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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Mureithi

Sustainable Design in the Planning Process (SDAPP)

In this post we talk about Sustainable Design in the Planning Process (SDAPP) — what it is and why it matters.


The backstory:

In Victoria, sustainability in the built environment is championed by a group of City Councils jointly named CASBE (Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment). And over the years, CASBE has created tools, policies and  frameworks that encourage the planning, design, and construction of sustainable buildings.

Then these initiatives are embraced gradually by other municipalities within the state.

Here are the two primary ones that apply to most small to medium developments:

  • SDAPP - Sustainable Development in the Planning Process. (A framework embedded into Victorian Planning Provisions)

  • BESS - Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard—sits under the SDAPP framework. (A sustainability rating tool that assists in project teams see how their projects perform)

Think of SDAPP as the umbrella that houses the BESS and other planning related sustainability tools. And ESD is simply the process that makes it all come to life.

And the desired outcome here is to nudge new and future projects toward sustainable and comfortable developments. Both are implemented at the planning stage—and provide a means to assess, benchmark and review 

Why it matters:

The planning phase is critical. Because it is often in the the early stages in the construction process.

  • Which means that design changes are easier to make at this stage.

  • So when we assess the design at this point we have a high impact on the final outcome.

On the other hand, it’s often too costly or late to alter the design as the project speeds up to construction stage.

So what is SDAPP?

As defined by CASBE:

The SDAPP programs refers to the inclusion of the key environmental performance considerations into the planning permit approvals process. And the goal is to achieve more sustainable building outcomes for the long-term benefit of the wider community.

Here’s what the SDAPP framework provides:

  • A guide to achieving more sustainable building outcomes

  • A practical approach to assessing sustainable development matters during the planning permit application process

  • A consistent inclusion of key environmental performance standards into the planning permit approvals process

How it works:

When applying for a planning permit in Victoria, most Councils encourage you to consider weaving ESD into new projects. This includes looking at 10 Key Sustainable Building Categories within their design—listed below.

City councils will then request some applications (based on size) to address this formally. And this applies to both residential and non-residential developments.

Here is a quick look at these key sustainable building categories:

You can prepare the following reports to show how your new project addresses these sustainable building categories:

  • Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) report—for small developments

  • Sustainable Management Plan (SMP) report—for medium to large developments

What’s the difference?

The level of detail. Whereby, an SMP is more detailed than a SDA since it is used for large residential and non-residential developments.

And the key trigger for the SMP report is the size of your project:

  • Residential (houses and apartments): 10 or more dwellings

  • Non-residential (offices, retail, industrial etc): 1000+sqm Gross Floor Area (GFA)

  • Developments over four storeys

Here’s how you pick which one suits your project:

Go deeper: Want to explore SDAPP further? You can explore the CASBE website, the BESS tool, and the SDAPP factsheets.

Where to from here: If you have an upcoming project that needs an ESD assessment or report, contact us today.

We’d love to hear from you and assist you navigate the process.


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