Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process


Council regards environmental sustainability as a high priority for its built environment.

The extent of redevelopment occurring in the city affords an opportunity for significant  Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD) and development outcomes, which will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, potable water use, the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect and energy and water costs.

Residential, commercial and industrial buildings dominate the city's redevelopment. These sectors are a major contributor to Maribyrnong's greenhouse gas emissions, and ESD offers an opportunity to reduce emissions, energy consumption, waste, potable water use and stormwater impacts.

To ensure our municipality achieves its environmental targets, Council has introduced the Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) program. SDAPP now makes it mandatory to consider environmental impacts in all building and planning applications at the planning stage. 

What is Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process?

The Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) refers to the inclusion of key environmental performance considerations into the planning permit approvals process.  SDAPP aims to achieve improved sustainable building outcomes for the long-term benefit of the community and the environment.

SDAPP can be best summarised as follows:

  • A guide to achieving improved sustainable building outcomes.
  • A practical approach to assessing sustainable design outcomes during the planning permit application process.
  • The inclusion of key environmental performance standards into the planning permit approvals process.

Why incorporate sustainable design into planning processes?

The protection of our environment is an important local and global issue we all must consider.  Through responsible and sustainable planning, Council aims to lead the transition in how we live and use our resources, particularly in the construction of residential dwellings and large scale developments.

Passive design principles, including thermal mass, external shading, building orientation, cross ventilation and better insulation in buildings, reduces the requirement for energy intensive mechanical systems to maintain comfortable internal temperatures.

Incorporating renewable energy, such as solar, further reduces a building’s environmental impact.  Good building design reduces power consumption, saves money and addresses the effects of climate change.

Through the planning permit application process, Council is committed to sustainable design in both the construction and retro-fitting of residential and commercial buildings.

How do I determine my SDAPP category?

The flowchart below has been designed to assist you in determining the category that your proposal falls into, along with the plans and assessments that should accompany your application.

Determining your SDAPP category


What are the 10 key sustainable building categories?

10 key building categories have been developed to help you assess your building proposal or planning application.
The objective of each building category is outlined below.




Indoor Environment Quality

Indoor Environment Quality

To achieve a healthy indoor environment quality for the wellbeing of building occupants.

Energy Efficiency and Sunshading

Energy Efficiency and Sunshading

To ensure the efficient use of energy, reduce  greenhouse emissions and operating costs, and reduce peak energy demand.

Water Efficiency

Water Efficiency

To ensure the efficient use of water, reduce potable water consumption, reduce operating costs, and to encourage the appropriate use of alternative water sources.

Stormwater Management and Site Permeability

Stormwater Management and Site Permeability

To reduce the impact of stormwater run-off, achieve best practice stormwater quality outcomes, and to include Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles.

Building Materials

Building Materials

To minimise the environmental impacts of building materials by encouraging the use of materials with a favourable lifecycle assessment.



To minimise car dependency and to ensure that the built environment is designed to promote the use of public transport, walking and cycling.

Waste Management

Waste Management

To minimise waste, by encouraging re-use and recycling during the construction and operational stages of the development.

Urban Ecology and Green Roofs, Walls and Floors

Urban Ecology and Green Roofs, Walls and Facades

To protect and enhance biodiversity, encourage the planting of indigenous vegetation and reduce the Urban Heat Island (UHI) impact of the development.

Innovation and Melbourne's Climate

Innovation and Melbourne's Climate

To encourage innovative technology into the design of the development that will deliver enhanced environmental and social benefits to the community.

Construction and Building Management

Construction and Building Management

To encourage a holistic and integrated design and construction process that will reduce overall construction costs, ensure regulatory compliance and minimise the environmental footprint of the development.

How can I get the sustainable building category fact sheets?

To assist you in better understanding the SDAPP framework, we have prepared a series of ESD fact sheets in partnership with the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE). 

You can download the fact sheets by topic or as a consolidated document below.



 0.0 SDAPP Explained(PDF, 461KB)
 1.0 Indoor Environment Quality(PDF, 310KB)
 1.1 Daylight(PDF, 2MB)  
 1.2 Natural Ventilation(PDF, 2MB)  
 2.0 Energy Efficiency(PDF, 301KB)  
 2.1 Sunshading(PDF, 633KB)
  2.2  Building Envelope Performance(PDF, 2MB)
 2.3 Zero Carbon Development(PDF, 3MB)
 3.0 Water Efficiency(PDF, 234KB)  
 4.0 Stormwater Management(PDF, 573KB)
 4.1 Site Permeability(PDF, 2MB)  
 5.0 Building Materials(PDF, 272KB)
 6.0 Transport(PDF, 431KB)
 6.1 Electric Vehicles(PDF, 1MB)  
 7.0 Waste Management(PDF, 290KB)  
 8.0 Urban Ecology(PDF, 545KB)  
 8.1 Green Roofs, Walls and Facades(PDF, 2MB)  
 9.0 Innovation(PDF, 215KB)  
 9.1 Melbourne's Climate(PDF, 524KB)  
 10.0 Construction and Building Management(PDF, 144KB)
 - ESD Tools(PDF, 466KB)
 - Download all the fact sheets(PDF, 18MB)

What documents does Council need from me?

The following table is a summary of the documentation that must accompany your planning permit application before we can assess it for its Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) elements.  To work out which SDAPP category your proposal sits within, please refer to the How to determine your SDAPP Category panel above.

SDAPP category

 Required documentation

Important information

Small Category
Not applicable.

There is no additional documentation required in addition to the planning permit application documents.

We strongly recommend applicants seek advice from Council in relation to the ESD elements, as all planning permit applications and building proposals are rated against the 10 key sustainable building categories.

Medium Category
Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)

Complete the online BESS tool or complete the relevant City of Maribyrnong SDA online template for:

Once completed, provide a copy of the assessment with your planning application or building proposal.

Large Category

Sustainable Management Plan (SMP)

Green Travel Plan
(Council best practice standard)

This detailed sustainability assessment must be prepared by an ESD expert given the complexities of proposals in this category.

Large category proposals will be subject to a rigorous ESD assessment by Council Planning officers against each of the 10 key sustainable building categories.

Considering the complexities of large SDAPP category proposals, we strongly recommend you engage the services of an ESD consultant or equivalent ESD professional in the preparation of your SMP or a Green Travel Plan.

What is a Green Travel Plan?

If your planning application involves the construction of between 60 and 200 residential dwellings1, or if you are seeking a significant reduction in parking you will be required to submit a Green Travel Plan with your planning application.

A Green Travel Plan is a number of on-site initiatives and nearby off-site services to encourage occupants to use sustainable transport options such as cycling, walking or car pooling to access and depart the location.

A Green Travel Plan should highlight:

  • Parking facilities for bicycles, motor bikes, small cars, electric cars and onsite and nearby car share services.
  • End of trip facilities for staff such as showers and lockers.
  • Bicycle and walking maps.
  • nearby public transport information including stop locations and frequency.
  • availability of discounted or free tickets for public transport use through employer or owners corporations.
  • Nearby recreation areas.
  • Car pooling schemes of tenant organisations.


Note: If your development application includes 200 or more dwellings, or more than 10000 sqm of retail or office space, you will be required to submit an Integrated Transport Plan.  For more information on this requirement, please contact our Urban Planning team by calling 9688 0200 or emailing

Where can I get more information and tools online?

Links to online Environmentally Sustainable Design information and rating calculators are available below.

If you wish to discuss the environmentally sustainable design aspects of your specific planning permit application or building project, please contact our Urban Planning team by calling 9688 0200 or emailing

Online assessment tools

Use the City of Maribyrnong templates to assist in the preparation of your Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) required for medium category proposals:

Visit the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) website to use the online assessment tool. The BESS tool, created by local governments in Victoria, assists builders and developers demonstrate how a proposed development addresses sustainable design at the planning permit stage.


 Online rating calculators

Visit the Federal Government's Water Rating website to discover how water efficient the appliances you plan on installing are, by using the Water Efficient Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme.

Use the calculator available on the Energy Rating website to make informed decisions about the energy efficiency of the appliances you plan to install.

Visit the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) - a national rating system that measures energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment.

Visit the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme website to work out the star rating of your development based on its design.

Visit Melbourne Water's STORM calculator to assess whether best practice stormwater objectives have been achieved in your development.


General information

Visit the Green Building Council of Australia's website, the nation's authority on sustainable buildings, communities and cities.

Visit the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment website, which is an association made up of many local government authorities including Maribyrnong City Council, and is committed to the creation of a sustainable built environment.

Visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's website to view the key strategic document that governs development in the City of Maribyrnong.

Visit the Federal Government’s Your Home website which is a guide to building, buying or renovating a home. It shows how to create a comfortable home with low impact on the environment, economical to run, healthier to live in, and adaptable to your changing needs.

Visit Melbourne Water’s website and get tips and ideas on how to create your very own self-watering, low-maintenance rain garden by capturing stormwater.