Sustainable Development

The Council Plan 2021-2025 seeks to achieve an environmentally sustainable future.

3D rendering of a Sustainable building architecture model with blueprints, energy efficiency chart and other documents

This key goal will, in part, be realised via the City of Ballarat’s new Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) policy and the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework (SSF).

These new policies were adopted by Council in early 2023 and represent the City of Ballarat’s planning response to climate change. Together, these policies seek to ensure that future development, including the subdivision of land, generate improved environmental outcomes.

Online assessment tools

To satisfy Council’s adopted ESD policy, development proposals are required to achieve minimum ‘scores.'

These scores can be calculated using identified online assessment tools.

To satisfy Council’s ESD policy, the following scores must be achieved:

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard
A ‘best practice’ overall minimum BESS score of 50%. This includes mandatory scores in each of the four key categories of:

  • Energy performance - 50%;
  • Water resources - 50%;
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) - 50%; and
  • Stormwater management - 100%; 

Melbourne Water's STORM Calculator
Minimum STORM score of 100% required

Green Building Council of Australia Green Star Rating System
For larger developments, a minimum 4-Star Green Star rating is required

Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD)

Qualifying developments must respond to the requirements of Council’s ESD policy.

The City of Ballarat is a member of the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and its approach is informed by CASBE’s Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) as set out below.

What is the SDAPP program?

The SDAPP program refers to the inclusion of key environmental performance initiatives into the planning permit assessment process. The objective of the program is to ensure sustainable building outcomes for the long-term benefit of local communities.


  • Your guide to achieving more sustainable building outcomes;
  • A practical approach to assessing sustainable development initiatives through the planning permit assessment process; and
  • The consistent application of key environmental performance standards in the assessment process

Why is SDAPP important?

Building operations generate 20% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and makes use of significant amounts of potable water for purposes other than drinking. 

In addition to this, the construction process, including demolition works, accounts for 40% of all materials sent to landfill.

The protection of our environment is a critical shared responsibility. 

Through the SDAPP program, Council is leading Ballarat towards a more sustainable future where new buildings make better use of renewable sources of energy and, in turn, reduce their overall carbon footprints. The SDAPP process focuses not only upon the operational phase of a building, but the construction phase as well.

What is sustainable design?

Sustainable design is now a key priority in the planning assessment process. Sustainable design assists to protect the environment, secures today’s living standards and future-proofs local communities against rising energy, water and waste disposal costs.

Like many other Victorian Councils, the City of Ballarat has now developed its own Environmentally Sustainable Design policy. This policy applies to both residential and non-residential developments over certain sizes and seeks to respond to the purposes of Clause 15.01-2S (Building design) of the Ballarat Planning Scheme.

Whereas this clause advocates the broad application of sustainable design initiatives, Council’s adopted policy provides the metrics against which the purposes of Clause 15.01-2S will be measured.

The table below sets out the development thresholds and related requirements of the policy.

Development threshold

Requirement related to Clause 15.01-2S


2-9 dwellings

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM or other agreed method.

10 or more dwellings

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM, Green Star, MUSIC or other agreed methods and a Green Travel Plan.

A building used for accommodation other

than a dwelling with a gross floor area between 100 and 1,500 square metres

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM or other agreed method.

A building used for accommodation other

than dwellings with a gross floor area of 1,500 square metres or more

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM, Green Star, MUSIC or other agreed method and a Green Travel Plan.


A non-residential building with gross floor

area between 300 and 1,500 square metres

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM or other agreed method.

An extension to a non-residential building

adding between 300 and 1,500 square metres of additional gross floor area

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM or other agreed method.

A non-residential building with a gross floor

area of more than 1,500 square metres

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM, Green Star, MUSIC or other agreed methods and a Green Travel Plan.

An extension to a non-residential building

adding 1,500 square metres of additional gross floor area.

A Sustainable Design Assessment,

including an assessment using BESS, STORM, Green Star, MUSIC or other agreed methods and a Green Travel Plan.

Mixed-use development

Apply residential and non-residential

requirements as above based on land use/gross floor areas.

Whilst Council encourages the incorporation of sustainable design initiatives in all size and scale developments, the policy and related requirements only apply to those size/scale developments set out in the table.

Where the policy applies, a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) must be submitted.

What is an SDA?

An SDA is a sustainability assessment of a proposed development undertaken at the planning stage. 

Generally, an SDA  can be prepared by the permit applicant (using the above online tools). The more complex the proposal however, the more involved the assessment must be. 

Qualified professionals (such as an ESD Consultant) should be engaged to assist with more complex assessments.

The SDA supports the planning application by demonstrating how the proposal responds to 10 key sustainable building categories, as listed below.

By clicking on a category title you will be redirected to CASBE’s related fact sheet.

1.0 - Indoor Environmental Quality

Objective: To achieve healthy indoor environmental quality for the well-being of building occupants.

Examples of design initiatives:
- Maximise daylight access;
- Thermal comfort; and
- Natural ventilation.

1.2 - Daylight

Objective: To increase occupant comfort and well-being with reduced energy demand.

Examples of design initiatives:
- Maximise Orientation;
- Optimise window size and location; and
- Glazing selection.

1.2 - Natural Ventilation

Objective: Providing fresh air and passive cooling to increase occupant comfort, health and wellbeing while reducing energy demand.

Examples of design initiatives:
- Number & location of windows;
- Size and depth of internal space; and
- Favour natural crossflow and passive ventilation.

2.0 - Energy Efficiency

Objectives: To ensure efficient use of energy; To reduce total operating greenhouse gas emissions; and To reduce peak energy demand.

Examples of design initiatives:
- Building fabric above the minimum Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements;
- Renewable energy generation (and storage); and
- Efficient heating and cooling services.

2.1 - External Shading

Examples of design initiatives:
- Effective shading devices;
- Adjustable devices for east and west aspects;
- Fixed devices to 45% rule for north aspects.

2.2 - Building Envelope Performance

Objectives: Increasing occupancy comfort, health and well-being while reducing energy demand and increasing your building’s value and construction standard.

Examples of design initiatives:
- Thermally efficient walls, windows, doors, floor and roof;
- Best performing Glazing & Framing;
- Airtight and thermally bridged; and
- Acoustic / noise reducing.

2.3 - Zero Carbon Development

Objectives: To ensure that new buildings and significant alterations and additions are planned and designed in a manner which incorporate Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) principles, mitigates and adapts to climate change, protects the natural environment, reduces resource consumption and supports the health and wellbeing of future occupants.

Examples of design initiatives:
- Renewable Energy;
- All-electric (No gas) & energy efficient appliances; and 
- Low-zero carbon materials & waste minimisation.

3.0 - Water Efficiency

Objectives: To ensure the efficient use of water; To reduce total operating potable water use; and To encourage the appropriate use of alternative water sources.

Examples of design initiatives:
- Use of efficient fixtures and fittings;
- Avoid use of mains water for irrigation; and
- Re-use water/implement greywater systems

4.0 - Stormwater Management

Objectives: To reduce the impact of stormwater run-off; To improve the water quality of stormwater run-off; To achieve best practice stormwater quality outcomes; and To incorporate the use of water sensitive urban design, including rainwater re-use.

Examples of initiatives:
- Minimise watercourse pollution;
- Maximise stormwater capture (including by using rainwater tanks); and
- Maximise on-site rainwater re-use, including in the service of toilets and to irrigate landscaped areas

4.1 - Site Permeability

Objectives: To minimise stormwater run-off by permitting rainwater to be absorbed into the soil. A lack of permeability increases flooding in urban areas during storm events affecting infrastructure and buildings.

Examples of initiatives:
- Maximise natural ground surfaces;
- Permeable surfaces below and/or around paving or decking;
- Permeable paving.

5.0 - Building Materials

Objective: To minimise environmental impacts by encouraging the use of materials with a favourable lifecycle assessment

Examples of initiatives:
- Use materials with low embodied energy;
- Use materials with recycled content; and
- Consider the future recyclability of materials

6.0 - Transport

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

Examples of initiatives:
- The provision of convenient and secure bicycle storage;
- The provisions of shower and associated facilities within work places; and
- Green Travel Plans for building users and their visitors

6.1 - Electric Vehicles

Objectives: Electric vehicle integration in new developments. Reduction in emissions and costs.

Examples of initiatives:
- Provision of charging infrastructure;
- In apartments and commercial developments; and
- Increase the number of public/community charging stations;
- Transition to renewable energy powered EV’s.

7.0 - Waste Management

Objective: To ensure waste avoidance reuse and recycling during the construction and operational stages of development.

Examples of initiatives:
- Adoption of demolition and construction material recycling target;
- Provision of construction Waste Management Plan (WMP); and
- Provision of operational WMP

8.0 - Urban Ecology

Objectives: To protect and enhance biodiversity; To provide natural habitats and minimise the urban heat island effect. To encourage the retention of significant trees and the planting of indigenous vegetation.

Examples of initiatives:
- Maintaining and/or enhancing the biodiversity values of a site;
- Encouraging new biodiversity areas; and
- Incorporating resident amenity spaces

8.1 - Green Roofs, Walls and Facades

Objectives: To cool a building and surrounds; to help reduce stormwater runoff; and to improve well-being and increase biodiversity.

Examples of initiatives:
- Green roofs are raised vegetation beds;
- Green facades to grow plants up and across a building; and
- Green walls are vertical gardens.

9.0 - Innovation

Objective: To encourage innovative technology, design and processes in all development so as to positively influence the sustainability of buildings.

Examples of initiatives:
- Significant enhancements to best practice sustainable design standards;
- Introduction of new technologies; and
- Passive design

10.0 - Construction and Building Management

Objective: To encourage a holistic and integrated design and construction process and ongoing high performance of buildings

Examples of initiatives:
- Circulation of Building User Guide explaining to occupants the ESD initiatives of the building;
- Preparation of operational Environmental Management Plans (EMPs); and
- Ensuring all contractors have valid environmental management accreditation

ESD tools 

A range of online ESD tools exist to assist applicants to measure their proposal against the 10 key sustainable building categories.

On the basis Council’s approach is informed by Sustainable Design fact sheets, the BESS online tool is preferred.

Benchmarks allow proposals and/or completed buildings to compare their performance against similar typologies. In most cases, online tools provide instant and reliable feedback with regards to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, potable water savings, treatment of stormwater, embodied energy emissions, daylight and ventilation.

Importantly, in addition to preferred tools, the policy also allows consideration to be given to other agreed methods. This might include other recognised assessment tools, such as:

‘Other agreed methods’ might also include site specific initiatives not otherwise included within the scope of these tools. 

Should you wish to consider initiatives not captured by on-line tools or which might be outside the scope of the 10 key sustainable building categories, please discuss with Council’s ESD Officer to understand if your proposed initiative(s) may be appropriate . 

In accordance with the ‘Innovation’ key building category, initiatives which improve upon existing best practices are encouraged.

Which tool should I use?

The City of Ballarat encourages the use of the tools set out in its ESD policy. This includes BESS, STORM, Green Star and MUSIC.
Tables 2 and 3 below set out how to best apply each tool.

Table 2: Applicability of tools (source: SDAPP Explained, CASBE)
Table 2: Applicability of tools (source: SDAPP Explained, CASBE)
Table 3: The matters each tool considers (source: SDAPP Explained, CASBE)
Table 3: The matters each tool considers (source: SDAPP Explained, CASBE)

The following summaries further describe the applicability, pros and cons of each tool.

In addition to these tools, the following tools may again also be used:

Where can I learn more?

To learn more about each assessment tool please go to: