The Upstream Tools and Curriculum were developed to help development teams make better informed decisions during site selection and conceptual design. Upstream is tied to the Green Communities Criteria with the Minnesota Overlay and is intended to assist teams to quickly assess options in order to maximize positive outcomes for projects in a variety of areas including energy and water efficiency, stormwater management, transportation, and resident health.

Why start early?
 As design work progresses, opportunities to improve performance decrease, while the costs of achieving set performance goals increase. It is estimated that early design decisions affect up to 80% of a project’s impacts to the environment and operational costs. Thus, to achieve maximum energy efficiency and project performance with minimal costs, planning is critical from the earliest moments of project design.

The Upstream tools and training address the following issues:

  • What are the potential impacts to water quality and quantity? How can water flow issues be addressed?
  • What is the optimal placement and shape of the building in order to optimize passive solar gain? What are the opportunities for alternative energy generation on site?
  • How does the potential building tie into existing transportation and utility infrastructure?
  • How is resident health and happiness affected by site conditions and surroundings?