Useful Links &Tools to implement Sustainable Design in a project or development.

Integrating sustainable design strategies should not be an afterthought towards any design process.

The forefront to any strategy is to implement passive design principles at the beginning of each project. In passive design,  you are working with the climate, not against it.

The 6  key aspects would be:
  • Orientation
  • Shading
  • Thermal Mass
  • Passive solar heating and cooling
  • Insulation
  • Glazing

To begin your project with this in mind, good passive design strategies would achieve thermal comfortability within your building, reduce energy bills  and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Whilst I will not dwell in detail to each aspect above, what are other tools or programs that are accessible to the public that allows sustainability strategies to be integrated for mid to larger projects?

In Victoria, The Build Environment Sustainability Scorecard or BESS has been recently created & introduced by local governments to assist Architects, Builders & Developers to show how a proposed development demonstrates sustainable design at the planning permit stage.  It replaces the STEPS & SDS program that has now been phased out.

This program generates a percentage score against a “best practice or excellence” benchmark and a summary at the end of the assessment.

The key areas that are assessed in BESS are:
  • Management
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Stormwater
  • IEQ
  • Transport
  • Waste
  • Urban Ecology
  • Innovation

Having recently attended the BESS course for domestic residence, an important question was raised, “To what extent do the promise of applying certain strategies on a score report withstand when cost implications arise during tendering? When is a promise, just a promise?

It should withstand, especially when it is documented on the endorsed drawings & sustainability statements submitted with the application. This is because BESS is specifically designed as a guide that allows you to work progressively through the assessment of your project, it is recommended under the Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) framework.

So what does it mean?
It simply means that applicants would be required to submit this information in the form of statements (SDA-Sustainable Design Assessment for smaller projects) or (SMP- Sustainability Management Plan for larger to complex projects). Councils may not include it on the list of documents to be required, but chances are, it will be requested in the RFI, Request For Further information.

The other useful tool is the STORM and MUSIC tools from Melbourne Water. The STORM calculator can be used to  design stormwater treatments for domestic and smaller subdivisions projects, whilst the MUSIC (Model for Urban Stormwater Improvement Conceptualization ) is used for more complex projects.

With the latter primarily used by stormwater professionals, the calculator can be easily used by the general public. This program provides the information needed to ensure that projects achieve the stormwater treatment objectives required by state and local government planning provisions.

So there it is, 3 useful links that are accessible to the public that are FREE and beneficial to any prospective user.  As a conclusion, it is the awareness, responsibly and active collaboration of clients, Architects, Designers, and Builders to instigate the importance and act in the direction of implementing them during the planning stage, and to putting these strategies into action without cutting design comprises or costs during tendering.

And of course,  to commit to them during construction.


Nurul Sedek

Project Architect
BY Projects Architecture