A free online tool designed to aid building professionals in assessing the sustainability of their projects at the planning permit stage has been launched by an association of Victorian metropolitan councils.

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) is developed by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and designed to assist designers, builders and developers in demonstrating that they meet sustainability information requirements as part of a planning permit applications.

BESS will replace the existing tools, STEPS for residential planning and the Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS) for non-residential developments, and is governed by CASBE, so will applicable to all of its council members.

The tool covers some of the key elements that make up good liveability and design practice, and it is the goal of CASBE that it will deliver positive outcomes for developers, buyers, and building users alike.

Like STEPS and SDS, the new requirements demand a holistic design approach on 10 measures:

  • Indoor environment quality
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Stormwater management
  • Materials
  • Urban ecology
  • Transport
  • Waste
  • Management
  • Innovation

The tool is designed to work with the new Environmental Sustainable Design policy CASBE submitted to the Victorian state planning department last year, but the policy has yet to be implemented.

If the policy is approved, it would give councils a statutory mechanism to make the submission of a sustainable design assessment or management plan compulsory for all developers and builders for most developments and some extensions.

CASBE is made up of representatives from Darebin, Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Kingston, Knox, Manningham, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse, Whittlesea and Yarra councils.