City of Port Phillip Mayor Amanda Stevens.

28 August 2013 — According to City of Port Phillip mayor Amanda Stevens, television shows like The Block “really highlight that people don’t need to sacrifice comfort nor aesthetics in order to be ecofriendly”.

The thinking has backed the council’s updated Sustainable Design Strategy which has the aim to voluntarily encourage planning permit applicants to demonstrate how they intend to build environmentally sustainable buildings that are above the minimum regulatory standards contained in the Building Code of Australia.

“The benefits are environmental and financial as families and businesses who embrace sustainable design features find that they save money on water, gas and electricity,” Ms Stevens said.

The council is also proposing to include an Environmentally Efficient Design Local Planning Policy into the Port Phillip Planning Scheme. It has requested the Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy to appoint an independent planning panel to consider the submissions received by council on the proposed amendment.

The policy would set a planning requirement that development proposals address the principles of environmentally sustainable development, and satisfy objectives dealing with energy efficiency, water resources, indoor environment quality, stormwater management, transport, waste management, innovation and urban ecology.

Ms Stevens said developers and builders were already embracing sustainable design features at the planning stage.

“Currently 65 per cent of developers and builders are conforming to Port Phillip’s voluntary sustainable design standards, a significant improvement from just 10 per cent a decade ago,” she said.

The strategy paper says that historically, the majority of Victorian development of private building stock has occurred without consideration of the complex relationships between the built environment and ecological systems.

“Building performance has been measured almost exclusively by minimum building code requirements, to the point where those are often perceived as the only target to aim for.

“Growing awareness of environmental pressures in the past two decades has led to a widespread recognition of the importance of reducing the ecological impact of the built environment. Going beyond minimum requirements and focusing instead on best practice performance promotes design innovation and can be accomplished using existing technologies and economies of scale, while respecting heritage values.

“It is the view of this council that all tiers of government have a responsibility to address the environmental impacts of the built environment. Given its inner city locale, opportunities for renewal and growing housing demand, the City of Port Phillip is in a unique position to continue to provide leadership on the issue of sustainable design to its community, as well as to other Victorian Councils.

“The purpose of this revised Sustainable Design Strategy  is to support Council‘s Sustainable Design Policy (2013) by providing a framework for achieving sustainable design outcomes within the municipality. This framework addresses specifically:

  • The sustainable development of the municipality’s built environment.
  • The promotion of sustainability in the built environment to City of Port Phillip residents, to other relevant government bodies and to the design and construction industry.
  • Council’s own new and major refurbishment building works.

“The vision is to create a more sustainable urban environment, comprised of architecture, landscapes, transport networks and infrastructure that are low carbon, water sensitive and resource efficient in both construction and operation.”

The City of Port Phillip believes the built form has a significant impact on the greater environment and that most current common development practices are not environmentally sustainable in the long term, the paper says.

“For the purposes of this strategy, CoPP defines sustainable design as an approach to building procurement and other urban development which works towards achieving zero net environmental impact.

“This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Eliminating the use of non-renewable resources.
  • Eliminating air, soil and water pollution.
  • Creating healthy and accessible indoor and urban environments.
  • Protecting and enhancing natural eco-systems and cycles.
  • Supporting the conversion of waste into useful resources.
  • Creating a built environment that is resilient, flexible and adaptive to climate change.
  • Supporting decentralised electricity and water systems.
  • Supporting a move towards understanding and implementing ‘positive development’
  • Supporting sustainable modes of travel.

The city also believes that the global scientific consensus is that the climate is changing due to human-induced carbon emissions.

This means we will have to design and build for increasingly uncertain and unpredictable future climate impacts on where and how we live.

For the City of Port Phillip, projected climate impacts such as increased flooding, hotter summers and less water availability will have a significant impact on our existing neighbourhoods and precincts, and the way buildings are designed, built and used in the future.

This does, and will continue, to challenge and revise current and emerging legislative, planning and land use regulations and standards for some time to come.

To meet the challenges of a changing climate on our local built environment, the City of Port Phillip is committed to facilitating adaptive design to build local climate resilience.

Adaptive design works with nature to gain climate clever solutions to living well on the coast, with increased flooding and rising temperatures.

To progress a local adaptive design approach, the City of Port Phillip encourages building design strategies such as:

  • Harvesting rainwater for reuse
  • Reducing peak stormwater flows and improving water quality to the Bay through the use of water sensitive urban design
  • Building flood and storm resilient buildings
  • Building for maximum thermal efficiency to maintain year-round indoor comfort
  • Reducing local heat island impacts through climate clever building materials and the use of vegetation.