Environmentally sustainable rating tools

Claims of best practice in Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) and Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) are generally expected to be supported with the use of appropriate rating tools. Applications will be accessed against the ESD and WSUD objectives of the relevant planning policies, and meeting the requirements of any assessment tool is not automatically accepted as best practice.

Some ESD tools assess a broad range of ESD categories, while others have a focus on a single topic, such as stormwater quality, daylight or energy efficiency. Example ESD and WSUD rating tools are listed on the Brimbank Planning Scheme page.

A detailed overview is provided in the SDAPP fact sheet: ESD tools.

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) is an ESD assessment tool suitable for most building types. It assesses nine environmentally sustainable design categories with a minimum pass required in 4 key categories.

Brimbank subscribes to the tool so that is can be used by applicants without charge.

Note that a 50 % 'pass' score is required if BESS is used to support a claim of best practice, however this minimum pass is not automatically accepted as meeting Brimbank’s ESD best practice standards.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) offer a number of different certifications under their Green Star rating tools. The Design & as built rating tool assesses a broad range of environmentally sustainable design categories. If using Green Star to demonstrate best practice:

  • Certification under the tool is sought rather than attempts at non-certified approximation of credits. Reliance on operational commitments to gain a Green Star benchmarked rating will not be accepted
  • ESD reports should list each specific initiative claimed under the relevant ESD category heading, with reference to the relevant Green Star credit
  • Green Star scorecards should be attached in the appendices.

The Stormwater Treatment Objective - Relative Measure tool (STORM) provides simplified assessment of WSUD outcomes which is suitable for small to medium-scale developments.

The tool provides a percentage score, for which 100 per cent represents best practice in stormwater management.

The tool provides a limited palette of stormwater treatment methods. Not all of the treatment methods provided are suitable in Brimbank. Please refer to the Brimbank ESD guidance - Water Sensitive Urban Design (PDF 2.3 MB) for information about appropriate treatment options.

STORM is available for use without charge from Melbourne Water.

The Model for Urban Stormwater Improvement Conceptualisation (MUSIC) tool provides detailed stormwater modelling with a wide range of variables allowing greater flexibility in modelling water sensitive urban design.

The tool rates the performance of four key stormwater indicators which can be used to access best practice. Use of MUSIC is expected to be per the Melbourne Water MUSIC guidelines (See ‘Tool Guidelines’)

Not all of the treatment methods provided are suitable in Brimbank. Please refer to the Brimbank ESD guidance - Water Sensitive Urban Design for information about appropriate treatment options.

Purchase of the MUSIC software and training available from eWater.


The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) rates the thermal performance of dwellings on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 stars indicating little if any heating and cooling will be required to feel comfortable. The minimum NatHERS rating currently required under building regulation is for 6 star rating. In Victoria this is moving to 7 stars in May 2024 as part of the staged implementation of NCC 2022.

Exceeding the minimum NCC thermal performance requirements by at least 10 per cent is considered best practice. See the Energy category for information about expectations for best practice NatHERS ratings as the National Construction Code transitions to a 7 star minimum rating.

There are several individual software tools currently accredited for use under Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme: FirstRate5, BERS Pro, and HERO. See the NatHERS website regarding updates for the NCC 2022 energy efficiency provisions.

There are a number of third party software applications available for modelling daylight levels in buildings. If providing daylight modelling as part of an application, the software will need to be able to provide an output in Daylight Factor. See the BESS IEQ tool notes for guidance on the daylight modelling parameters sought.

The BESS tool provides some daylight modelling within it for assessing daylight outcomes in apartment developments.

Applicants are encouraged to utilise the simple method provided in the Green Star Daylight and Views Hand Calculation Guide to demonstrate best practice daylight levels in non-residential spaces.

Last updated: 6 March 2024 - 9:39am