12 Jul 2022

Our cities and communities are faced with significant challenges environmentally, with over 40% of carbon emissions coming from buildings and infrastructure projects. Embedding sustainability frameworks at the planning stage is imperative to achieve climate positive outcomes to better our future.

The Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), NABERS and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources approached Urbis to evaluate how sustainability rating tools and policies are positioned within the existing statutory planning frameworks.

There is a real opportunity in changing the built environment landscape around sustainability. Policy is changing, with initiatives for buildings to be more efficient in an already complex system. We are navigating through these changes with our clients in recognising the tangible benefits in reaching ESG targets.

Jonathan Mills View Profile

Jon Mills, Director of Smart Cities and Environmental Planning in Victoria, says “Our research was able to compare the planning systems across Australia and provide a means to understand how sustainability tools are being used and provide practical recommendations for policy makers in developing policies and integrating measurable, sustainable controls into the planning systems across Australia”.

This will lead to tangible and innovative results – greener buildings, more climatically-responsive design and an urban form which embraces sustainability in a way which celebrates our natural world and makes the way we live more environmentally responsible.

Sophie Lam View Profile

Sophie Lam, Associate Director of Planning in Brisbane, says “This research will be a strong catalyst for further discussions with local and State governments about how we can make sustainability tools a more meaningful part of the planning framework. “

Multiple government organisations were interviewed nationally to evaluate how sustainability tools are being applied to new developments. By embedding sustainability frameworks in the planning stage, the impacts of climate change can be reduced, leading to safer and greener communities for future generations.

Local communities are calling for action on climate change and as the third largest Green Star user by sector, local government is responding.

Davina Rooney

Davina Rooney, CEO, Green Building Council of Australia says, “This research from Urbis is a valuable insight into how councils are meeting and often going beyond minimum standards to ensure healthy and sustainable outcomes for communities into the future. We look forward to seeing how the findings can help us support local government on this journey.”



The outcome from this research was the GBCA’s guide Supporting sustainable development. This guide aims to help local government incorporate environmental performance standards into local planning frameworks. It highlights examples and key lessons learnt from the research undertaken by Urbis, captured in the Built Environment Sustainability Frameworks report.


We ask you to join Jon Mills, our Director of Smart Cities and Environmental Planning, who will be speaking at the ‘Insights into achieving sustainable development through planning’ webinar on Wednesday 17th August, 12pm. The GBCA and Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) webinar will explore recent research into the state and territory planning frameworks and how local councils are using planning systems to drive change in their local government areas.