What is ESD report?

ESD report is proof that your building design complies to Ecologically Sustainable Development principles. You will need ESD report when you are applying for building permit.

First, the ESD report looks into if you are using environmental-friendly building materials for construction.

Second, the ESD report looks into how you preserve energy, water, groundwater and site ecology.

Third, it looks into how you manage the waste generated from your building.

Last, an ESD report looks into how you maintain the comfort and well-being of occupants.

Do I need an ESD report?

Residential buildings

With residential buildings, you don’t need ESD report if you are building a single dwelling.

You need ESD report if you are building 2 to 9 dwellings. This ESD report is called SDA (Sustainable Design Assessment).

You need ESD report if are developing 10 or more dwellings. This ESD report is called SMP (Sustainable Management Plan).

Commercial (Non-residential) buildings

You don’t need ESD report if your commercial (Non-residential) buildings, the building has a gross floor area of less than 100m2.

You need ESD report If you are developing or altering a building with a gross floor area of more than 100m2 and less than 1000m2. This ESD report is called SDA (Sustainable Design Assessment).

You also need ESD report if you are developing or altering a building with a gross floor area of more than 1000m2. This ESD report is called SMP (Sustainable Management Plan).

Note that each council has its requirements for environmental sustainability and above are commonly applied by most councils. For instance, the above information applies to Whittlesea city council in Victoria.

What are the key sustainable building parameters for ESD?

ESD report consists of several aspects that can assist in sustainable construction. Although guidelines of different councils may vary, the core parameters in a sustainable development stay the same. We can categorise these key parameters as below:



  • To encourage practices that enable and support best practice sustainability outcomes throughout the different phases of project design.
  • To encourage sustainability advice from professionals.
  • Accumulation of management experience together with the use of modern tools of building modelling.
  • Typical responses:
  • Engaging ESD professionals to provide sustainability advice.
  • Preliminary building thermal modelling.
  • Creating building user guides to help occupants learn how to preserve energy and such using the features of the building.



  • To reduce building overall energy consumption.
  • To recognise the building’s passive potentials to sustain energy.
  • To reduce the building’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
  • To reduce building peak energy demand through passive measures.

Typical responses:

  • Building to achieve a better thermal performance than NCC provisions (Performance solutions, NatHERS for residential, NABERS or Green Star for non-residential, etc.)
  • Use of external shading devices to restrict solar radiation in summer and to let the sun heat the building in winter.
  • Recommendation of energy-efficient systems.
  • Lesser maximum artificial lighting power density than the NCC provisions.
  • Use of appliances with good ratings.


3-Water resources:


  • To reduce overall water consumption.
  • Use of water-efficient fixtures.
  • Recycle rainwater and run-off water for building use.
  • More water-efficient landscaping.

Typical responses:

  • Installation of water fixtures with high star WELS rating.
  • Use of rainwater tanks for sanitary flushing and irrigation.
  • Treatment of grey water by various approved means.


4- Stormwater management:


  • To reduce the impact of stormwater run-offs.
  • To improve the quality of run-offs into groundwater and rivers.
  • To reuse stormwater and reduce overall domestic water consumption.
  • Typical responses:
  • Use of rainwater tanks for sanitary flushing and irrigation.
  • Use of permeable materials.
  • Installation of rain gardens, ponds and wetlands.


5- Indoor environment quality:


  • To minimize the use of mechanical heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
  • To achieve a healthy indoor environment and wellbeing of occupants.
  • To reduce indoor air pollutants and noise levels.
  • To reduce reliance on artificial lighting.

Typical responses:

  • Increase the access to daylight by altering the position and the size of glazing and shading while ensuring they achieve energy efficiency requirements.
  • Use of external adjustable shading devices.
  • Set window SHGC with respect to its orientation and minimize mechanical heating and cooling.
  • Enable access to natural ventilation to offset mechanical cooling demand.
  • Allow low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paints, sealants, adhesives and carpets.


6- Transport:


  • To encourage the use of walking, cycling and public transport.
  • To minimize personal car dependency.
  • To promote the use of low-emission vehicle technologies and supporting infrastructure.

Typical responses:

  • Provide convenient and secure bike storage facilities.
  • Provide end of trip change facilities for bike users.
  • Provide infrastructure for electric vehicle charging.
  • Describe the site’s proximity and access to public transportation.
  • Reduction in the extent of onsite car parking.


7- Waste management:


  • To avoid, recycle or reuse waste during design, construction and operation stages.
  • To ensure reusability and durability of building materials.
  • To ensure we allocate sufficient space for future change in waste management needs.

Typical responses:

  • Provide allocated space(s) for general waste, recycling and green waste.
  • Operation Waste Management Plan
  • Construction Waste Management Plan

8 – Urban ecology


  • To protect and enhance biodiversity.
  • To provide environmentally sustainable landscapes and natural habitats.
  • To encourage the retention of trees.
  • To encourage the planting of indigenous vegetation.
  • To encourage the provision of space for productive gardens

Typical responses:

  • Allow vegetated areas on site
  • Allow a tab connected to rainwater tank for irrigation
  • Installation of efficient irrigation systems like drip irrigation.
  • Use vegetation to control solar heat gains, glare or ventilation.

9- Materials


  • Selection of low impact materials for construction.
  • To reduce the CO2 impact or embodied energy of building materials.
  • To maximise the responsible sourcing materials.
  • To encourage the use of recycled or reused materials.

Typical responses:

  • Restrict the use of PVC in piping or other building elements.
  • Use of sustainable certified materials.
  • Reuse of Materials and other Recycled Materials.
  • Use of FSC certified timber or recycled timber.
  • Construct in a way that disassembly takes minimum effort.
  • To reduce the use of material that contains high levels of VOC (or other toxic elements).

10- Innovation


  • Implementation of innovative practices to promote sustainability.
  • To encourage innovative technology, design and processes in all development.

Typical responses:

  • Describe how building design exceeds best practice in one or more of the above 9 categories.
  • Design buildings capable of passively maximizing natural ventilation, lighting and energy efficiency.
  • Design buildings responsive to local climate condition that enhances ESD outcomes.


Tools we use for developing an ESD report?

If you are required to have an ESD report, there are tools to measure how ecologically sustainable your design is. As we implement SDAPP framework in the design stage, several tools demonstrate ‘best practice’ recommended by the councils. These tools are:

  • Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS)
  • Sustainable Tools for Environmental Performance Strategy (STEPS)
  • Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS)
  • Green Star
  • Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS)
  • National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS)
  • Stormwater Treatment Objective Relative Measure (STORM)
  • Model for Urban Stormwater Improvement Conceptualisation (MUSIC)

Implementation of the above tools is mainly based on building classification and the key sustainability category. For more information on building classification, click here

What is SDAPP?

SDAPP is an abbreviation for Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process. SDAPP refers to including key environmental performance consideration into planning permit approvals process. In simple words, SDAPP is a practical approach to assess sustainable development matters during the planning permit application process (or rather the inclusion of environmental performance standards into the planning permit approval process).

More facts about ESD:

  • The internationally recognized and long-standing concept of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) rose in Australia more than 30 years ago.
  • According to Australian National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992), ESD is defined as: ‘using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased’.
  • The ESD strategies imposed by the government is deemed to let Australia grow on a more sustainable footing; ranging from a single dwelling to a non-residential or a mixed-use facility.