Housing is a fundamental human right and plays a significant role in determining the health and quality of life. It also has a  significant influence on the built and natural environments throughout its life cycle from construction to demolition. The main objective of residential sustainable design is to reduce problematic environmental and social impacts whilst saving money on the cost of living over the life of the house.
This unit focuses on the design, assessment (the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard,BESS and the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) and documentation process of a single sustainable dwelling. It combines the theoretical knowledge of the environmental performance of residential buildings,  covering management, water, energy, stormwater, indoor environmental quality (IEQ), transport, waste, urban ecology and innovation, with the design process in accordance with planning permit requirements. Students will learn how to use these skills to deliver sustainable, net-zero energy and practical residential building design and to prepare environmentally sustainable design (ESD) report. These skills are closely aligned with industry expectations for positions, such as building designers and ESD  consultants in architectural , building design, engineering and construction companies.

Unit details

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Unit code:

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Critically analyse the principles, materials, structure and strategies used in residential buildings and integrate theoretical knowledge, building environmental performance assessments and creativity to deliver sustainable and net-zero energy residential building;  
  2. Critically review the residential building codes (BCA), Australian Standards requirements and guidelines that are used in planning and building permit applications, and the environmental performance of the residential buildings;  
  3. Demonstrate a clear understanding of Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS), Codes for Sustainable Homes, Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS)and other environmental building performance tools;  
  4. Conduct, interpret and apply Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) assessment and integrate bushfire protection requirements into building design and construction; and  
  5. Formulate an environmentally sustainable design (ESD) report for residential buildings.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Case Study Case Study 20%
Project Portfolio and presentation demonstrating design outputs 30%
Report Environmental performance evaluation of the initial design to comply with the regulations. 15%
Report ESD Report 35%

Where to next?

As part of a course

This unit is studied as part of the following courses. Refer to the course page for information on how to apply for the course.

Study a single unit

This unit can be studied on its own, without enrolling in a full degree. Learn more about single units of study at VU.

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