Tools to help you with environmentally sustainable design planning

Use an online sustainability assessment tool to help with your submission.

The following tools can assist you prepare an application and benchmark it against other developments.

The tools are:

  • BESS
  • SDS
  • FirstRate

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS)

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

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS):

  • 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
  • can be used to benchmark against other developments
  • streamlines the planning permit process
  • reduces running costs of new buildings

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

Read more on our ESD Tools FACTSHEET.

When using the BESS tool, do I use the ‘energy’ or ‘area corrected energy’ values of my energy rating?

The BESS tool works with the ‘Area Corrected Energy’ values.

Should I use BESS or STEPS / SDS?

BESS replaces the STEPS and SDS tools.

BESS should be used for 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.

STEPS is now locked to new applications, but 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.

What is the difference between FirstRate, STEPS, BESS and Green Star?

Buildings can be designed to various efficiency and amenity standards.

The National Construction Code of Australia (NCC) outlines minimum necessary standards to meet relevant health, safety, amenity and energy efficiency objectives.

FirstRate is the software most commonly used to demonstrate compliance with the NCC and uses the NatHERS protocol. Meeting NCC energy efficiency standards through a 6-Star FirstRate rating does not reflect best practice standard.

Planning tool BESS

The planning tool BESS specifies best practice benchmarks in different environmental categories.

Meeting these benchmarks confirms best practice standard for medium to large scale buildings. The BESS tool replaces STEPS and SDS as one integrated tool for residential and non-residential or mixed use projects.

Green star rating

Large scale buildings can also demonstrate best practice standard by obtaining a Green star rating (4, 5 or 6 Stars) through the Green Building Council Australia (GBCA).

Particular care should be taken that all ESD commitments contained in an SMP can be clearly demonstrated at planning stage. Reliance on operational commitments to gain a Green Star benchmarked rating will not be accepted at planning stage.

More information on ESD Tools can be found on our ESD Tools Fact Sheet.

Green Factor Tool

This online tool, created by the City of Melbourne, enables designers to benchmark and improve the effectiveness of their green infrastructure designs for new buildings.

It will help new building designs to reduce urban heat, enhance biodiversity, use water sensitively and improve mental wellbeing through increased urban greening. The tool has been developed based on research from the University of Melbourne.

Use the Green Factor Tool to check your green factor score and submit the scorecard with your planning permit application.