Skip to main content

Sustainable design

The protection of our environment is an important global and local responsibility. We want to help lead the transformation in how we live and use our resources in the future.

Today, buildings produce 20% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions through the use of energy during operation. What's more, the construction of buildings, including demolition waste, contributes 40% of all the materials sent to landfill. Buildings also use large amounts of mains water in operation for non-drinking purposes.

Sustainable design is a key priority in the development of today's built environment. Sustainable design protects our environment, secures today's living standards, and future-proofs our community against rising energy, water, and waste disposal costs.

Bayside City Council recommends Sustainable Design Standards for the environmental performance of buildings that we share  with other Victorian councils.  When applying for a planning permit, you should incorporate and submit environmentally sustainable development (ESD) information with your planning application.

Any new 'medium' or 'large' development should achieve best practice in environmentally sustainable development, from the design stage through to construction and operation. Developments should address the key sustainable building categories listed below.

Fact Sheet: Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) Explained (PDF, 556.01KB)

We can assist you to incorporate environmentally sustainable design into your development during the planning process.

Please note: The approach to planning assessment in Victoria is based upon site specific considerations and the weighing up of competing objectives. Sustainability assessment is no different, and thus it is impossible to give concrete and universal definitions of what is an acceptable level of sustainable design. Refer to our Sustainable Design Standards for guidance. Other factors such as zones, overlays and the strategic context may impact the requirements expected of an individual site.

Sustainable Design in Bayside

Step 1

Start considering environmentally sustainable development early in planning. To help, we can provide ESD advice at pre-application meetings upon request.  

Step 2

Use the guide below to determine what information you should submit.  It will  depend on the size and type of your development:

Small developments

All planning applications other than described in the medium and large.

What to submit: Include ESD features in plans and drawings

Who can prepare the submission? Yourself or an ESD professional.

Example tools: STORM

Medium developments


  • 2-9 new residential dwellings


  • 100m2 to 1000m2 of non-residential, or
  • 100m2 to 1000m2 of alterations and additions

What to submit: A Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) that shows best practice in ESD

Who can prepare the submission? Yourself or an ESD professional

Example tools: BESS, STORM, MUSIC

Large developments


  • 10 or more residential dwellings


  • 1000m2 or greater of non-residential, or
  • 1000m2 or greater of alterations and additions

What to submit: A Sustainable Management Plan (SMP) that shows best practice in ESD

Who can prepare the submission? An ESD consultant

Example tools: BESS, Green Star, STORM, MUSIC

Step 3

Prepare your submission. Address the key sustainable building categories. Use the online sustainability assessment tools listed in the below 'Example tools' to assist you. We recommend using the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS).

Step 4

Submit your environmentally sustainable development submission with your planning application. This will not delay your planning application being processed.

Step 5

Wait until we assess your planning application and consider your environmentally sustainable design submission.

Step 6

We will provide you with feedback and discuss referral responses. This may include some ideas and practical ways to improve the standard of ESD.

What is a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)?

An SDA is a simple assessment that sets out how you will address the key sustainable building categories to deliver best practice in ESD performance. It supports your planning application for the proposed building. 

It may be necessary to engage an ESD professional to prepare a Sustainable Design Assessment. 

SDA’s should be clear and definitive about sustainability commitments and avoid the use of vague language. An example of vague language: Energy efficient light fittings will be used ‘where practical’. An example of clear language: All interior and exterior dwelling lighting will be energy efficient LED.

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) can be used to undertake a Sustainable Design Assessment.  Submit the BESS report with your planning application to meet the recommendations for an SDA.

You should make sure all Environmentally Sustainable Development initiatives in the SDA are clearly demonstrated and annotated on your architectural drawings.

What is a Sustainable Management Plan (SMP)?

An SMP is a detailed assessment that sets out how you will address the key sustainable building categories to deliver best practice in ESD performance.  It supports your planning application for the proposed building. 

You should make sure all Environmentally Sustainable Development initiatives in the report are clearly demonstrated and annotated on your architectural drawings.

The nature of larger developments provides the opportunity for increased environmental benefits and major resource savings. Hence, greater rigour in investigation is justified.

A BESS report alone will not meet council’s recommendations for a Sustainability Management Plan.

Preparation of a Sustainability Management Plan will generally require the engagement of an ESD consultant.  

An SMP should be submitted as a separate report with your planning application. You should make sure that all ESD initiatives addressed are clearly demonstrated and annotated on your architectural drawings.

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS)

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) is an online sustainability assessment tool purpose-built for the planning application stage. It can assess single dwellings, multi-dwellings, non-residential and mixed use developments of any size.

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

A published BESS assessment will demonstrate how your project meets a best practice standard in ESD. A BESS report would typically be an attachment to the SDA or SMP and support the design elements shown on the plans and the various statements.

BESS can be used by anyone applying for a Bayside planning permit. If your project is more complex than a simple extension or single house, we suggest you engage an ESD professional to prepare the BESS assessment. 

If you regularly prepare complex assessments it is recommended that you complete a BESS training course.

Read some frequently asked questions about BESS.

If you are ready to commence, you can register at


STORM is a free, online calculator for testing whether a site achieves best practice water quality objectives. STORM is managed by Melbourne Water.


MUSIC is a detailed stormwater modelling software that is available for purchase from eWater.

Green Star

Green Star is a green building certification system administered by the Green Building Council of Australia. The Green Star Design and As Built rating tool is suitable for use by large developments, although 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.


FirstRate5 is the software most commonly used in Victoria to demonstrate compliance with the National Construction Code of Australia energy efficiency requirements for residential buildings. It uses the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) protocol.

FirstRate5 assesses the energy performance of a residential building’s envelope only. Meeting NCC energy efficiency standards through a 6-Star FirstRate energy rating does not reflect best practice standard.

An energy rating will have to be completed for most new dwellings and some extensions at the building permit stage. As a building’s orientation, glazing proportions and construction materials will impact the rating, we strongly recommended a preliminary energy rating assessment is conducted before lodging your drawings for a planning permit.  

You might have to apply for an amendment to your planning permit if a later energy rating shows that you have to amend the building design to meet minimum NCC standards. For this reason, many designers now use energy rating tools as design tools rather than as compliance tools.

More information on ESD Tools can be found on our Fact Sheet: ESD Tools (PDF, 568.92KB).

Sustainable Design Standards

The City of Bayside, as a member of the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) has identified 10 key sustainable building categories to be addressed.  If you are planning a medium or large development you are recommended to demonstrate best practice in each sustainable building category within your design.


The categories are:  

  • indoor environment quality
  • energy efficiency
  • water efficiency 
  • stormwater management
  • transport
  • waste management
  • urban ecology
  • building materials
  • innovation
  • construction and building management

Bayside City Council has provided Sustainable Design Fact Sheets for each category to guide design strategies and best practice standards.

Clause 21.06-2 of the MSS Planning Scheme sets out policy objectives for Bayside City Council.

Note that a 'pass' score in BESS is a required element of a Sustainable Design Assessment and Sustainability Management Plan, but the development should also achieve the objectives under Clause 21.06-2 of the Bayside Planning Scheme, or where these cannot be met, provide adequate demonstration why they cannot be met.

Council’s objectives

  • To achieve a healthy indoor environment quality for the wellbeing of building occupants, through provision of fresh air intake, cross ventilation and selection of materials with low toxicity
  • To achieve thermal comfort and natural daylight levels with minimal need to operate mechanical heating, ventilation, cooling and lighting systems
  • To minimise noise levels within buildings and noise transfer between buildings and external areas

Council’s objectives

  • To ensure the development demonstrates design potential to deliver energy efficiency  and low energy peak demand through appropriate building orientation, shading, optimised glazing, roof orientation and space allocation for solar panels and external heating and cooling systems
  • To reduce total operating greenhouse gas emissions


Council’s objectives

  • To improve water efficiency and reduce operating potable water use
  • To encourage the collection and reuse of stormwater
  • To encourage the appropriate use of alternative water sources (e.g. greywater)

Council’s objectives

  • To reduce the impacts of stormwater run-off through increased retention
  • To achieve best practice stormwater quality outcomes
  • To incorporate the use of water sensitive urban design, including stormwater re-use 

Council’s objectives

  • To ensure that the built environment is designed to promote the use of walking, cycling and public transport, in that order
  • To minimise car dependency
  • To support the use of low emissions vehicle technologies

Council’s objectives

  • To encourage waste avoidance, reuse and recycling during the design, construction and operation stages of development
  • To ensure durability of building materials and support material re-use
  • To ensure sufficient space is allocated for future change in waste management needs.

Council’s objectives

  • To protect and enhance biodiversity within the municipality and encourage the retention of significant trees
  • To provide environmentally sustainable landscapes and natural habitats, and minimise the urban heat island effect
  • To encourage the provision of space for productive gardens, particularly in larger residential developments.


Council encourages development applicants to also address these categories in any proposed development.

Council’s objectives

The overarching objective is that development should achieve best practice in environmentally sustainable development from the design stage through to construction and operation.