Resource: Solar Ready Building Design Guidelines for Minnesota
NextStep website and MnSCN are winding down
The NextStep website and the Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network (MnSCN) are winding down and will no longer function after June 30, 2015. Until then, the website will be accessible, but existing web site content will not be updated nor will new resources or other new content be added to the site. Learn more.

Title: Solar Ready Building Design Guidelines for Minnesota
Resource type: Guidelines
Topics: Buildings, Energy, Individual Choices
Keywords: solar energy, building design, design guidelines
Audience: All
Region: Twin Cities, Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
Summary: These guidelines can help those designing buildings in Minnesota to understand and plan for future solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems.
Content: Prepared in 2010 for the Minneapolis Saint Paul Solar Cities Program ( as funded by The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), are two useful resources that can be downloaded for free. (The text below is modified from the first document listed.)

The Solar Ready Buildings Guide presents solar ready building guidelines that are tailored to the Twin Cities region specifically and the Midwest/Minnesota in general. The guidelines are a regional supplement to the Solar Ready Buildings Planning Guide published by NREL in December 2009.

Solar Ready Design Guidelines for the Twin Cities, Minnesota - (26 pages)

* This guide is designed to help Minnesota architects, engineers, contractors and their clients understand and plan for future solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems. These guidelines include recommendations related to solar system siting, roof orientation, structural load profiles, visual appearance, co-location issues with HVAC equipment, type of roof, location on roof, conduit locations and racking alternates. This is to be used during the planning and design phases of the project.

Solar Ready Construction Specifications - 8 pages

* This is a model specification for solar ready construction and is to be included in the Project Specification document.

The Design Guidelines and Construction Specifications are companion documents to be used together. Starting with the Design Guidelines in the initial stages of project planning and the finalization of building design, the owner and building team make decisions informing the construction process. The Construction Specifications, along with the drawings and other specification sections, document these decisions so that solar ready systems can be easily incorporated during the construction process.

The design guidelines/specifications address two specific building types:

1. Urban-sized new single family and duplex construction with pitched roofs, and;

2. Flat-roof structures one to four stories that could be multi-family housing, commercial/office or mixed-use buildings. Taken together, these two building types comprise the vast majority of new construction in the Twin Cities region.

Other building types can be designed as solar ready, but the design process is usually more complex and is thus not directly addressed in these documents. The basic principles of solar ready design are, however, the same for all building types - designing for a rooftop solar area, maintaining a direct chase or connection to the buildings mechanical and electric systems, and space in the utility area for mechanical and storage components.

The audience for these documents includes:

* Public Agencies; State (i.e. Minnesota Housing Finance Agency), counties and cities

* Neighborhood organizations, District Councils, and Community Development Corporations

* Non-profit and for profit development community

* Owners, architects, builders and contractors

Suggested by: Paul Moss
Added: 02/18/11
Updated: 08/16/11