Sustainable Urban Construction Law

Subject LAWS90029 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2016.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: The total class time is between 24 and 26 hours.
Total Time Commitment:

The pre-teaching period commences four weeks before the subject commencement date. From this time, students are expected to access and review the Reading Guide that will be available from the LMS subject page and the subject materials provided by the subject coordinator, which will be available from Melbourne Law School. Refer to the Reading Guide for confirmation of which resources need to be read and what other preparation is required before the teaching period commences.

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Applicants without legal qualifications should note that subjects are offered in the discipline of law at an advanced graduate level. While every effort will be made to meet the needs of students trained in other fields, concessions will not be made in the general level of instruction or assessment. Most subjects assume the knowledge usually acquired in a degree in law (LLB, JD or equivalent). Applicants should note that admission to some subjects in the Melbourne Law Masters will be dependent upon the individual applicant’s educational background and professional experience.

Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

The Melbourne Law Masters welcomes applications from students with disabilities. The inherent academic requirements for study in the Melbourne Law Masters are:

  • The ability to attend a minimum of 75% of classes and actively engage in the analysis and critique of complex materials and debate;
  • The ability to read, analyse and comprehend complex written legal materials and complex interdisciplinary materials;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate in writing a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and to critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to clearly and independently communicate orally a knowledge and application of legal principles and interdisciplinary materials and critically evaluate these;
  • The ability to work independently and as a part of a group;
  • The ability to present orally and in writing legal analysis to a professional standard.

Students who feel their disability will inhibit them from meeting these inherent academic requirements are encouraged to contact the Disability Liaison Unit:


For more information:

Phone: +61 3 8344 6190

Subject Overview:

Sustainability is the latest movement influencing the regulation of the built form of our increasingly large, complex, and conflicted cities. An interest in sustainable development has also seen urban regulators embrace more participatory and innovative forms of governance and economy.

This subject explores the trends in sustainability that have particular pertinence to the regulation of construction, and the attempts of law makers to grapple with sustainable development in the city. In particular, the green building standards and certification, and the role of municipal and state laws. A key component of this subject will be the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) as an instrument of construction management to achieve sustainability requirements and objectives. This subject has been designed for those interested in the intersection between construction law and environmental law. The teachers in the subject have expertise across both fields in practice and academia.

This subject provides a contemporary and forward looking examination of the laws that are encouraging more sustainable cities, with a contextual focus on Greater Melbourne, but with no specific jurisdictional focus. Principal topics include:

  • Sustainability in the city; exploring new ideas on what sustainable development means in an urban setting, policy priorities for sustainability, ideas of new governance for sustainability, and new economic and legal models to achieve sustainability outcomes. This topic will be explored through a field trip in the city.
  • Energy efficiency and the regulation of green buildings, through voluntary and mandatory schemes, including GreenStar and BASIX, and a comparison of green rating and standard tools in Australia (NABERS), the US (LEED) and the UK and Europe (BREEAM)
  • A sustainability analysis of the National Construction Code.
  • The use and role of land use planning laws and local governance to achieve improved sustainability features in the built urban environment, focusing on Victorian laws
  • The development and future expansion of alternative construction management methods, focusing on Building Information Modelling (BIM), especially insofar as this model offers great capacity for sustainability requirements to be incorporated into construction projects and represents a new more participatory form of construction management.
  • An applied case study analysis of how sustainable urban construction law works in practice.
Learning Outcomes:

A student who has successfully completed this subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding in an urban and contemporary context of the role and function of law – regulatory and contractual – to achieve sustainability objectives in the built environment
  • Be able to demonstrate an appreciation of the changing role and forms of governance and economy within a sustainable city and the manner in which these changes are affecting laws and legal relationships
  • Have the expert, specialised cognitive skills to be able to deal at an advanced level with the major regulatory aspects of green buildings and sustainability in municipal law
  • Have an advanced understanding of the sustainability objectives and requirements within the National Construction Code (incorporating the Building Code of Australia)
  • Be familiar with, be able to critically reflect on, and be confident in working across, the interaction points between environmental and construction law in the pursuit of sustainable development.
  • Have a detailed, critical and technical understanding of the contract management models, specifically those relating to Building Information Modelling (BIM), that have the capacity to most effectively ensure that sustainability requirements and objectives are incorporated into construction projects
  • Be able to demonstrate the research and communication skills to independently investigate, examine and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to urban construction laws for sustainability.
  • Two short reflective (ie non-research, but based on class readings) essays (1,500 words each): one on the subject of sustainability within context and one on an instrument for sustainable construction (30%) (9 September)
  • 6,000 word research paper (70%) (16 November) on a topic approved by the subject coordinator
Prescribed Texts:

Core subject materials will be provided free of charge to all students. Some subjects require further texts to be purchased. Details regarding any prescribed texts will be provided prior to the commencement of the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:

This subject has a quota of 30 students. Please refer to the website for further information about the management of subject quotas and waitlists.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Construction Law
Graduate Diploma in Environmental Law
Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies
Master of Commercial Law
Master of Construction Law
Master of Environmental Law
Master of Laws
Master of Public and International Law

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