Format and Schedule of the Charrette

A green design charrette requires at least a half day and, if the project is in a very early stage and many alternate approaches are being discussed, may require up to two days. The room should be set up to encourage collaboration—either a round table or multiple tables arranged in a square. General rules of order—such as having only one person speak at a time so everyone can hear, having people raise their hand if they want to speak, and forbidding side conversations—should be established up front. Establish a culture of collaboration by making it clear that all ideas are valued and by encouraging people to make suggestions outside of their specific area of expertise or to propose creative solutions that do not appear to fit within conventional industry practices.

Either prior to or as the first component of the charrette, the development team should visit the site to become familiar with the patterns of local winds, rainfall, solar exposure, relationships to nearby buildings, and ambient noise. Walking around the neighborhood can reveal off-site factors that might affect the development, such as traffic and pedestrian circulation patterns and the location of neighborhood amenities and services. Site visits allow team members to imagine how the development would affect the appearance of the neighborhood, and how to place the buildings to take advantage of the site's inherent benefits.

To start the charrette, the project developer and architect should describe the overall objectives of the project—what types of families or individuals will be served and how the project fits into other types of housing or social services in the surrounding neighbor-hood—and any major regulatory or community issues. The architect should outline the general approach for the project in terms of how the buildings could be located; the number, size, and placement of the dwelling units; the number and location of parking spaces; and any façade or other design features being considered.

The next step is to identify and document the overall goals of the green building effort in a concise statement. At a minimum, the project goals should include reducing utility bills for tenants, increasing durability for the owner, and creating healthier environments for residents. Other goals could include providing tenants with a way to interact with nature, assisting in fundraising for the project, supporting larger community-wide greening efforts, or providing features in the project that make it more palatable to the neighbors or elected officials. The goal statement then provides direction to the design team in setting more specific performance criteria and evaluating various strategies, systems, or materials for inclusion in the project.



• Productive location

• Diverse perspectives

• Technical knowledge

• Clear and agreed-on goals

Through the course of the charrette, the goal statement should be refined into clear, specific, and measurable performance criteria. Examples of the performance criteria include:

• Neighborhood connections: Bicycle racks should be installed for 50 percent or more of the dwelling units; safe walkways should be created through the development; clear connections should be provided to public sidewalks leading to neighborhood facilities.

• Energy efficiency and renewable energy use: Building code requirements for energy efficiency should be exceeded by at least 15 percent; at least 10 percent of annual electricity needs should be provided through on-site energy generation.

• Resource efficiency: A set number or value of recycled-content materials should be used; 50 percent or more of the construction waste should be recycled; water use should be reduced by at least 15 percent.

• Durability: Improve the durability of units through the incorporation of products with long-term warranties.

• Indoor air quality: Introduction of toxins should be avoided to the greatest extent possible; only materials with no added urea formaldehyde should be used; sufficient introduction of fresh air into the living space, and regular removal of stale air should be provided.

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