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Elevating ESD Targets project

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Council is participating in stage 1 of the Elevating ESD Targets Planning Policy Amendment project, the invitation for which was extended to all Victorian councils. ESD is defined as ’environmentally sustainable development (or design)’. This work is being driven by the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE), which is auspiced by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), and the Cities of Moreland and Yarra.

Find out more about CASBE here -

Project background

The project is the progression of local ESD Policy work that other Victorian councils have been developing over the past decade. It builds on CASBE’s key strategic goal to raise environmental standards in built form and supports the Cities of Moreland and Yarra with achieving zero carbon Planning Schemes. The aim of the project is to deliver revised and elevated ESD targets, including targets for zero carbon development.

Why Council has joined the project

This project presents an excellent opportunity for Council, particularly as it is a group effort by 29 Victorian Councils.

What has informed and supports Council’s participation in this project:

• The Mount Alexander Planning Scheme Review 2019 (adopted) included a recommendation to prepare a local planning policy on ‘Environmental Sustainability’ to address energy, waste, and water efficiency issues.
Community feedback received during consultation for Plan Harcourt emphasised the importance of nature and environmentally sustainable design.

• In December 2019, Council declared a climate emergency recognising that urgent action is needed to address the current and future impacts of climate change on the health, economy and wellbeing of the local community and its environment. In making the declaration, Council recognised that action would need to come from all parts of the community over many years to reduce greenhouse emissions, adapt to the changing environment and manage an increasing number and intensity of emergencies. A key outcome of the Climate Emergency declaration was the development of a Community Zero Net Emissions Plan, which has the goal to reach zero-net emissions for the Mount Alexander Shire community by 2030. An online community forum was created to feed into this plan, bringing together ideas on how to build a collective vision for a carbon reduced future. Key messages received via this forum highlight community members’ keenness for achieving net zero emissions, and how this plan is welcomed. One particular key message identified the following concern:

Council still does not have an Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) policy embedded within its planning scheme. With a growing population comes new development and an ESD policy would enforce better building standards for residential developments of a particular size, and non-residential developments which meet a specific threshold.

The Elevating ESD Targets project will assist Council in providing a clear framework for reducing community household emissions. It will show Council’s leadership within the community, with capacity to stimulate household emission reduction across the wider community.

Given that development constructed now will impact the municipality’s sustainability for many years to come. It is projected that by 2050, half of Australia’s building stock will be built from 2019 onwards. The opportunity to influence future change can be made today for the benefit of current and future generations, by participating in this project.

Project process and timelines

The project has been broken down into two stages. Council is currently committed to participating in stage 1, and will need to seek a Council resolution to participate in stage 2 of the project. This web page will be regularly updated as the project progresses, particularly as stage one finalises and Council begins to prepare for stage two of the project.

Stage One:

The first and current stage aims to develop an evidence base for:
• New developments that produce zero net emissions, better manage water and waste, increase greening and biodiversity, and are more resilient to our changing climate.
• Buildings that provide a healthier, more comfortable environment for our community and improve health outcomes.

This stage will involve undertaking a technical feasibility and viability analysis, a cost benefit analysis, and a peer and legal review of the revised ESD policy objectives and standards.

Stage Two:

The second and future stage involves the planning scheme amendment process to implement the findings and recommendations from stage one. This will be conducted as a group amendment.


For further information on this project, please contact Council’s Strategic Planning team on (03) 5471 1700 or email

Further details

Find out more about the Elevating ESD Targets project here -

The ESD roadmap project (‘Environmentally sustainable development of buildings and subdivisions: A Roadmap for Victorian Planning’) is led by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Find out more about the state government ‘ESD roadmap’ project here -

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