Through the planning and building approvals process, councils can play a role in improving the sustainability of buildings.
Role of local government
Local government plays an important role in sustainability through established leadership, its role as planning authority and its close connection to the community.
Councils can, and are, applying a range of tools from the Victorian Planning Provisions to deliver environmental outcomes.
Councils are increasingly introducing energy and water conservation measures into their own operations, capital works programs, council buildings and services. In addition councils have significant influence over the building sector through planning policy approvals as well as the construction and management of council facilities.
The SDAPP framework
A sustainability assessment framework helps councils to be streamlined and consistent in requesting improved environmental outcomes through the planning process. By implementing the framework and using its tools, councils can achieve more sustainable outcomes for the long-term benefit of their community.
While there are a number of elements that contribute to urban and regional sustainability, such as public transport or biodiversity protection, the metropolitan Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) framework focuses primarily on in energy, potable water and waste.
Councils' statutory authority is recognised in the framework and tools.
The SDAPP framework has been adopted by eight metropolitan councils with alternative or hybrid sustainability assessment frameworks being considered for non-metropolitan councils..
Planning and building continuum
The planning and building continuum encourages sustainability through a voluntary and regulated process.
New sustainability initiatives can be trialled in some or all of a municipality, or for particular types of development. As the initiatives become more accepted, they can become part of the Victorian planning policy framework and eventually be incorporated into the Building Code of Australia as minimum standards.
Buildings and the environment
In Australia buildings account for approximately 22 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 25 per cent of water use.