Key Actions in Planning
- Conduct a preliminary review of renewable energy resources available at the site.
- Identify major restrictions to using on-site renewable electricity generation.
- Ensure the planning team includes wide set of disciplines/skills, including renewable energy expertise.
- Identify the agency project energy lead with specific renewable energy skills and experience.
- Identify budget for additional upfront costs associated with integrated design process.
Energy use should be considered in the earliest stages of pre-project planning when both opportunities and constraints can be identified and evaluated with comparatively few restraints. Energy efficiency and renewable energy choices are integral to a number of other project parameters, such as overall space requirements, site selection, massing, building orientation, and various site planning and architectural considerations. The most cost-effective time to set the direction of a project is during planning. This is the time when tradeoff evaluations and alternative analysis can be performed before too many key project parameters have already been established.
Decisions made in this section also need to inform budgeting decisions.
Once a project's general location is known, the agency can begin to look at renewable energy options available to the project. A preliminary screening, or an early self-assessment, looks at the potential options appropriate to the site. Although this does not give detailed information, it is a first look at the types of renewable resources located near the project. This early knowledge can help the agency understand the impacts of site selection on renewable energy and can highlight which skills might be useful during planning.
Ideally, renewable energy should be considered at the master or community planning stage for an area. If a campus is planned or future expansions are part of a master plan, this could create opportunities for certain renewable energy options, such as central plants of larger-scale technology or district-wide applications. This can offer attractive economics and centralized renewable energy development.
Renewable energy potential should be a factor in site selection. Although other aspects of location may be more important, the renewable energy resources in each location and constraints on the site, such as shading for solar technologies or obstacles to a wind resource, can be valuable selection criteria.
When developing the planning team, the agency should ensure members are familiar with all potential renewable energy options for the site. The team should also include energy efficiency expertise, because efficiency should be integrated into a project before renewable energy. Experts in each technology may not be needed at this stage, but the team should include representatives that understand key issues so that renewable energy technologies are appropriately considered and as many options as possible remain available for the subsequent design phase.
More information on the key considerations in establishing the team is available in the planning team section.