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 and achieve the objectives of Maroondah Local Planning Policy clause 22.15, 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. Maroondah City Council is committed to creating an environmentally sustainable and liveable city. Critical to achieving this commitment is for development to meet appropriate environmentally sustainable design standards. Council is also working towards the sustainable design of its own buildings guided by the Maroondah ESD Policy for Council Buildings.

Why sustainable design?

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.

Maroondah’s Sustainable Design Standards

Key sustainable building categories

The Maroondah Planning Scheme - Maroondah Local Planning Policy Clause 22.15 sets out a number of policy objectives under key sustainability categories.

Fact sheets 

Fact sheets can be found below for each of the key sustainability categories. The fact sheets provide more information about each category including design strategies, guidelines and best practice standards.

Explore the sustainability categories below that include best practice standards:

Introduction to SDAPP(PDF, 914KB)

Indoor Environment Quality(PDF, 493KB)

Energy Efficiency(PDF, 436KB)

Sunshading(PDF, 981KB)

Water Efficiency(PDF, 397KB)

Stormwater Management(PDF, 2MB)

Site Permeability(PDF, 4MB)

Building Materials(PDF, 468KB)

Transport(PDF, 763KB)

Waste Management(PDF, 452KB)

Urban Ecology(PDF, 1001KB)

Green Roof, Walls and Facades(PDF, 5MB) 

Melbourne’s Climate(PDF, 780KB)

Construction and Building Management(PDF, 236KB)

Daylight(PDF, 2MB)

Natural ventilation(PDF, 2MB)

Zero carbon(PDF, 3MB)

Building envelope performance(PDF, 2MB)

Electric vehicles(PDF, 1MB)

ESD tools(PDF, 801KB)

Please note: a 'pass' score in BESS is a required element of an SDA or SMP, but the development must also achieve the objectives under Clause 22.15, or provide adequate explanation if they cannot be met.

Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP)

Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) and Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) are essential design components for all types of development, regardless of scale.

Maroondah implements Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) to secure good sustainable design outcomes for all new development.

What to submit

Your application submission should include the required ESD reportESD Tool Assessment report and plans showing the ESD features


The information submitted will depend on the size of your proposed development. Details of what you need to submit can be found in the table below

Step 1: Application requirements

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 Maroondah Local Planning Policy Clause 22.15 will be met.

See the SDAPP explained fact sheets (in drop down box 2) for how the sustainable design assessment in the planning process works.

Small developments

Applicants of small scale developments (under 3 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 developments

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

ESD application requirements

Type of development

Application requirements

Accommodation / Mixed Use with residential component

  • 3 to 9 dwellings;
  • Alterations and additions creating additional gross floor area between 500m² - 999m²
  • Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)
  • BESS


  • Development of 10 or more dwellings
  • Alterations and additions creating additional gross floor area more than 1000m²
  • Sustainability Management Plan (SMP)
  • Green Travel Plan (GTP)

ESD application requirements

Type of development

Application requirements


  • Development of a non-residential building with a gross floor area of between 500m² and 999m²
  • Extensions to an existing building creating additional gross floor area between 500 m² to 999m².
  • Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)
  • Green Travel Plan (GTP)
  • Development of a non-residential building with a gross floor area of more than 1000m²
  • Extensions to an existing building creating additional gross floor area of more than 1000m².
  • Sustainability Management Plan (SMP)
  • Green Travel Plan (GTP)

Step 2: Sustainable Assessments Process

ESD Assessment Reports

Depending on the size of development proposed, either a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) or a Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) is required. (Refer to Table 1 above). A Stormwater Management Assessment (SMA) can be submitted in response to stormwater management (WSUD) requirements. 

Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)

An SDA is a simple sustainability assessment of a proposed building at the planning stage that demonstrates best practice in ESD performance. The content demonstrates how your proposed development addresses the 10 sustainable building categories. 

Our Sustainable Design Assessment template provides an indication of the information you need to submit.

Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) template(DOCX, 59KB)

Sustainability Management Plan (SMP)

An SMP is a detailed sustainability assessment of a proposed building at the planning stage that demonstrates best practice in ESD performance. The content demonstrates how your proposed development address the 10 sustainable building categories and identifies relevant sustainability targets or performance standards and document how they will be achieved.

Preparation of a Sustainability Management Plan will generally require the engagement of a sustainability consultant

Our Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) template provides an indication of the information you need to submit.

Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) template(DOCX, 54KB)

Green Travel Plan (GTP)

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 organisations car-pooling scheme.

Assessment tools

A report from an ESD assessment tool should be appended to your main ESD report. These tools provide an assessment of your proposal against an established rating system.

Some ESD assessment tools assess a broad range of ESD categories, while others focus only on a single component of ESD, such as stormwater quality or energy efficiency.

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS)

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. A BESS score of 50 per cent indicates a 'Pass', while a score of 70 per cent or greater indicates 'Excellence'.

There are four mandatory categories which must be passed: energy, water, stormwater, indoor environmental quality. Additional score points can be gained from other categories including: waste, transport, urban ecology, management.

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 fully published copy of the BESS report with your planning permit application.

Green Star

Green Star is the Green Building Council of Australia’s certification system. Their Design and As Built rating tool assesses a broad range of ESD categories and is suitable for assessing large-scale developments. Reliance on operational commitments to gain a Green Star benchmarked rating will not be accepted at planning stage. 

Please note: Green Star equivalency has been denounced by GBCA, so the Council do not accept Green Star equivalency. If the applicant does not intend to formally register the project with the GBCA and complete the Design Review as part of the planning permit process, the project should use the BESS tool to demonstrate compliance with Council’s ESD Policy


The STORM Calculator is a user friendly, free online tool developed by Melbourne Water. It is designed to be suitable for applicants without any formal training designing stormwater treatment systems. 

STORM assesses stormwater quality outcomes for small to medium-scale developments, as part of an ESD assessment. The STORM Calculator inputs include the total development area and all impervious areas (including impervious areas where no treatment will be provided for stormwater runoff). The calculator enables users to select from a range of WSUD treatment types.

An overall STORM score of at least 100 per cent is required to demonstrate that best practice stormwater management has been achieved.


The Model for Urban Stormwater Improvement Conceptualisation (MUSIC) is a modelling tool that uses historic rainfall data to estimate catchment runoff and predict the performance of WSUD infrastructure. It enables a significantly higher degree of modelling complexity and flexibility compared to the STORM calculator. 

The MUSIC model should only be used by those with appropriate expertise. MUSIC models used to prepare WSUD responses for the City of Maroondah must be developed in accordance with Melbourne Water MUSIC Guidelines.

MUSIC users must have a software licence and a minimum level of training and competency to develop a MUSIC model. MUSIC training is provided by eWater. MUSIC is generally the most suitable assessment tool for complex medium to large-scale developments (e.g. large multi-lot subdivisions) and any proposal that involves stormwater harvesting.


FirstRate5 assesses residential energy efficiency for the building envelope only. 

The software is most commonly used in Victoria to demonstrate compliance with the National Construction Code of Australia (NCC) energy efficiency requirements for residential buildings. It uses the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) protocol, however, a 6-Star FirstRate energy rating does not reflect best practice energy efficiency for ESD.

A building’s orientation, glazing proportions and construction materials largely impact the rating. Many designers now use energy rating tools as design tools rather than as compliance tools.

We strongly recommended conducting a preliminary assessment before lodging your drawings for a planning permit. This can reduce the likelihood of having to apply to amend your planning permit if a later energy rating shows that you have to change the building design to meet minimum NCC standards.

An energy rating will have to be completed for most new dwellings and some extensions at the building permit stage at the latest.

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)

Urban development impacts the natural water cycle by creating impervious surfaces that affect the quantity and quality of stormwater. This generates increased pollution and erosion. In Maroondah, stormwater runoff and pollutants are detrimental to catchment or watercourse of both the Yarra River and Dandenong Creek. Water sensitive urban design mitigates these impacts while reducing water bills and creating greener urban areas.

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) can capture, treat and reuse stormwater onsite to dramatically improve the quality and quantity of water entering our waterways. Integrating WSUD into your development will minimise its downstream impacts and also enables you to conserve potable (drinking) water by substituting it with rainwater.

Why water sensitive urban design (WSUD)

Water sensitive urban design provides many social, economic and environmental benefits. WSUD strategies allow you to achieve the following outcomes and helps Melbourne transition to a water sensitive city: 

  • minimise impact on receiving waters and improve water quality in streams and in groundwater
  • protect the scenic and recreational values of streams, and riparian habitats for native plants and animals
  • create greener urban environments with high visual amenity and achieve passive cooling through increased vegetation cover
  • prevent erosion of banks along our Waterways and reduce flooding risk                                                                                             
  • conserve potable water by providing an alternative water source for uses such as, irrigation and toilet flushing.

Best practice

The Victorian Urban Stormwater Best Practice Environmental Management Guidelines (Victorian Stormwater Committee, 1999) define best practice stormwater pollutant removal as:

  • 80 per cent reduction in the typical urban load of total suspended solids
  • 45 per cent reduction in the typical urban load of total phosphorous
  • 45 per cent reduction in the typical urban load of total nitrogen
  • 70 per cent retention of typical urban load of litter.

In addition, the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP) require flow from the site to be:

Designed to ensure that flows downstream of the site are restricted to pre-development levels unless increased flows are approved by the relevant drainage authority and there are no detrimental downstream impacts.

To find out more visit the Melbourne Water website

Demonstrating best practice

Meeting the VPP requirements can currently be demonstrated in two ways:

  • submitting a STORM report achieving a score of at least 100 per cent
  • submitting a MUSIC model demonstrating a treatment train that achieves the above targets.

How to develop a response

A water sensitive urban design (WSUD) response must clearly demonstrate how stormwater runoff will managed in accordance with the VPP Stormwater Management objectives.

Step 1: When should you develop a WSUD response?

WSUD responses should be developed as early as possible in the development process to allow WSUD to be fully integrated with the site design, such as roof shape and the site levels. This will result in a better WSUD response and easier assessment process.

Step 2: Determine catchment area and discharge point(s)

Identify and measure the area of all outdoor “hard” surfaces on your site plan. Hard surfaces include roofs, balconies, verandas, pergolas, concreted and paved areas. (Note that permeable paving does not count as a hard surface with respect to generating stormwater runoff). 

Depending on the type of roof construction, sections of the roof may drain to different points of the development, and therefore may need to be separated into sub-roof areas. Sub-roof areas may be combined where the roof runoff will be diverted to a common WSUD treatment, i.e. rainwater tank.

The legal point of discharge for the property should also be identified. Discharges from WSUD treatments will need to be conveyed to this point.

Step 3: Choosing WSUD infrastructure

Select which WSUD treatment will be used to treat runoff from each hard surface. Take into account any constraints on available space and site levels relative to the legal point of discharge. 

Note: Currently, the Council discourages raingardens as a WSUD treatment option for medium scale project.

Step 4: Size rainwater tank and/or treatment system

Size your rainwater tanks using the assistance of STORM and MUSIC.

Case studies

Howard’s sustainable home - Ringwood East

  • Housing type: stand-alone house
  • Project type: new build
  • Builder: David Coates
  • Designer: Sustainable Building and Design
  • House specs: 139m2, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

This light-filled contemporary home, completed in 2020, showcases what is possible when sustainability is embedded in the design DNA by Sustainable Building and Design.

Being shortlisted for the 2021 Sustainability Awards indicates this home is amongst the best for recent sustainable Australian builds. The design is a finalist for “Single Dwelling (New)” and “Smart Building Ideas” while the designer/builder is a finalist for “Emerging Sustainable Architect/Designer”.


The owner wanted to create a comfortable, healthy, attractive home with a small carbon footprint and low maintenance requirements.

The design evolved over time as specific features of the site dictated which sustainable building ideas were the best fit.

Sustainability design features

  • The site of the house has north-south orientation and is ideal for taking full advantage of passive solar principles.
  • The design achieved a design Excellence Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) score of 71 per cent.
  • The design achieved an 8.4 Star NatHERS rating which highlights minimising the amount of energy required for heating or cooling.
  • All electric home with 8 kW rooftop solar power system linked to a LG Chem 9.8 kWh battery.
  • Reuse and recycle of a wealth of beautiful materials by dismantling, rather than demolishing the original house:
    • hardwood timber used as cladding, door frames
    • messmate timber used for benchtops and bathroom cabinets
    • reclaimed ash floorboards became bedroom flooring
    • recyclable steel used for cladding and kitchen benchtop (with integrated double sink)
    • reclaimed steel roofing from the original carport was reused as distinctive, low-maintenance cladding.
  • Rainwater harvesting with the use of 7,000L rainwater tank above ground.
  • Indigenous themed landscaping with local indigenous, native and water wise plants, orchard, wicking beds, worm farm.
  • House constructed using electricity from an off-grid solar power system.

Key sustainable design commitments

Energy efficiency

  • Passive heating and cooling:
    • cross ventilation
    • passive solar designed home
    • thermal mass.
  • Active heating and cooling:
    • ceiling fans
    • heat pump
    • split system air conditioner.
  • Water heating:
    • hot water heat pump.
  • Draught proofing
  • Efficient appliances
  • Energy monitoring
  • Energy efficient lighting
    • LED lights throughout
    • Natural daylight
  • Electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Renewable energy consumption
    • all-electric home
  • 8kw PV system
  • Average daily energy consumption: 6kwh
  • Energy storage/battery: LG Chem 9.8 kWh battery
  • Solar PV grid connect

Water harvesting and saving features

  • Rainwater storage -7,000L plastic tank above ground
  • Low flow shower heads
  • Low flow taps.

Window protection

  • Blinds
  • Eaves designed to shade windows in Summer but admit sunlight during Winter
  • Solar pergola

Sustainable and recycled materials

  • Sustainable materials (SCM mixture from VicMix used for the slab to reduce the concrete's carbon footprint)
  • Recycled and reused materials:
    • bathroom cabinets
    • benchtops
    • cladding
    • doors
    • house - all materials reused
    • floorboards
    • sleepers
    • timber

Insulation specifications

  • Ceiling: Bulk – glass wool, R6.0
  • Floor: Kingspan K3 40mm insulation, R2.5
  • Under roof insulation: Reflective foil, R2.4
  • Internal walls insulation: Bulk – polyester, R2.5
  • External walls:Bulk – polyester, R2.5

Landscaping and garden

  • Local indigenous plants
  • Orchard
  • Native plants
  • Water wise plants
  • Wicking beds
  • Worm farm

Waste reduction practices

  • Compost all food scraps
  • Make jams/conserves
  • Recycle
  • Waste free/reduced construction site

Healthy indoor environmental quality features

  • Carpet free - tiles/concrete/timber flooring throughout
  • Cross flow ventilation
  • Indoor plants for air filtration
  • Low VOC paints/sealer/varnish
  • Natural light and ventilation
  • Natural oil sealer/finishes
  • Double glazed sliding windows/doors.

For more information on this build, visit Green Home Build - Sustainable House Day