Hobsons Bay City Council - Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD)

Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD)

Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD)

In November 2007, the Council committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations to become carbon neutral by 2020 and assisting the local community to do the same by 2030. Strategies to achieve these goals include reducing energy use through sustainable design for new buildings, and utilities conservation and efficiency works in existing buildings.

In its role as a planning and building regulator, Council has an opportunity to influence the design of new developments to be more sustainable. Up to 70 per cent of the energy efficiency of a building is determined by its design. On 24th April 2007, the Council endorsed the use of the Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) assessment tools - Sustainable Tools for Environmental Performance Strategy (STEPS) and Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS). As of March 2015, the STEPS and SDS tools have now been combined and replaced by the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) online tool.

Should I use BESS or STEPS / SDS?

BESS should be used for new applications, but during a transition period planning permit applicants have the option of using either BESS or STEPS / SDS. Once BESS is established, STEPS and SDS will be phased out.

After this time, STEPS will be locked to 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.


The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) is a new online sustainability assessment tool purpose-built for providing input into the Sustainable Design Assessment.

Access BESS at www.bess.net.au


  •          Is free for planning permit applicants to use
  •          Assesses any size and type of building, including mixed use developments
  •          Is easy to use
  •          Can be used to benchmark against other developments
  •          Streamlines the planning permit process
  •          Reduces running costs of new buildings
  •          Provides liveability and useability benefits for building owners and users

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

The BESS project is supported by Victorian Government funding.

Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)

Planning permit applicants are required to submit a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) which includes a BESS report. Council strongly encourages applicants to use this rating tool. The purpose of requesting applicants to use this tool is to:

  • ensure buildings meet adequate environmental performance standards
  • provide a clear outline of the standards required by Council
  • provide a consistent approach in assessing planning applications and their environmental impact
  • provide flexibility in achieving environmental performance standards through simple assessment tools; and
  • promote awareness and knowledge of the benefits of making developments more sustainable from the planning stage.

Planning permit applicants are required to submit an SDA where the following types of development are proposed:

  • all new multi-unit or mixed use applications with 10 or more dwellings
  • all new industrial buildings
  • all new commercial buildings

One copy of a Sustainable Design Assessment should be submitted which includes:

  • a BESS report
  • sustainability commitments noted on all relevant plans
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