Environmentally Sustainable Design


Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) ensures development in our City meets appropriate environmental design standards and integrates environmental sustainability into land use planning, new developments and redevelopment of existing infrastructure.

This design can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy, water costs, reduce potable water use, and minimise storm water impacts and urban heat island effect.

What Is Environmentally Sustainable Design?

Sustainable design elements are most effective — and incur the least cost — when they are considered at the earliest stages of a development, from the design stage through to construction and operation. 

The elements include passive design principles like external shading, orientation, cross ventilation, good thermal mass and better insulation in buildings.  

These techniques help to reduce energy consumption, save money and address the effects of climate change while maintaining a more comfortable internal temperature. Incorporating renewable (solar) energy further reduces buildings' environmental impact

Sustainable Design for Monash planning applications

Incorporating sustainable design into new developments (Clause 22.13 Environmentally Sustainable Development) is now a requirement of the Monash Planning Scheme.

The following provides a step-by-step guide on applying ESD principles into your planning application. Please also refer to the local planning policy in the Monash Planning Scheme.

You can also read the Fact Sheet: Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) Explained(PDF, 588KB)

Other related clauses in the Monash Planning Scheme to consider include during an ESD assessment:

Refer to CASBE for case studies and more information on ESD in Victoria.

Planning application process


Consider environmentally sustainable development early in the design planning stages.


Determine what information you need to submit based on the size and type of development.

Small developments

Residential: 1-2 dwellings

  • What to submit? Include sustainable design features in plans and drawings. 
  • Who can prepare the submission? Yourself or an environmentally sustainable design professional.

Supporting tools: Sustainable Building fact sheets, STORM, FirstRate5

Medium developments

Residential: 3-9 new residential dwellings

Non-Residential: 500m2 to 1000m2 of non-residential, or 500m2 to 1000m2 of alterations and additions.

  • What to submit? A Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) that shows best practice in ESD is a mandatory requirement for applications of this type.
  • Who can prepare the submission? Yourself or an ESD professional.

Supporting tools: BESS, STORM, MUSIC, FirstRate5

What is a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)?

An SDA is a simple sustainability assessment of a proposed building at the planning stage that demonstrates best practice in ESD performance. The assessment will support your planning application by showing how you address the 10 key sustainable building categories. The SDAs should also be clear and definitive about sustainability commitments such as - all lighting in dwellings will be energy efficient LED lighting.

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) can be used to undertake a Sustainable Design Assessment. Submit the BESS report with your planning application to satisfy the requirements of your SDA. You need to make sure all environmentally sustainable development initiatives are clearly demonstrated and annotated in your architectural drawings.

Large developments

Residential: 10+ new residential dwellings

Non-Residential: 1000m2 or greater if non-residential, or 1000m2 or greater for alterations and additions. 

  • What to submit? A Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) that shows best practice in ESD is a mandatory requirement of this application type.
  • Who can prepare the submission? An ESD Consultant must prepare this submission.

Example tools: BESS, Green Star, STORM, MUSIC, FirstRate5

What is a Sustainability Management Plan (SMP)?

An SMP is a detailed sustainability assessment of a proposed development at the planning stage which demonstrates best practice in ESD performance. The SMP will support your planning application by showing how the sustainable design standards are addressed.  

To meet Council's requirements, a Sustainability Management Plan needs to be submitted as a separate report with your planning application, in addition to your BESS report. You should make sure that all ESD initiatives addressed are clearly demonstrated and annotated on your architectural drawings. The nature of larger developments provides the opportunity for increased environmental benefits and major resource savings. 


Prepare your submission. Address the 10 key sustainable building categories in the sustainable design standard. Use an online sustainability tool Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS).


Submit your relevant environmentally sustainable development assessment with your planning application. This will not delay the planning application process.


Council will review your planning application and the relevant ESD assessment.


Council will provide feedback. This means we will send you back some ideas, feedback and practical ways to improve the standard of ESD as needed.

Sustainable Building Design Standards

Monash Council, as a member of the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE), has identified 10 key sustainable building categories which need to be considered and addressed. 

Sustainable Design Fact Sheets are available for each category (and related sub-categories) to guide design strategies and best practice standards. They also align with the key elements of the BESS assessment tool.

For medium to large developments, it is recommended to demonstrate best practice in each sustainable building category within your design. 

Fact sheets for 10 sustainable building design categories (and sub-categories):  

1) Indoor environment quality(PDF, 306KB)

* Daylight(PDF, 1MB)

Ventilation(PDF, 1MB)

2) Energy efficiency(PDF, 345KB)

Sun shading(PDF, 675KB)

Building envelope performance(PDF, 1MB)  

Zero Carbon(PDF, 2MB)

3) Water efficiency(PDF, 272KB)

4) Storm water management(PDF, 617KB)  

Site permeability(PDF, 2MB)

5) Building materials(PDF, 314KB)

6) Transport(PDF, 480KB)

Electric Vehicles(PDF, 756KB)

7) Waste management(PDF, 334KB)

8) Urban Ecology(PDF, 589KB)

Green roofs, walls and facades(PDF, 2MB)

9) Innovation(PDF, 257KB)

Melbourne climate(PDF, 571KB)

10) Construction and building management(PDF, 188KB)

Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) Policy - a step closer to being carbon neutral

As part of our commitment to being Zero Net Carbon by 2025, Monash Council has also developed its own Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) Policy for all Council buildings and infrastructure.

Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) Policy(PDF, 1MB)

Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) Policy - Supporting Guidelines(PDF, 2MB)

The policy was endorsed by Council in January 2022 and will be followed for all new buildings and refurbishments.

You can read more about how our Environmental policy brings Monash a step closer to be carbon neutral

For more information or guidance on our all issues relating to ESD you can contact our Sustainable Monash team at sustainability@monash.vic.gov.au