New Sustainable Building Assessment Tool for NSW Councils

Lucy Carew-Reid

NSW councils are now able to use the Sustainable Design Scorecard to assess council-owned and commercial buildings. This free tool – aligned with Green Star and NABERS – was designed with local government buildings in mind. It allows councils to easily set building performance standards and contains NSW reference tools to help designers produce sustainable buildings.

This tool fills a gap in NSW council building management systems by catering for small to medium sized commercial facilities which form the major part of local government building stock. 

The Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS) is intended to assess and quantify the environmental performance of non-residential developments throughout Australia. It was first created in 1999 by a group of Victorian councils (Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment) and adapted for NSW use in 2013 by Penrith City Council.

This self-assessment tool is free, is aligned to NABERS and Green Star and is available for anyone to use.

When to use it

Most councils use the Sustainable Design Scorecard to assess the design of new developments and major refurbishments that don’t warrant a more complex evaluation. 

Other councils use SDS to benchmark existing buildings. They generally have a supporting policy or guideline that outlines what kind of sustainable design score buildings need to achieve.

How it works

The tool is extremely easy to use, though it will require some intrinsic knowledge of sustainable building elements.

There are white spaces, check boxes and drop-down boxes to fill in. The Scorecard then automatically calculates a score for each Environmental Category based on the Sustainable Design Commitments selected. Links to NSW-related tools and regulations are embedded in the excel to help designers achieve better scores. See image below for an example SDS score output.

Councils use a very simple process: they give the designers the SDS tool and tell them they must achieve a certain score. Council then assess their design to make sure they have complied with a required score. They then communicate if and how they can improve their score.

Ironbark regularly train councils on how to use SDS to assess designs. We also assist with internal referrals to assess designs and specifications on councils’ behalf. 

To use this tool in regions other than Victorian and New South Wales some adjustments to the point allocations are recommended. For example in tropical areas higher priority for cooling and lower for heating is required. Contact Lucy Carew-Reid to discuss further on 1300 288 262 or