Solar Powering Sunnyside

Solar Powering Sunnyside is a new participatory planning exercise in the spirit of the comprehensive planning "chip games" that many communities use to engage residents and other stakeholders in developing preferred growth scenarios.

It's a fun and interactive way to get community members thinking about solar development options from a land-use planning perspective. Through game play, each participant will take on the role of a different community stakeholder in the Sunnyside in order to help set and meet the town's annual solar power production goal.

Game Downloads

Download everything you'll need to plan and host your own Solar Powering Sunnyside game day:


How does Solar Powering Sunnyside Work?
The fictional Town of Sunnyside does not currently have any solar energy systems within its borders. However, it recently completed a community visioning and goal setting exercise, which produced the following goal: Embrace local solar power production to support economic development and community resilience.

Solar Powering Sunnyside is played in two rounds. In the first round of the game, participants will set a solar power production goal, discuss solar development opportunities and challenges associated with each of Sunnyside's land uses, and place game pieces representing rooftop and freestanding solar energy systems of different sizes on a map of the town to achieve their goal.

In the second round participants will draw cards and roll the dice to explore how community priorities — such as tree protection, historic preservation, or urban redevelopment — alternative zoning approaches, and financial considerations related to land use affect their initial solar development goal and scenario.

How many people do we need to play?
Solar Powering Sunnyside is ideal for groups of 10 to 40.

Who can play?
Solar Powering Sunnyside is designed as a community planning exercise, so it's appropriate for local planners, public officials, residents, business owners, and anyone else that has an interest in how your community may want to use solar energy in the future.

How long does it take to play?
Solar Powering Sunnyside is designed to take between two and four hours.

How much do we need to know about solar energy before the activity?
While having an interest in learning more about the connections between land-use planning and solar energy use is important, participants do not need any special background in energy policy or planning to play.

Contact APA to learn more Solar Powering Sunnyside.

Pilot Workshops

Deep Dive at NPC 2016!

National Planning Conference attendees piloted Solar Powering Sunnyside in Phoenix through the Deep Dive Let's Play! Solar Powering Sunnyside. Participants took on the characters and explored challenges to achieving their solar development goal. They also provided valuable feedback that has been used to refine Solar Powering Sunnyside.

Matthews, North Carolina

On Saturday, May 21, 2016, the Town of Matthews, North Carolina, and the American Planning Association hosted a Solar Powering Sunnyside pilot. The game was played by local planners, community members, and students. Participants set ambitious solar goals for Sunnyside before exploring possible competing community priorities and zoning considerations.

Jupiter, Florida

On Friday, July 22, 2016, planners from across Florida's Treasure Coast gathered in Jupiter, Florida, to play Solar Powering Sunnyside. The event was co-hosted by APA Florida's Treasure Coast Section and the Town of Jupiter, and participants seemed to relish the opportunities for friendly debate embedded in the game.