Building rating schemes and planing assessment tools

Property developers should consider the importance to them of building sustainability ratings schemes as they commission a design for a green roof, wall or facade. For instance:

  • Public buildings can obtain Green Star points for green roofs, and other buildings have an indirect way of achieving points under the category of ‘land use and ecology’, if the installation is designed with native plant species and a focus on ecological value
  • Under the National Australian Built Environment Rating Scheme, green roofs, walls and facades may be able to contribute to ratings in categories of thermal comfort and acoustic comfort
  • In the green building certification program, ‘The Living Building Challenge’, green roofs, walls and facades may be able to contribute to building thermal performance, energy efficiency, and water re-use objectives
  • NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme) looks at the energy efficiency of new residential developments, and green roofs, walls or facades can be designed to improve efficiency.

 

 

The Pixel Building, Queensberry Street, Carlton, created a native grassland green roof to earn points under the Green Star sustainable building rating tool

The Pixel Building, Queensberry Street, Carlton, created a native grassland green roof to earn points under the Green Star sustainable building rating tool

Melbourne Water’s online STORM calculator assesses the effectiveness of ‘water sensitive urban design’ (WSUD) treatment measures on a site. This tool is often encouraged by planning departments of local councils, because Clause 56.07 of the Victorian Planning Provisions requires treatment of stormwater in all new housing developments. Green roofs, walls and facades have the potential to improve STORM ratings because they retain and/or slow entry of run-off into the stormwater system, and green roofs reduce the area of impervious roof surface. Local councils in built-up urban environments are likely to respond more favourably to building proposals that show an understanding of their water flows onto and out of a site and have measures to manage these responsibly.

 

Other rating systems sometimes applied at local council level include the STEPS (Sustainable Tools for Environmental Performance Strategy) tool and the Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS) aimed at residential and non-residential developments, respectively. These tools can be used in the assessment of developments at the planning permit stage as they provide an indication of the environmental performance of a given planning application.

Although these Australian tools and rating schemes do not yet explicitly include green roofs, walls and facades in their range of treatment options or as a stand-alone category for points, knowledge gained from local green roofs, walls and facades will influence their future development. Research will be important to ensure the thermal, biodiversity and stormwater retention benefits of green roofs are quantified and modelled. There are examples of international rating schemes that explicitly rate green roofs, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) – the green building rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council.