Using the Tool

The Sustainable Building Assessment Tool consists of an Excel tool and a manual. Existing buildings and designs are assessed by evaluating these against criteria in the tool.  The manual explains criteria and assessment processes as well as providing ideas and options that can be used to improve sustainability performance. Four broad stages are used in the application of the tool. These are target setting, assessment, performance improvement and confirmation and are described below.

Target setting

The tool supports a responsive approach to the integration of sustainability into buildings and construction processes. This means that the local context, functional performance and stakeholder consideration should be taken into account. This addressed through a target setting stage.

A target setting feature is included in the SBAT which enables a target performance footprint to be set. This enables performance in existing buildings or proposed designs to be evaluated against targets and appropriate measures taken to improve this. Target performance footprints are developed through reference to:

  • An analysis of the local context including the identification and prioritization of needs and opportunities.
  • An understanding of the building function and its potential role in supporting sustainability. 
  • Preferences expressed and supported by key building role players including owners, users, government and the local community.


Assessment of sustainability performance is carried by assessing existing buildings or designs against criteria within the tool. The manual can be referred to for more detail and to ensure assessments are standardized. Criteria achieved are reflected through allocating points in the 'actual' column with the 'potential' column indicating possible performance. Actual performance relative to potential performance is then reflected as figure out of 5.

Sustainability performance improvement

The process of assessing performance is useful as it can be used to stimulate and develop new or improved approaches which may improve sustainability performance. These options can then be assessed to evaluate the impact they make on sustainability performance in order to support an effective goal-orientated design and development processes. An iterative process of assessment, idea generation and development, further assessment, further option development and refinement is encouraged by the tool as this supports the development of high performance integrated approaches and can lead to 'break-through' multi-impact solutions which enable sustainability to be integrated highly effectively and efficiently.

Performance assessments and checks should occur throughout the development and life cycle of built environment projects to ensure that sustainability performance is maintained and objectives are not inadvertently lost. The following sustainability target setting and performance assessments and checks are recommended.

  • Planning and feasibility: Sustainability targets should be set (see target setting above). Outline assessment should be carried out to ascertain whether decisions in relation to the principles of the project are correct and will achieve optimum results. This assessment, therefore, relates to issues such as site location, the requirement for new or the use of existing fabric, building function and management options and potential for symbiotic interventions and joint development with other local land uses and communities. A planning and feasibility sustainability report including an SBAT assessment should be developed and issued to project stakeholders to demonstrate that effective processes were followed in setting targets and to ensure that these have been agreed. 
  • Concept design: This assessment would focus on ensuring basic principles related to the building are correct and include assessments of site layout, landscaping and land use, microclimate,  building form, linkages to neighbours, broad structural, material, IEQ and servicing strategies. A concept design sustainability report including an SBAT assessment should be included to demonstrate the achievement of sustainability targets and indicate how sustainability strategies are being developed and integrated into the project. 
  • Detailed design: This assessment would focus on ensuring that detailed design and specification effectively supported the achievement of sustainability targets. A detailed design sustainability report including an SBAT assessment should be included to demonstrate the achievement of sustainability targets and indicate how sustainability strategies are being developed and integrated into the project. 
  • Tender documentation: This assessment should focus on ensuring that sustainability has been effectively integrated into documentation in a way that ensures that construction and the final constructed building achieve sustainability targets. A tender documentation sustainability report including an SBAT assessment should be used to confirm that this integration has been effectively carried out. 
  • Construction: If tender documentation is comprehensive and the contractor follows this diligently, building design aspects will not have to be reassessed. However, processes should be in place to assess and report on construction-related impacts and ensure that targets are achieved. Monthly construction sustainability reports covering these aspects are a suitable way of ensuring and confirming that targets are achieved.  
  • Handover: This is an important stage for confirming that sustainability targets have been achieved in the final building. A detailed SBAT assessment should, therefore, be carried out to confirm that targets have been met. This should include measurements and tests to confirm that the required performance has been achieved. Where targets have not been achieved designers and contractors should be required to make modifications to ensure these will be achieved. A handover sustainability report should be used to ensure and confirm that sustainability targets are achieved.
  • Operation: While the SBAT is not the most appropriate tool for assessing operational performance it can be used in asset and maintenance audits to ensure that built environment characteristics required to maintain sustainability performance are in place. It can also be used as part of building refurbishment and addition projects.  


The SBAT report shown in the figure below indicates actual performance against target performance and can be used to confirm that targets are being achieved during the building development process. This confirmation can be used in a number of ways:

  • By designers to check and confirm that sustainability targets are being met during the development of designs and specifications. 
  • By building owners, developers, facility managers and users to understand, and influence where appropriate, the approach being taken by designers to achieve sustainability targets. 
  • By funders such as banks and development finance institutions to encourage and ensure sustainability is integrated into building projects they fund. 
  • By government and other authorization bodies to ensure that projects address sustainability and achieve minimum performance standards.  

Confirmation can be formalized through a third party and peer review processes developed and supported by Gauge where this required.  

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