EV Charging Infrastructure: Understanding Your City's Building Code Requirements

The future of transportation is electric. As a result, the necessary charging infrastructure will be critical to support the growth in electric vehicles (EVs) on the road.

According to several surveys, at least 52 percent of new vehicle sales in the United States will be all-electric by 2030. As a result, more and more cities and states require installing EV charging stations as part of new building codes.

Cities in 10 states have already implemented EV charging building code requirements, including Arizona, California, Washington, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Florida, and Utah. Orlando became the latest city to pass such an ordinance in August 2021, mandating that 10 percent of parking spaces at all commercial and industrial developments be EV-capable.

In some cities, a minimum of 20 percent of parking spaces at hotels, apartment buildings, and other structures must be electric vehicle-capable. Furthermore, each sector needs to reserve two percent of its parking spaces exclusively for charging electric vehicles. Whether you are a contractor or landlord, it is vital to understand the regulations in your area to ensure your property is ready to play its part in the rising popularity of electric vehicles.

What Are EV-Ready Building Codes?

EV-ready building codes provide states and local governments with a low-cost method of encouraging consumers to purchase and lease electric vehicles.

These codes set out requirements for EV infrastructure needed for upcoming construction projects, such as electrical power and prewiring to enable future EV charging station installations.

In response to local EV market trends and community climate goals, states and municipalities across the country have developed EV-ready building codes.

What Are The EV-Ready Code Options?

Building codes for EV-ready communities have been established by state and local governments around the country, with requirements tailored to each municipality's needs. At least one parking space per residence must have EVSE-ready or EVCA-compatible outlets for one- and two-family dwellings with dedicated off-street parking.

The percentage of EV-capable parking spaces required for multifamily and commercial properties is calculated based on total parking spaces. For instance, five percent of parking spaces must be EV-capable EV-compatible lots with more than ten spaces).

Below are three primary options for EV infrastructure.

  1. EV Capable: EV Capable requires projects to provide for the future installation of charging stations. A dedicated circuit should be installed on the electrical panel for future electric vehicle charging points. EV Capable does not provide any actual chargers. It does, however, provide property owners a relatively easy way to later install charging stations since all of the underground and electrical work is already completed. The International Building Code (IBC), a building code adopted by many states, defines EV Capable as “a dedicated parking space with electrical panel capacity and space for a branch circuit that supports the EV parking space that is not less than 40-ampere and 208/240-volt and equipped with raceways, both underground and surface mounted, to enable the future installation of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).”

  2. EV Ready: Build an electrical panel with raceways to terminate in a 240-volt outlet or junction box. The IBC defines it as “A designated parking space which is provided with a dedicated branch circuit that is not less than 40-ampere and 208/240-volt assigned for electric vehicle supply equipment terminating in a receptacle or junction box located in close proximity to the proposed location of the EV parking space.” EV Ready takes a single step forward and requires the installation of a receptacle for the purpose of EV charging. EV Ready does not, however, require EVSE, or charging stations. Instead, it provides an outlet to which EV drivers can plug in their own portable charger.

  3. EV Installed: EV installed requires the full installation of a charging station. Unlike the previous two tiers, EV Installed includes the EVSE, which then allows EVs to be charged at the site. Over the years, states and local jurisdictions have incorporated EV Installed into their codes and regulations as EV adoption increases. For example, the city of San Luis Obispo adopted "EV Installed" into their zoning regulations in 2019. The ordinance requires up to 10% of parking spaces to be outfitted with charging stations.

Why Do We Need EV-Ready Building Codes?

Electric vehicles will replace millions of gasoline cars in the next few decades, requiring millions of EV charging stations at homes, offices, rest stops, and shopping malls.

Many state and local governments have adopted ambitious electrification targets to increase the penetration of electric vehicles in the U.S. and unlock EVs' economic and environmental benefits. The leading reasons we need EV-ready building codes are summarized below.

New Model Building Code Ensures Low Installation Costs of Chargers

The electric vehicle market is increasing, and many states and local governments are eager to encourage EV adoption. In order to reduce the cost of charging stations, the new model building codes will guide site engineers to prewire a building so that it can accommodate charging stations in the future without incurring high expenditures.

For example, Denver set a goal of electrifying 30 percent of its vehicles by 2030, adopting one of the country's most ambitious EV building codes, including EV infrastructure requirements for 100 percent of newly constructed parking spaces at multi-unit dwellings (MUDs).

The development of EV building codes is one of the simplest and most affordable ways for local governments to promote vehicle electrification.

Having mandatory EV requirements incorporated into local codes will enable the charging infrastructure to spread in the future as neighborhoods grow and develop. It will reduce charger installations' costs and allow public and private investments to cover a more significant number of EV charging stations.

Counties and Municipalities Can Use This Code to Reduce Carbon Emissions

As electric vehicles become more mainstream, state and local governments rely more and more on building energy codes to curb greenhouse gas emissions. By integrating EV-ready provisions into construction plans, officials will have an easy way to ensure upcoming buildings are ready for vehicle charging - and reduce carbon emissions.

Since 2017, Colorado has more than doubled the number of electric vehicles on the road. The state is aiming to have 940,000 EVs on the road by 2030 (about 15% of total light-duty vehicles) and aspires to be 100% electric in the future. For Colorado to meet its climate and Zero-Emission Vehicle goals, EV infrastructure building codes are essential policies.

Electric Vehicles are the Future of the Auto Industry

Besides government targets and policies, every major automobile manufacturer has announced a plan to electrify a significant portion of their fleet over the next three to five years.

There will be over 100 EV models available in the United States in the next five years, including over 20 electric SUVs and pickup trucks from major automakers including Ford, GM, Mercedes, Porsche, Rivian, and many others.

An EV-Ready Building Can Help With a LEED Certificate

Many buildings aim to achieve LEED certification. With EV charging stations that are networked and EV Ready construction, your properties can earn LEED points, differentiating them from the competition.

If you want to earn LEED points, your EV charging stations must support Level 2 charging, be connected to a network, be capable of supporting time-of-use charging, and be able to accommodate universal EV charging connectors. In addition to LEED certification, you may also receive several attractive incentives, including expedited review, density and height bonuses, tax credits, grants, and others. A more significant number of charging stations encourages more people to drive electric cars, resulting in more LEED points. Alternatively, a building can earn LEED points when 10 percent or more occupants use eco-friendly transportation like EVs.

These requirements are already mandatory for contractors in EV Ready states like California, Colorado, or New York. If you live in another state, you should prepare to meet these requirements by learning about installing and designing EV charging stations.

Why Developers Can Save Money By Installing EV Charging Infrastructure During New Construction

Owners of buildings that aren't EV Ready may need to retrofit, add electrical capacity, and run EV charging cables. The process can be costly and time-consuming.

These processes can take several weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars. This delays charging availability, interfere with other lucrative projects and compromises people's ability to drive electric vehicles. A better approach is to build an EV-ready enterprise from the ground up. Here's why; Studies have shown that EV-ready charging infrastructure is significantly less expensive to install during new construction than a building retrofit. For a parking lot with ten total spaces and two charging stations, the estimated EV infrastructure costs are $920 per charger during brand-new construction. In contrast, the price compares to $3,710 per charger for a retrofit, mainly because of trenching, demolition, and additional permitting costs.

EVs are the Future

Electric vehicles are the future, and with the number of electric vehicles on the road rising and demand for convenient, reliable EV charging stations growing, it pays for you and your business to prepare now for the driving needs of the future. As a property owner, contractor, or developer, not meeting the requirements can be costly. This is why it's better to be aware of all the requirements for EV charging infrastructure in your building in advance.

Make sure you’re choosing the right EV charging stations for your business by downloading our EV Charging Buyers Guide. Interested in exploring how EV charging stations can take your business to the next level? Book a free consultation with us to get started on your EV charging journey! Our experts are here to help guide you every step of the way.

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About the Author

Robb Monkman is a mission-driven entrepreneur who is passionate about making the world a better place. Robb is the Managing Partner of Charge Up USA where he is making an impact by accelerating the transition to electric vehicles (EV) and other electric technologies. Robb is a serial entrepreneur with experience launching multiple hardware and software products at early-stage companies. Robb is an active angel investor and advisor helping companies that are making a positive impact in clean energy, electrification, and IoT.

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