EME 810
Solar Resource Assessment and Economics

6.9 Learning Activity: Pre-Design Charrette Plans


Congratulations! Your design team has been hired by Costco Wholesale Corporation to propose solar integration in one of their regions (to showcase one of their commercial retail buildings in each location). You job is to make a short written survey of the case, suggesting a plan to maximize the solar utility for their regional management in Texas. 

Building Location:  Austin, TX

Main Goal: Suggest plans and implementation strategies to maximize the solar utility in TX Costco facility taking into consideration key stakeholders at the locale.
Task: Develop a 1-2 page outline for the regional manager that sketches out the background required for the initial charrette , a type of pre-design brainstorming session, which would be be held later this year and bring in many stakeholders to the table. The prepared document should brief the Costco regional manager of your findings and strategies for a successful charrette. You may use images if it helps to explain your plans. You may use some calculations to demonstrate the solar potential of the site. However, your main goal is not to present the detailed design just yet, but rather develop a compelling argument for the idea.

I would suggest you develop the outline that addresses three topics that commonly occur in a solar integration discussion: (1) energy efficiency, (2) adding solar technologies on site or off-site, and (3) economic and environmental rationale. 

Here is the suggested structure:

  1. General Information for Locale (in its diverse meaning)
  2. Building Energy Information: energy demand (known or approximated), energy provider, energy sources, e.g. natural gas, electric., etc.)
  3. Location/Site Analysis for SECS:  Area available for SECS: PV / Solar Hot Water Systems / Passive solar / Solar roof control (white roof, green roof)
  4. Energy Efficiency Strategies: SECS efficiency considerations and building energy effiency/conservation
  5. Key Stakeholders (not only Regional Managers)
  6. Economic Considerations
  7. Environmental Considerations


  • Another company previously developed a similar summary for Costco NY location. It is available to you as an example (see Canvas), but resist to just copy their format - you can do a better job organizing and presenting your data!

Diverse resources available from the USA Dept. of Energy:

There are also extensive resources available at the 7Group website.


Submit your outlines as PDF files in the Canvas Learning Activity 6.1 Dropbox: Pre-Design Summary. Appropriately cite any references used in your report.

Grading Criteria

You will be graded on your ability to develop a compelling outline that raises new questions and provides scope for the upcoming charrette. All this is based on limited information of the actual site, but extensive access to general information about the type of building and potential stakeholders. The activity assesses your knowledge of investigating the client and stakeholders and the locale when planning to maximize solar utility in the pre-design phase.

Grading Rubric

This is a 20 point assignment

  • 4 pts: include at least 4 elements of locale
  • 4 pt: assess the building type (commercial retail/warehouse) for on-site energy demand
  • 4 pt: assess the area/site and its suitability for installing solar technologies for local energy production
  • 2 pt: assess strategies for reducing energy demand
  • 2 pt: include a list of at least five types of potential stakeholders for the charrette
  • 2 pt: list economic questions to consider
  • 2 pt: list environmental questions to consider


See the Calendar tab in Canvas for specific due dates.