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Frequently Asked Questions

My development achieves a 6 star standard. Do I still have to have to complete a SDA?

The Building Code of Australia (Victoria) requires all new residential buildings to obtain a minimum 6 Star rating under the FirstRate home energy rating system (or equivalent) and include either a rainwater tank for toilet flushing or a solar hot water system.

Renovations and extensions are also required to obtain a minimum 6 star rating under FirstRate (or equivalent).

In general the 6 Star standard relates to the energy efficiency of the structure in terms of the amount of heat or cooling required to reach a predetermined temperature per square metre of floor. FirstRate does not assess the actual efficiency of the appliances used to heat or cool a dwelling, nor does it cover issues such as water efficiency and stormwater quality.

BESS deals with a much broader range of issues relating to the environmental performance that are in excess of those covered by the 6 Star standard. It is important to note that in order to correctly complete a BESS assessment a FirstRate assessment is required.

Why do I have to provide a Sustainable Design Assessment?

Knox City Council’s Environmentally Sustainable Design Policy represents the cornerstone of our commitment to achieving a sustainable built environment.

What if I cannot achieve enough points to complete the STEPS tool?

Design elements that could assist in achieving an improved sustainability assessment are:

  • Orientation - Locating living and working spaces on the northern side of a building layout, wherever possible.
  • Setbacks - Setback walls sufficiently from north site boundaries and structures to enable winter solar access to main north-facing windows.
  • Windows - Limit and/or provide double/triple glazed south-facing windows. Limit windows (particularly west facing) where strong summer sun can enter. Incorporate window-shading devices to windows located on west/east facing walls designed to protect from exposure to hot summer sun. Select windows that can be opened to allow air ventilation.
  • Natural cooling mechanisms - Provide opportunities for good cross-ventilation to help cool buildings in summer. Provide deciduous planting on north side of buildings and evergreens on the west side. Include eaves, particularly on the north-side of the building to reduce unwanted summer heat gain, whilst maintaining winter heat gain.
  • Stormwater collection - Water collection tanks to provide water for gardens or toilet flushing are recommended.
  • Permeability - Adequate permeable site area to reduce the amount of stormwater run-off should be provided. ResCode requires a minimum of 20% of a site to be water permeable, and this should be exceeded wherever possible. Rain water tanks are available from a wide variety of sources. Contact Council’s Engineering Services area for requirements in relation to rainwater tanks. For further information on grey water re-use and system installation contact your water provider.

I am building a single house, dwelling extension or small commercial extension. Can I still use BESS?

If you are not required to provide a Sustainable Design Assessment, Council still recommends that you incorporate sustainability in your design.

You can still use the BESS tool to improve your design.

Find out more about designing a sustainable home or extension, please refer to our External Web Links to Sustainable Design at the bottom of this page.

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