Environmentally Sustainable Design or ESD as it is referred to in the industry is an important element of town planning which is becoming more prevalent at permit application stage.

ESD seeks to achieve the most sustainable building design possible through reduced embodied energy, stormwater management, passive design  and reduced energy loading, amongst other techniques.

Within the Melbourne urban area there are many Council’s such as StonningtonYarra, Port Phillip and Moreland which are leading the way with regard to ESD measures required during the planning stage. These Council’s, along with a number of others, are proposing new planning policy to incorporate sustainable building design within their respective Planning Schemes.

This policy amendment is currently with the Minister for Planning awaiting a decision.

According to Moreland City Council the ESD policy will provide objectives and application requirements for residential, mixed use and non-residential development. It recognises the importance of considering environmentally sustainable design at the time of planning approval for new development so as to maximise sustainable design outcomes and minimise costs associated with retrofit and poor design.

Should the policy be approved, permit applicants will be required to submit a Sustainable Design Statement or a Sustainability Management Plan, of which is determined by the size of a development.

The Statement and Management Plans need to respond to design objectives in the following areas:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Water resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Storm water management
  • Transport
  • Waste management
  • Innovation, and
  • Urban ecology

In more recent weeks the State Government announced their intentions to undertake a review of Plan Melbourne. This ‘refresh’ is said to include new policy relating to climate change and energy efficiency which will reinforce the requirement for ESD at planning stage.

Having worked at Moreland City Council for over four years implementing aspects of the existing ESD initiatives, the Managing Director of URC Planning, Neil Cooney, is in the advantageous position of having the practical knowledge to move with these policy changes and achieve the best, balanced outcome. In particular, Neil was involved with in of Moreland’s and Melbourne’s landmark ESD projects; the Commons which has won many awards since.