Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS): Now Open for Council Subscriptions
The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) was launched last week in Melbourne, representing a massive step forward for sustainability in the built environment and in the planning process.
The tool was developed by the Victorian Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) in collaboration with industry partners. BESS was created to assist designers, builders and developers in demonstrating that they meet sustainability requirements during the planning permit application process for any new developments, including existing building retrofits. The tool analyses areas such as energy and water consumption, waste management and thermal comfort in order to determine how efficient the planned works will be.
BESS replaces two existing tools that have been used by Councils over the last decade: STEPS (Sustainable Tools for Environmental Performance Strategy), which was created by Moreland City Council for residential building assessments, and the Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS), which was created by the City of Port Phillip for non-residential buildings. These tools will remain available for the time being, but will be phased out once BESS becomes fully established.
Under proposed planning amendments put forward by a group of Victorian councils in 2014, it would become compulsory for developers and builders to submit sustainability details and plans for major developments. This proposed Local Environmentally Efficient Design Planning Policy 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 retrofits and poor design. There are six councils seeking the amendment (Moreland, Banyule, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse and Yarra) but dozens more are watching eagerly and ready to follow.