Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS)

The Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) is an independent alliance of councils in Victoria, operating under the auspices of the Municipal Association of Victoria. It aims to apply environmentally sustainable design (ESD) principles to the built environment through the statutory planning system. This coordinated program of formal and consistent measures is called the Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) framework.

SDAPP framework is intended to facilitate environmental performance outcomes that are above the minimum requirements under building regulations, principally the Building Code of Australia (Victoria), with care taken to ensure no inconsistencies with these regulations. The ESD Local Policy formalises the SDAPP Framework. The policies are identical in each Council except for minor differences in the size and scale of development which triggers the policy.

Currently, seventeen CASBE Councils (Banyule, Brimbank, Darebin, Greater Bendigo, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Kingston, Knox, Manningham, Monash, Moreland, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse, Whittlesea, Wyndham and Yarra) have a specific ESD policy in their Local Planning Policy Framework. Other Councils are also seeking this policy.

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) is the recommended tool under the SDAPP framework. It is directed and managed by BESS Governance Board, which is a sub-committee of CASBE. BESS assists building designers and practitioners in demonstrating that they meet sustainability requirements as part of planning permit applications. It evaluates the following areas of class 1 (dwelling) and class 2 (apartments and non-residential) buildings against set benchmarks:

  • Energy and water efficiency;

  • Thermal Comfort; and

  • Overall environmental sustainability performance.

In many Victorian councils, planning permit applicants are asked to submit information about how their proposed development addresses sustainability, either as a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA, for small scale developments) or Sustainability Management Plan (SMP, for large scale developments). While building designers and practitioners may use any tool of their choice (e.g. STEPS or sustainable design scorecard (SDS)) to complete an ESD assessment for a planning permit application, it is recommended that all new applications use BESS.

To use the BESS tool the following information is required:

  • Town planning drawings, elevations, section drawings, materials palette;

  • Knowledge of the primary construction materials;

  • Thermal performance modelling (e.g. FirstRate);

  • Understanding of the building context (built form surrounding the site);

  • Anticipated minimum energy efficiency rating of significant appliances for heating, cooling and hot water (energy labelling);

  • Anticipated minimum water efficiency rating of taps, toilets and fittings (WELS ratings);

  • On-site renewable energy devices and rainwater tank details (if applicable); and

  • A STORM or MUSIC rating.

BESS assesses projects against a benchmark in nine environmental categories, including:

  • Management;

  • Energy;

  • Indoor Environment Quality;

  • Water;

  • Stormwater;

  • Urban Ecology;

  • Transport;

  • Waste;

  • Innovation.

The final BESS overall score is determined by the category scores, factoring in the weighting of each category.

  • ‘Best practice’ is defined within BESS as an overall score of 50% or above;

  • ‘Excellence’ is defined within BESS as an overall score of 70% or above.

In addition to the overall scoring, there are four mandatory categories with minimum pass rates:

  • Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ);

  • Energy;

  • Water;

  • Stormwater.




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