides detailed information about the many aspects of sustainable design. It explains what to consider when:

  • Choosing your location
  • Designing your home
  • Choosing Materials
  • Designing fit outs
  • Landscaping
  • Living in your home.

We encourage you to have a look at this great tool and to include as many of its recommendations as possible in your own housing project.

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Web portal


This Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) web portal on the Moreland Energy Foundation's website is a great new information hub for Councils and applicants.

It has up-to-date information on the SDAPP program itself, a bit about the SDAPP rollout project that is assisting Councils to implement the program and improve consistency, handy resources and examples, links to other information, and contacts for the program’s administration.

In addition to the webpage you are on, it’s a great starting point for informing yourself, and briefing your project team members, about Council’s new ESD assessment program. 

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Council joins the Green Building Council of Australia


Council has taken an important step towards adopting best practice guidelines for its future building projects by joining the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).

Membership of the GBCA will allow Council to engage with the green building industry and influence the development of guidelines that help reduce the environmental impacts of new buildings.

The Green Star rating system used by the GBCA provides advice on sustainable approaches to new and refurbished buildings and can award Council official certification for projects that meet world-class sustainability standards.

Since joining the GBCA, Council has contributed $10,000 towards the development of a new rating tool specifically aimed at new public buildings.

Created in collaboration with several councils, government agencies and industries across Australia, the rating tool will be used in Yarra to guide the design and construction of future Council buildings such as child care centres, libraries and community halls.

You can find more information on the Green Building Council of Australia's website.

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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

2015 Proud Finalist Banner 

The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne project will investigate the potential to transform Melbourne’s roofs, walls and facades into vegetated, leafy habitats.

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 (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
Environmentally Sustainable Design Advisors
9205 5366

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