• Artist view of the Hurstville Civic Centre in 2050.
    Artist view of the Hurstville Civic Centre in 2050.

An online tool to measure how ‘green’ proposed major developments are before they’re approved for construction has been created by the Georges River Council’s planning and environment teams in Sydney.

The Environmental Sustainability Calculator uses a simple points-based system to help large-scale Development Applications (DA’s) meet environmental sustainability requirements in the Georges River Local Environmental Plan (GRLEP) 2021.

Georges River Council Mayor Nick Katris said the tool was developed to help meet the council’s net zero by 2050 target.

Katris said it will also help to meet the community’s need for increased housing by streamlining the assessment process for new apartment buildings.

“Major developments in the high-density residential and employment zones are built to last and should be sustainable and future-proofed to achieve this,” he said.

“This tool was developed by Council staff and uses a simple scoring system to help applicants to understand sustainability requirements, for example, ‘if you have X number of solar panels, you get X number of points.’”

Sustainable measures encouraged by the tool include the use of native plants in landscaping; use of light reflective roof colours; and providing the skeleton infrastructure in the basement for electric vehicle chargers to be easily installed by future residents.

Mayor Katris said Council had commenced an industry engagement process with online workshops planned for developers and architects in the coming months.

From January 2024, the tool will be used by all applicants for proposed developments with a gross floor area of 1,500m2 or more in high density residential zones and employment zones.

“We want to identify improvement opportunities and make sure the sustainability calculator is user-friendly ahead of its official rollout,” Katris said.

“Our aim is to provide clear guidance for both industry and council staff who assess DAs to streamline the approvals process for new high density residential, commercial and industrial buildings.

“This is a great example of innovation by Council staff and further demonstrates to the community Council’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Our planning and environment teams have come together to bring this project to life.”