May 18, 2020

BESS turns 5!

The Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard officially turned five on 13 May 2020.

The technical centrepiece of the Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process framework, BESS is an online sustainability assessment tool for buildings. Developed by local government for local government, BESS enables a consistent assessment of progress towards a sustainable built environment.

It’s a testament to the dedication and commitment to this project to note that many of the people involved in the tool at its inception are still working on BESS and within CASBE.

We would like to acknowledge the support of all these people over the years.

In particular, we would like to acknowledge Moreland City Council for the inception of this project, supported by State Government funding. The leadership from Moreland was in part driven by the late Mike Hill, an early advocate and leader in sustainable design, and a strong supporter of the CASBE councils. We also acknowledge all the councils who have sat on the BESS Governance Board. It is the countless hours by dedicated council staff that have enabled the development of this resource.

Let’s take a look back at our key achievements.

After launching in May 2015, a free 12 month trial period of the tool enabled all Victoria councils to explore its possibilities.

Version 1.4 went live in June 2016, reworking calculations for better usability. By this time BESS had over 2900 unique users and had produced reports for over 5000 properties.

Version 1.5 went live in February 2017, providing improved user experience features and scoring for mixed-use projects. Around this time, we introduced a rolling approach to minor changes to the tool and the website, whereby the BESS team and the software consultant could continually push through small improvements. We are now able to upgrade and respond to quality control more quickly and more often. This resulted in a 30% reduction in queries.

By June 2017, there were 20 BESS subscribing councils – grown to 26 councils today.

Version 1.6 went live in August 2019, adding new credits, reworking calculations and making key user experience enhancements. Version 1.6.1 went live in January 2020, adding unconditioned spaces and other input improvements and in May 2020 Version 1.6.2 went live to align with NCC 2019 changes.

BESS is an incredible example of local government collaboration and has become an important part of the push for a more sustainable built environment in Victoria.