Project Planning & Design (PPD) focuses on the preliminary design of sites and buildings. You should be able to demonstrate an understanding of and abilities in design concepts, sustainability/environmental design, universal design, and other forms of governing codes and regulations. 

Project Planning & Design Details:

  • Number of items: 100
  • Test duration: 4 hr 5 min
  • Allowed break time: 45 min
  • Total appointment time: 5 hr

Preparing for Project Planning & Design? NCARB has created a full-length, scored practice exam specific to Project Planning & Design now available for free in the Practice Exam Dashboard in your NCARB Record if you have ARE eligibilities. You can also find more details and suggested references in our ARE 5.0 Guidelines and test prep video series.


PPD includes sections on the following content areas: 

  • Environmental Conditions & Context 
    • Determine location of building and site improvements based on site analysis 
    • Determine sustainable principles to apply to design 
    • Determine impact of neighborhood context on the project design
  • Codes & Regulations 
    • Apply zoning and environmental regulations to site and building design 
    • Apply building codes to building design 
    • Integrate multiple codes to a project design 
  • Building Systems, Materials, & Assemblies 
    • Determine mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems 
    • Determine structural systems 
    • Determine special systems such as acoustics, communications, lighting, security, conveying, and fire suppression 
    • Determine materials and assemblies to meet programmatic, budgetary, and regulatory requirements 
  • Project Integration of Program & Systems
    • Determine building configuration 
    • Integrate building systems in the project design 
    • Integrate program requirements into a project design 
    • Integrate environmental and contextual conditions in the project design
  • Project Costs & Budgeting 
    • Evaluate design alternatives based on the program 
    • Perform cost evaluation 
    • Evaluate cost considerations during the design process