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Environmentally Sustainable Design

Environmentally sustainable design aims to reduce the impact of construction and building use on the natural environment. 

To make the design of your new home, renovation, or development more sustainable there are resources and guidance to help you at the planning permit stage.

Many Victorian Councils already support this process to improve ESD outcomes and it is a priority action in the Maroondah Housing Strategy. Council is also working towards the sustainable design of its own buildings guided by the Maroondah ESD Policy for Council Buildings.

Benefits of environmentally sustainable design (ESD)

Typically, buildings that incorporate Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) are more comfortable to live in, have reduced operating costs and are the design is a valuable feature at time of sale. 

By creating buildings that incorporate sustainable design your contribution to sustainability can have broader community benefits, such as less greenhouse gas emissions and demand on mains water, reducing pollution that enters our waterways and maintaining and enhancing our leafy green environment.

Include sustainable design in your new home or development

To help with your design and planning permit process: 

Step 1

Determine the category of your development (small, medium or large) and identify the sustainable design-related information to submit with your planning permit application.

This process can also be used to show how the environmentally sustainable design requirements of local planning policy 22.06 Ringwood Activity Centre will be met.

See the SDAPP Explained fact sheets below for how the sustainable design assessment in the planning process works.


Applicants of small scale developments (under 10 dwellings and non-residential developments under 500m2) are encouraged to consider and submit sustainable design-related information with a planning permit application to show how the development will address sustainability.

Medium and large

ESD reports are requested for medium and large developments as described:

Residential Non-residential  Prepare and submit: 
10-14 new dwellings Development of a building with a gross floor area between 500m2and 1,000m2
  • A Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)
  • A Green Travel Plan (for office space of 500m2 or more)
15 or more new dwellings Development of a building with a gross floor area of more than 1,000m2
  • A Sustainable Management Plan (SMP),
  • A Green Travel Plan (for 20+ dwellings and office space of more than 1,000m2)

Step 2

Use the SDAPP fact sheets to identify best practice and help plan the environmentally sustainable design of your development. You may want to start with:

Explore the 10 sustainability categories that include best practice standards:

1. Indoor Environment Quality  (pdf, 236KB)

2. Energy Efficiency  (pdf, 252KB)

2,1. Sunshading  (pdf, 583KB)

3. Water Efficiency  (pdf, 190KB)

4. Stormwater Management  (pdf, 527KB)

4.1. Site Permeability  (pdf, 2MB)

5. Building Materials  (pdf, 230KB)

6. Transport  (pdf, 389KB)

7. Waste Management  (pdf, 246KB)

8. Urban Ecology  (pdf, 500KB)

8.1. Green Roof, Walls and Facades  (pdf, 2MB)

9. Innovation  (pdf, 171KB)

9.1. Melbourne’s Climate  (pdf, 265KB)

10. Construction and Building Management  (pdf, 103KB)

Step 3 Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard

Use the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS), or alternative assessment approach, to demonstrate how your proposed development will incorporate environmentally sustainable design. BESS can also be used on existing buildings to help you identify how to improve sustainability performance.

BESS is a free online tool that is purpose-built for the planning permit stage and can be used for any type and size of development, including mixed use. Where BESS is used, a pass in BESS is required, as a minimum.

  • Where a Sustainable Design Assessment is requested a BESS report can be submitted as part of a planning permit application. A Sustainable Design Assessment can generally be prepared by the applicant, without the need to engage a sustainability professional.
  • Where a Sustainable Management Plan is requested, the BESS report should accompany the Sustainable Management Plan as part of a planning permit application. A Sustainable Management Plan is a detailed sustainability assessment that shows how beneficial, easy to implement, best practice sustainable design will be achieved and that it has been considered in a holistic way as part of the design.  The Sustainable Management Plan should identify relevant sustainability targets or performance standards and document how they will be achieved.
  • A Sustainable Management Plan generally requires it be prepared by a sustainability professional.

To use the BESS tool, register on the BESS website, create a new project and then add the details of your project under the various sustainability categories. Once you have completed your assessment click on ‘View report’. Follow the instructions on the summary page and once your report is complete select ‘Finalise Application’. Submit a copy of the BESS report with your planning permit application.

Green Travel Plan

A Green Travel Plan outlines onsite initiatives and offsite services to encourage residents and staff of larger developments to use sustainable transport options (such as walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing). A Green Travel Plan should be tailored to the development type and should highlight:

  • Parking facilities for bicycles, motor bikes, small cars, electric cars and onsite and nearby car share systems
  • End of trip facilities for staff, including the location of showers and personal lockers
  • Bicycle and walking maps.
  • Nearby public transport stops
  • Timetables for public transport services
  • Availability of free or substituted public transport tickets through the employer or relevant Owners Corporation
  • Nearby recreation areas.
  • An organisation’s car-pooling scheme.

Further information

For further information on environmentally sustainable design, contact Council's Environment Planner on 1300 88 22 33 or email

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