What you need to know

Sustainable development

There are lots of things that need to be considered when planning a development.

Did you know there is also lots you can do to make sure your development is environmentally sustainable?

Check out our information on Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) which considers stormwater management at the planning stage for new developments. We also have a whole list of tools and resources to help you plan your next development.

Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP)

Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) considers environmentally sustainable design at the planning stage for new developments, minimising the environmental impacts and costs to residents associated with poor housing design.

Clause 15.02-1L of the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme outlines the requirements of a Sustainable Design Assessment, which is a condition for all new developments classed as either medium scale, or large scale.

Small scale developers are encouraged to demonstrate environmental compliance standards, however this is not a requirement of the small scale permit application.

Sustainable Design Assessment (SDA) for medium scale developments

A medium-scale development is classed as:

Development of 3 to 9 dwellings Development with a 100m2 to 10,000m2 gross floor area (GFA)
Alternations and additions between 100m2 to 10,000m2

To prepare a SDA project developers can use the new online calculator Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) to demonstrate that the project meets minimum environmental compliance standards.

BESS replaces earlier tools STEPS and SDS. Planning applicants can use BESS to assess any size and type of building, including mixed use developments.

We are a paid subscriber to BESS, so planning applicants in our municipality can utilise it without charge. BESS can streamline your planning permit process.

What to include with your Permit Application:

  • a printed BESS report;
  • all relevant initiatives clearly annotated on architectural drawings.

Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) for large scale developments

A large-scale development is classed as:

Development of 10+ dwellings Development with a gross floor area (GFA) of more than 10,000m2
Alternations and additions greater than 10,000m2

An SMP addresses the key sustainable design criteria in Clause 15.02-1L of the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme and demonstrates that an holistic environmentally sustainable development review has been undertaken during a project's early design stages.

What to provide within a Sustainability Management Plan:

  • a detailed assessment of the development and relevant sustainability targets or performance standards. This may be done by using a combination of tools such as BESS, Green Star, MUSIC and STORM.
  • achievable environmental performance outcomes in accordance with the objectives of Clause 15.02-1L
  • evidence that the proposed building has the design potential to achieve the relevant environmental performance outcomes stated, having regard to the site’s opportunities and constraints.
  • documented evidence showing how the performance outcomes will be achieved, including identification of the different areas of responsibility, and a schedule of ongoing management, maintenance and monitoring over the life of the building.

The expectations from a Sustainability Management Plan are greater than a Sustainable Design Assessment. Therefore a BESS report alone will not satisfy the requirements under Clause 15.02-1L of the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme.

Preparation of a Sustainability Management Plan will generally require the engagement of a sustainability consultant.

Water Sensitive Urban Design

Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) considers stormwater management at the planning stage for new developments, to improve stormwater quality, and water reuse.
Our Planning Clause 19.03-3L outlines the requirements of local planning permit applications for new developments.

WSUD compliance is required when you are developing:

  • new buildings and works
  • extensions to existing buildings which are 50m2 in floor area or greater
  • subdivision in a commercial zone

How you can achieve WSUD compliance

There are two pathways available to meet your development’s WSUD requirements:

A) achieve 100 per cent stormwater treatment compliance on-site

  • most common used pathway to achieve WSUD compliance
  • on-site compliance is established via stormwater tools.


B) achieve a minimum of 80 per cent stormwater treatment compliance on-site, then make a financial contribution to Council through the WSUD Developer Voluntary Contribution Scheme (VCS) for the remaining (up to) 20 per cent.

  • this is a voluntary option available to planning applicants and prerequisites apply.
  • on-site compliance of the minimum 80 per cent is established via stormwater tools.
  • the remaining (up to) 20 per cent is a financial contribution to Council at the contribution rate of $55 per square metre of developed ‘untreated impervious area’.
  • Benefits of this scheme may include:
    • simplification of the WSUD design and reduction of the types of treatment options used across the development.
      For example, some residential developments may only require the toilets, and possibly the laundry, be connected to a rainwater tank to meet the minimum compliance avoiding the need to use raingardens or permeable paving.
    • Simplification of the approval process. For example, if a rainwater tank is the only WSUD treatment measure proposed further construction details are not required to be submitted as is required for raingardens, buffer strips and permeable paving.
    • Cost effective and efficient stormwater management for the development.

For further detailed information on the VCS please refer to the following documents:

Guidelines for planning applicants - WSUD Voluntary Contribution Scheme (pdf, 868KB)

WSUD Voluntary Contribution Purchase Agreement (pdf, 220KB)

Information Session for Developers – Presentation (pdf, 1.94MB)

Please note: applicants with a current planning permit who want to opt in to the WSUD VCS can do so with a 50 per cent reduction of the prescribed application fee. This discount is only for the component relating to the amendment of a planning permit when specifically addressing the use of the WSUD VCS. This is as per the decision made by Council at their meeting on 24 June 2021.

How the money will be spent

Financial contributions collected through the Scheme will be used to fund large scale stormwater quality treatment projects. These projects will improve the quality of water entering our local waterways and Port Phillip Bay, and may also be used to irrigate public open space.

These contributions will be subject to the strict financial reporting processes which are already in place.

What to include in your application

Regardless of which pathway you select to achieve WSUD compliance, all applications must include the following four elements:

1.     Drawings including a Site Layout Plan and other relevant drawings such as a roof plan, showing the location of all WSUD treatment measures and associated information including:

  • location and type of all paved and sealed areas (notated as to porous/permeable or not)
  • rainwater tank size/capacity, roof catchment area discharging into rainwater tank, and number of toilets rainwater tank is connected to
  • cross-sections and specifications of raingarden/s and buffer strips. Note that because of Moonee Valley’s highly reactive clay soils, all raingardens and buffer strips need to be fully lined with an impervious liner and have their overflow pipe and aggie drain (agricultural pipe) connected to the stormwater system/Legal Point of Discharge. WSUD treatment measures such as infiltration sand, infiltration sandy loam, swales, unlined buffer strips and unlined raingardens are not suitable for the clay soils in the Moonee Valley area
  • details of any other integrated WSUD features

2.     A comprehensive WSUD report that includes:

3.     A WSUD Site Management Plan (WSUD SMP) detailing how you will manage the site through construction stating how you will prevent litter, sediments and pollution from entering the stormwater system. This can be integrated into your broader SMP statement. Take a look at a Sample SMP in the Keeping Our Stormwater Clean: A Builder’s Guide (pdf, 881KB) by Melbourne Water and the EPA Victoria.

4.     A WSUD Management Program with methods of operational and maintenance management of your proposed WSUD features, ie inspections and cleaning regimes.

What WSUD features can you incorporate into your development?

Rainwater tanks

Rainwater tanks collect run-off from roof areas and can provide a supplementary source of non-potable water in urban areas.

By storing rainfall, tanks can reduce peak flow rates to the stormwater system. Tanks also provide some treatment through settlement of suspended soils.

They can be used where drinking water quality is not needed, like watering gardens and flushing toilets, and a relatively small tank can be used for this purpose domestically.

A rainwater tank is one of the most appropriate WSUD elements for residential developments to meet the stormwater management requirements.

If you are considering installing a rainwater tank as part of your planning application, see the materials and installation guide.

Buffer strips

Buffer strips are vegetated areas (typically grass or reeds/sedges) through which stormwater can evenly flow.

They take water from impervious surfaces in an evenly distributed manner (i.e not a single stream, which could cause erosion) and filter sediments and coarse pollutants contained from the runoff.

The low hydraulic loading over the vegetation allows flows to filter through the vegetation and pollutants to settle out. They also provide a detention role to slow flows down, as well as a free source of ‘passive irrigation’.

They can also be used to filter runoff from other areas, but require flows to be distributed at the entry.

Maintenance is required on buffer strips to ensure that vegetation is healthy and has good coverage over the site.

Note that because of Moonee Valley’s highly reactive clay soils, all buffer strips need to be fully lined with an impervious liner and have their aggie drain (agricultural pipe) connected to the stormwater system/Legal Point of Discharge.

If you are considering installing a buffer strip as part of your planning application, a cross section of a generic buffer strip is available here as a guide.

Porous paving

In urban environments, paved surfaces such as roads, driveways and courtyards cover a significant area.

These ‘impervious’ surfaces do not allow rainfall to soak through them to the underlying soil and as a result contribute to larger amounts of stormwater entering into our streams than would otherwise naturally occur. These stormwater flows carry with them pollution that has been washed off from roads, pavements and roofs.

The rapid pace that stormwater is delivered to the stream contributes to bank erosion and habitat scouring.

To protect our streams from this occurring, we need to reduce the amount of ‘impervious’ surfaces in our urban areas so that less water and pollutants are washed off and delivered quickly to the stream.

One way to do this is to install porous pavements instead of traditional concrete pavements in our backyards and driveways. Porous pavements reduce the amount of runoff by allowing water to soak through the surface and into the underlying soil.

If you are considering installing a porous/permeable paving as part of your planning application, see the materials and installation guide.


Raingardens, also called bioretention systems, are vegetated filters that slow down stormwater and filter it as it flows downward through the soil profile.

They provide high levels of stormwater treatment in a relatively small footprint and, as they resemble a normal garden bed, also offer landscaping benefits.

They provide efficient treatment of stormwater through fine filtration, extended detention, and biological uptake. They effectively remove nitrogen and other soluble or fine particulate contaminants and also provide flow retardation.

Bioretention systems can be designed in almost any shape or size.

Note that because of Moonee Valley’s highly reactive clay soils, all raingardens need to be fully lined with an impervious liner and have their overflow pipe and aggie drain (agricultural pipe) connected to the stormwater system/Legal Point of Discharge.

Raingardens must be located a minimum of 300mm away from neighbouring buildings.

If you are considering installing a raingarden as part of your planning application, materials and installation guides can be found here for in-ground, and planter box styles.

Environmentally Sustainable Development toolkit

We have compiled a list of tools and resources to assist residents and professionals to achieve environmentally sustainable best practice in Moonee Valley.

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard

Build Environment Sustainability Storecard (BESS) is an online calculator with the capability to demonstrate how your project meets minimum environmental compliance standards.

BESS replaces earlier tools STEPS and SDS. Planning applicants can use BESS to assess any size and type of building, including mixed-use developments. We are a paid subscriber, so planning applicants in Moonee Valley can use it without charge.

As BESS can streamline your planning permit process, guidance and training on the tool are also available. Find out more.


MUSIC can model a wide range of treatment devices to identify the best way to capture and reuse stormwater runoff, remove its contaminants, and reduce runoff frequency.

With MUSIC you can evaluate these treatment devices to achieve Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) and integrated water management capability goals.

You can apply MUSIC at a range of catchment scales. By using it to compare alternative designs you can confidently decide on those that give the best outcomes - based on cost as well as hydrology and receiving-water quality.

Your Home Technical Manual

Your Home is a comprehensive guide to the design principles and features that add value to your home and reduce its environmental impact.

Your Home was written to make the process of creating sustainable homes and renovations easier for a range of different groups. Its content and design were informed by research with homeowners, architects, designers and builders to find out what information they needed most and how they wanted it presented.

Sun calculator

SunCalc is an online app that shows sun movement and sunlight phases during any given day and hour at any location you type in.

Users can see sun positions at sunrise, a specified time and sunset, which is useful when considering shading and passive solar access at specific times of the year, along with a number of other uses.


The Tankulator is an online rain harvesting calculator that can help you plan for a new rainwater tank or improve the performance of an existing tank.

The Tankulator has been developed by the Alternative Technology Association, Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation promoting sustainable solutions for the home.


The STORM tool can be used to assess whether best practice water quality objectives have been achieved for your site.

Results of STORM assessments can be submitted to council along with the development application to demonstrate compliance with objectives.

Windows Efficiency Rankings

The Window Energy Rating Scheme (WERS) enables windows to be rated and labelled for their annual energy impact on a whole house, in any climate of Australia. WERS is managed by the Australian Window Association (AWA). WERS is independent of any one manufacturer and acts as a fair, rigorous and credible system for testing performance claims.

WERS-rated windows must meet all relevant Australian standards. To realise their full potential, WERS ratings are designed to 'plug in' to NatHERS, Australia's Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme accredited software.

A Guide to Green Roofs, Walls and Facades, in Melbourne and Victoria

The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne project investigates the potential to transform Melbourne’s roofs, walls and facades into vegetated, leafy habitats. The Guide was the winner of the 2015 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

A guide was developed for the design, construction and maintenance of green roofs, walls and facades in Melbourne and Victoria. Find out more on the Growing Green Guide for Melbourne Project website.

Sustainability and heritage case studies

Many people in Moonee Valley are looking to extend or renovate their heritage homes. Heritage Victoria is an excellent resource with a number of case studies incorporating sustainability and heritage for both small and large developments.

For information regarding the installation of solar panels in a Heritage Overlay area, please visit the solar panels and heritage requirements page.

External shading - references for designing appropriate external shading

Windows are a vital part of any home – they allow natural light into the home and provide views and fresh air. Well-planned and protected windows improve comfort year-round and reduce the need for heating in winter and cooling in summer.

External shading can block up to 80% of summer heat gain through windows. There are various ways to achieve this by using external fixed or adjustable shading.  The resources noted below provide guidance on how to achieve effective external window shading.

  • ENERGY SMART HOUSING MANUAL, by Sustainability Victoria, “Section 04 / Windows”
  • YOUR HOME, by Australian Government, chapter on “Shading”:
  • SDAPP fact sheet suite, “2.1 Sunshading” – available under Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning process (SDAPP) fact sheets listed at end of this web page.

NCC, 2016, Vol 2, Class 1 & 10 bldgs
Energy Efficiency
NCC 2016 Building Code of Australia - Volume Two Page 441-2 Shading

Where shading is required to comply with, it must—

(a) be provided by an external permanent projection, such as a verandah, balcony, fixed canopy, eaves, shading hood or carport, which

(i) extends horizontally on both sides of the glazing for a distance not less than the projection distance P in Figure; or

(ii) provide the equivalent shading to (i) with a reveal or the like; or

(b) be provided by an external shading device, such as a shutter, blind, vertical or horizontal building screen with blades, battens or slats, which—

(i) is capable of restricting at least 80% of the summer solar radiation; and

(ii) if adjustable, is readily operated either manually, mechanically or electronically by the building occupants.

Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS)

WELS requires certain products to be registered and labelled with their water efficiency scale in accordance with the standard set under the national Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005. (waterrating.gov.au, 2013). The WELS rating is not set by the supplier or the manufacturer of the particular product but rather is overseen by a government regulator.

The more WELS Stars a product has, the less water it will consume and the more money it will save.

An average water-consuming appliance will rank around 2.5 to 3 stars.

Any appliance ranking above this level will begin to have a sufficient impact on water savings.

Anything unranked or below these rankings may be water-thirsty!

For further information refer to the government web site:

WATER RATING, Australian Government (including - WELS)

​​​The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme is designed to help choose more water-efficient products (plumbing products & whitegoods) for the home or business.

Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) fact sheets

The following suite of sustainable design fact sheets outline the 10 Key Sustainable Building Categories to support the SDAPP program. They provide detailed advice on sustainable building design at the planning permit application stage, which is useful whether you are working on a small renovation or a large development.

They were developed by Inner Melbourne Action Plan (IMAP) consisting of Port Phillip, Stonnington, Melbourne, Yarra and Maribyrnong councils.

If you are interested in learning about sustainable design, two key IMAP fact sheets can assist, SDAPP Explained and ESD Tools.