Use generative design features in Google Earth

Start a preview account

To make it easier and faster for professionals to work on early-stage design and solar planning, Google Earth has partnered with Delve. This partnership lets the professionals identify project locations, generate designs, and evaluate over 80 performance metrics to uncover optimal and sustainable options. To draw sites directly in Google Earth, use Delve.

Anyone with a Google account can use generative design features in Google Earth to explore the best building designs and solar feasibility for a site, and evaluate options against financials, carbon emissions and other goals. Learn how to create a Google account.

Important: You’ll have access to a preview account for 60 days. A preview account lets you create a limited number of sites and studies before its expiration date. When the 60 day trial period ends, you’ll have reviewer access only. You’ll no longer be able to:

  • Create sites
  • Create studies
  • Create reports

Designs and data can still be downloaded for up to 30 days after your preview account has expired. After 30 days, you’ll be given the option to extend after filling out the end-of-preview survey. If you don’t request an extension your preview account will be deleted. Learn more about generative design features in Google Earth.

Create a site

To find the best options for your real estate development like sustainable building designs and solar feasibility for sites larger than 0.5 acres, you can draw sites directly in Google Earth with your preview account. To create a site, login to your generative design features account.

A site is defined by a specific geographic area, and can have multiple studies, which are composed of individual designs for a given set of inputs.

Tips:

To create a site, you’ll need:

  • Parcel area
  • Local zoning requirements like maximum height, maximum floor area ratio, maximum building coverage ratio, and minimum open space ratio

Add a new site

You can create a new site directly from the homepage:

  1. Login to your generative design preview account to start creating sites.
  2. On the homepage, click Sites and then + Add New Site.
  3. Give your new site a name.
  4. Select the unit system and currency for your site.
  5. Confirm your site details. If necessary, edit the zoning constraints provided in the “+ Add New Site” step by selecting Edit under each parcel card.
  6. To create a study, click Next.

Create a study

Depending on the size of the site and type of study, initial design generation can take several minutes. Results will then appear in the map. When the process is complete, you’ll receive an email.

  1. From your project page, click Create Study.
  2. Select the type of study you want to create. You’ll have the option to select a yield, highest and best use or solar feasibility study.
  3. Add your inputs.
  4. Click Generate.
  5. Your designs will be generated and ranked to find the top designs across priorities.

Create a Yield study

To find the maximum yield on a site, create a Yield study. The study will be complete when streets, parks, and buildings are generated. A yield study can take 10–15 minutes to generate.

Inputs:

  1. Use types
  2. Program ranges

Outputs:

  1. A summary report of the top three design options for Gross Floor Areas (GFAs) yield
  2. Additional design options you can compare on the Explore page

Create a Highest and best use study

To test program strategy and discover what works best based on financials and metrics like quality-of-life and sustainability, create a Highest and best use study. A Highest and best use study can take 20-30 minutes to generate.

Inputs:

  • Use types
  • Program ranges
  • Financial metrics

Important: If you select financial metrics, you’ll need to upload financial assumptions.

Outputs:

  • A summary report of the top three design options for GFAs yield
  • Additional design options you can compare on the Explore page

Create a Solar feasibility study

To understand carbon impact, cost, and return on investment potential of adding solar panels to an existing site, create a Solar study.

Inputs:

  • Financial assumptions
  • Energy usage assumptions

Outputs:

  • Potential implementation options for solar panels across roofs and parking lots
  • Financial model to help understand cost and return on investment for solar configuration, rooftop solar panels, solar canopies, and solar carports

View your designs in Earth

Once your design has been generated, select Continue in Earth to view it in Google Earth or download it to your computer.

Add inputs to a build in Google Earth

Add use types

The use types selected will determine which building types can be tested on your site and will be reflected in the calculation of key metrics. Use type attributes can be overridden if necessary.

  1. Click + Add Use Type.
  2. Select from a default list of use types in the drop down. You can rename a use type to customize it for your project and edit attributes such as loss factor, floor to floor height, and unit mix after types are added.

Add program targets

Enter program targets for each use type. You can choose to enter it as a site target or parcel target by selecting Site or Parcel. You also have the option of dictating how much of the site total should be reserved for different use types.

Select building types

Select and customize building types in the generated design options and customize building types by height, key dimensions, and use types.

Recommendations are generated based on your use types and program targets, and will automatically be added to your study.

  • Select + Add building types to search and select buildings to test. These are market-driven building types that come out-of-the-box and represent a range of common mixed-use and single-use asset types.
  • To add a building type template, select the checkbox for each building type template. These templates will generate buildings that vary in size and configuration based on your inputs.

Customize building types

To customize a building type template, click Edit on the building type card after it’s added to your study. You can edit the following dimensions:

  • Building type name
  • Max height
  • Min and max footprint
  • Use type
  • Floor to floor height
  • Efficiency
  • Number of floors
  • Lease depth
  • Corridor width

Tip: Default values are based on dimensions from common building types in North American markets.

To save changes made to a building type, click Save.

To delete a building type, click More More and then Delete building.

Change pre-filled study inputs

Pre-filled financial assumptions are based on estimates for your area. You can make changes by updating the inputs used to calculate cost estimates and Return of Investments (ROI).

Pre-filled inputs you can change include:

  • Solar costs
  • Electricity
  • Net metering preference

You can also select the following options:

  • Excess: Sell extra solar energy after used on site
  • All: Sell all energy generated from solar
  • Not applicable: Net metering is not supported
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