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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Mureithi

Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA)

What is a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) report?

If you're embarking on a small to medium development in Victoria (1-9 new dwellings), a Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) is a crucial step.

This assessment, a brief yet comprehensive sustainability review of your proposed building at the planning phase, is part of the Sustainable Design in the Planning Process (SDAPP) framework, which is integral to most Local Government Planning Schemes in the area.

What is the purpose of an SDA report?

The objective of an SDA is to demonstrate that your project aligns with best practices in Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) performance.

The assessment bolsters your planning application by detailing how your project addresses 10 critical sustainable building categories:

  1. Indoor Environment Quality 

  2. Energy Efficiency

  3. Water Efficiency 

  4. Stormwater Management 

  5. Building Materials 

  6. Urban Ecology 

  7. Innovation 

  8. Construction and building management

  9. Waste

  10. Building Materials

Ensuring that all ESD initiatives are clearly indicated on your architectural drawings is vital. Your Sustainable Design Assessment should be explicit and detailed regarding sustainability commitments, steering clear of ambiguous language.

When is a SDA requested? 

An SDA is typically requested for medium-scale developments, which include one to nine residential units or non-residential developments with a Gross Floor Area (GFA) ranging from 100 to 1000 square meters.

Preparing a Sustainable Design Assessment: What You Need 

Alongside your architectural plans, the following information is generally necessary:

  • BESS report to benchmark your project.

  • STORM rating for stormwater quality.

  • Expected minimum energy efficiency ratings for major appliances (heating, cooling, hot water).

  • Predicted minimum water efficiency for taps and fittings (WELS ratings).

  • Planned light fittings.

  • On-site renewable energy devices, if applicable.

For residential developments, you will also require:

  • A NatHERS report (e.g., FirstRate) or an anticipated minimum standard.

For non-residential developments, the following are needed:

  • Preliminary NCC Section J assessment to show energy efficiency compliance.

  • Daylight assessment.

Note that the level of detail required in an SDA varies with the scale of the project. Typical requirements include:

  • Details on how the development meets minimum sustainable design performance expectations, often using the BESS tool.

  • A written sustainability statement.

  • Proposed sustainability measures.

  • Environmental objectives and Council standards.

The BESS (Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard), along with STORM or MUSIC assessments and other recommended evaluations, are key tools in conducting an SDA.

Important Consideration:

These assessments are generally compliance-driven and fundamental in nature. If you're aiming to meet or surpass the outlined targets, Makao can assist in elevating your project's sustainability profile.

Planning a project soon? Contact us today to initiate a dialogue and explore how we can assist in achieving your sustainability goals.


Got an upcoming project? Reach out today to start a conversation.


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