BESS tool for ESD reports

What is BESS?

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) is a scorecard to assess and prove that a building complies with Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) requirements of a local council. BESS is a tool that was created by the Victorian Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment. This tool is an integrated form of old STEPS and SDS tools what were used for residential and non-residential developments. BESS is a Victorian accredited tool to address sustainability in new building designs and alterations and is equivalent of BASIX in New South Wales. (Click here to view full article on ESD tools).

In the planning permit stage, governing councils in Victoria require applicants to provide evidence of how their designs are environmentally sustainable and meet the council targets/benchmarks. Depending on the scale of the project, evidence of sustainable design must be provided in the framework of ESD management plans (SDA report for small-scale and SMP for large-scale buildings).

Here at Energy Compliance, we offer you our collective experience from past works. We are proud of helping our clients achieve highest scores on their SDA and SMP assessments while considering low-cost options. Contact us or simply ask us a question.

The benefits of BESS

  • BESS is a free online tool to use and practice.
  • It covers almost all Building Class
  • It covers nine categories in a sustainable building design:
    1. Management,
    2. Water,
    3. Energy,
    4. Stormwater,
    5. Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ),
    6. Transport,
    7. Waste,
    8. Urban Ecology and
    9. Innovation
  • It is simple and user-friendly with a straight-forward guide to use.
  • BESS reports are accredited by all Victorian councils as it is a tool solely used for SDA and SMP assessments.


How scoring system works?

BESS scoring simply depends on the degree of sustainable elements and efforts in each of the nine sustainability categories. Each category has its own weight and depending on the degree of sustainability and weighting of each category, the final score is generated within BESS online tool.

Category weighting in the current version of BESS are:

  • Management: 5%
  • Water: 0%
  • Stormwater: 5%
  • Waste: 5%
  • IEQ: 5%
  • Energy: 5%
  • Urban Ecology: 5%
  • Transport: 0%
  • Innovation: 0%

BESS is a benchmark tool where it compares the applicant’s proposed building design with a reference benchmark based on the minimum requirements in NCC.

BESS score in each category is a percentage of improvement compared to a similar benchmark project.

The following categories require mandatory pass scores:

  • Water: minimum score of 50%
  • Stormwater: minimum score of 100%
  • Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ): minimum score of 50%
  • Energy: minimum score of 50%

BESS final overall score as an acceptable outlet would be:

  • Best practice: where proposed building achieves 50% or higher.
  • Excellence: where proposed building achieves 70% or higher.

In summary, BESS report demonstrates how the proposed building performs in each sustainability categories relative to total points available. This report also determines which elements of the report must be reflected in the architectural plans and which document must be uploaded/delivered to BESS as evidence of sustainable design.

How do we deliver BESS report at Energy Compliance?

At Energy Compliance, we encourage developers, builders and architects to consult us for sustainability solutions at the design stage as it is much easier to implement low-cost solutions. For early consultation and assessment, concept plans are sufficient. To finalize the report, we will demand the following:

  • Architectural drawings (including elevations, sections, window and material schedules),
  • Energy compliance approach (For residential: DtS, NatHERS star rating, VURB & for commercial: DtS, JV3 modelling, Green Star or NABERS). We will discuss and recommend you the most cost-effective approach to our clients based on our past experience,
  • Plans to install on-site renewable energy generation systems,
  • Water efficiency rating of domestic water fittings and fixtures,
  • Preferences on Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) & Domestic hot water supply solutions.

After we gather the above, our engineers and energy assessors will prepare the complying report (SDA/SMP report) under council-approved templates considering to:

  • Reduce total energy consumption while considering low-cost insulation and glazing,
  • Achieve best STORM ratings,
  • Offer different proposals for all other sustainability categories (e.g. waste management and transport),
  • Offer innovative energy solutions such as low-cost passive house,
  • Assess feasibility of most cost-effective renewable energy options (if required)


How much does a report cost?

The cost of a typical BESS assessment and a report preparation depends on the building area, complexity of the building, options for feasibility assessment, option for energy efficiency compliance. Obviously, the final cost of a BESS report can be set after concept architectural drawings are provided to assess how complex is the building. Feel free to call us to discuss BESS compliance report for your building development.

Which Victorian councils require BESS report?

As of 2020, 34 out of 79 Victorian councils (43%) require some mandatory assessments and also encourage voluntary efforts to address elements of sustainability in the planning permit process. Among Victorian councils that require these assessments are:

  • Banyule City Council
  • City of Bayside
  • Boroondara City Council
  • Brimbank City Council
  • Cardinia Shore Council
  • Casey City Council
  • Colac Otway Shire Council
  • Darebin City Council
  • City of Greater Geelong
  • Frankston City Council
  • Glen Eira City Council
  • City of Greater Dandenong
  • Hobsons Bay City Council
  • Hume City Council
  • City of Kingston
  • Knox City Council
  • Manningham City Council
  • Maribyrnong City Council
  • Maroondah City Council
  • City of Melbourne
  • City of Monash
  • Moonee Valley City Council
  • Moreland City Council
  • City of Greater Bendigo
  • Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • City of Port Phillip
  • City of Stonnington
  • Surfcoast Shire Council
  • City of Whitehorse
  • City of Whittlesea
  • Wyndham City
  • City of Yarra
  • Yarra Ranges Shire Council