Architects, landscape architect, developers and other built environment professionals in Melbourne now have a new way to assess and benchmark the environmental credentials of their buildings and communities.

In what it says is an Australian-first, the City of Melbourne has released the Green Factor tool which it says will help developers to measure the sustainability credentials of their design at an early stage.

Using the tool, architects and others will input information about their site along with green infrastructure elements of their proposed design such as inground features (existing and new), green walls, green facades, planters (on structure) and green roofs.

They will then receive an overall scorecard which will be determined by green elements, ecosystem outcomes and location of green elements.

The score factors in the relative volume and efficacy of green elements in comparison to the overall area of the site.

This will then be able to be compared to a Green Factor Target which is under development.

Set to be based on a building typology and location basis, the target will be a means against which to benchmark the expected minimum performance needed in order to meet broader greening objectives.

Whilst the tool is currently voluntary, the City is asking developers who submit plans except for single storey detached homes to submit a green factor scorecard and to achieve a target score of 0.55 or 0.25 in the case of industrial property.

In a statement, the City of Melbourne said the tool will promote good practices in terms of urban heat island effect reduction, protection of biodiversity, stormwater reduction, social amenity and aesthetic value.

It has the potential to work in with other rating systems such as Green Star, the Council believes.

City of Melbourne Environment portfolio chair Councillor Cathy Oke welcome the new tool.

“Green Factor is the first online tool of its kind developed in Australia. It will help build more sustainable buildings and communities by measuring the quality and quantity of green infrastructure, such as green roofs, walls and gardens,” Oke said.

“We had more than 650 people register for an information session on how to use the voluntary Green Factor Tool as well as an opportunity to test it on their future projects.”

“We’re responding to the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency with a range of actions, including encouraging greening on private and public land.”

“There is a clear business case for green buildings in terms of limiting global warming, but also because these are places where people want to live and work. People that live and work in well-designed environments are more likely to be happy and healthy.”