Environmentally-friendly planning changes developed by six inner Melbourne councils, including the City of Port Phillip, have the double benefit of reducing energy bills for new home and business owners.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne has signed off on environmentally sustainable design (ESD) policies requested by the Cities of Port Phillip, Banyule, Moreland, Stonnington, Whitehorse and Yarra.

Port Phillip Council Mayor Bernadene Voss said the guidelines, now part of each council’s planning scheme, must be considered early in the planning permit application process for both new residential and non-residential buildings.

“We are proud of the results of this six year collaboration which fill a planning policy gap. This is a great example of innovation by local government which can be applied throughout Victoria,” Cr Voss said.

“We appreciate the Minister’s strong support in helping us lay the foundation for future homes and commercial buildings which are cheaper to run and better for the environment.”

Options able to be incorporated into new developments include:

  • Renewable energy systems (such as solar power)
  • Rainwater storage tanks for water re-use, water efficient landscaping, and grey water systems
  • Environmentally friendly building materials and re-use of existing materials and
  • Passive design features (such as cross-flow ventilation).

Cost benefit analysis shows that by investing early in ESD features, big savings can add up,” Cr Voss said.

For a small multi-unit residential development, there could be a return of almost $5 for every $1 invested in ESD. A couple living in a small 90 square metres apartment, for example, could save about $285 per year over 25 years from energy and water savings alone. If they owned the apartment, it would also appreciate in value faster and earn more as a rental.

Cr Voss said Port Phillip had already been an ESD leader by offering a popular voluntary sustainable design assessment planning tool. “These new principles will build on this by providing a statutory basis to facilitate development applications incorporating best practice in environmentally sustainable design.”

One of the tools available to permit applicants is the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard athttp://www.bess.net.au/ which shows how their development meets ESD objectives.

Sustainable design information can also be found by visiting http://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/sustainable-design.htm