Sustainable Building SEPP

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Sustainable Building SEPP

By Elizabeth Laurie and Alyce Kliese

Key Points
  • The State Environmental Planning Policy (Sustainable Buildings) 2022 (Sustainable Buildings SEPP) will commence on 1 October 2023.
  • The SEPP will not apply to development applications or modification applications that have already been submitted, but not yet determined by the commencement date.
  • The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the design and construction of residential and non-residential buildings is a key purpose and aim of the Sustainable Buildings SEPP.

On 29 August 2022, the NSW Government announced the introduction of the Sustainable Buildings SEPP. This SEPP is the result of the over two years of Government consultation with industry, council and community representatives. It reflects the building and construction industry’s commitment towards sustainability as well as the Government’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions in NSW by 2050.

The Sustainable Buildings SEPP sets standards for both residential and non-residential development. For residential development, the SEPP incorporates the current Building Sustainability Index, known as BASIX, into its provisions. As a result of this, the current State Environmental Planning Policy (Building Sustainability Index: BASIX) 2004 will be repealed when the Sustainable Building SEPP takes effect. For non-residential development, the Sustainable Buildings SEPP has a focus on integrated design and as such will require applicants to be conscious of how their design will, for example, enable the generation and storage of renewable energy.

Purpose and Aims

The NSW Government has indicated that the purpose of the Sustainable Buildings SEPP is to:

  • minimise the consumption of energy and potable water;
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use;
  • monitor the embodied emissions of building materials; and
  • monitor the embodied emissions of building materials; and

In addition, the SEPP specifies 8 aims, which include those detailed above and others, including to:

  • encourage the design and delivery of sustainable buildings;
  • ensure consistent assessment of the sustainability of buildings; and
  • record accurate data about the sustainability of buildings, to enable improvements to be monitored.

More broadly, the introduction of this SEPP works towards achieving NSW Government targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These targets include to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, and ultimately a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Important Provisions
  • Standards for Residential Development
    • Clause 2.1(1) and (2) – These clauses specifies that Schedule 1 of the Sustainable Buildings SEPP will apply to BASIX buildings and change of use to BASIX buildings, while Schedule 2 of the SEPP will apply to alterations of BASIX buildings and BASIX swimming pools and spas.
    • Schedules 1 and 2– These schedules set out the baseline standards for energy and water use as well as thermal performance for different types of BASIX development. The BASIX standards for energy use and thermal performance have all increased across NSW, except for standards relating to homes located in the North Coast climate zones and small apartment buildings up to 5 storeys.  The BASIX standards for water have remained the same.
  • Standards for Non-Residential Development
    • Clause 3.2(1) – This clause sets out what a consent authority must consider in deciding whether to grant development consent. These considerations focus on the design of the development and their ability to enable, for example:
      • the minimisation of waste from associated demolition and construction;
      • a reduction in peak demand for electricity;
      • the generation and storage of renewable energy; and
      • the minimisation of the consumption of potable water.
    • Clause 3.2(2) – This clause prohibits a consent authority granting development consent to non-residential development unless they are satisfied that the embodied emissions attributable to the development have been quantified.
    • Clause 3.1(2) – This clause provides that Chapter 3, which sets out the standards for non-residential development, will not apply to some types of development. For example, the standards do not apply to land zoned rural, industrial, environmental conservation and waterways.
More Information

You can read the Sustainable Buildings SEPP here and you can read an overview of the SEPP prepared by the NSW Government here.