Electric vehicles (EVs) are here, and adoption rates are on the rise. Last year, EVs comprised 2 percent of total vehicle sales, up from about 1.2 percent in 2017. These numbers are encouraging, but they’re still just a drop in the bucket compared to the sales of gas-powered vehicles. One thing standing in the way of wider adoption is infrastructure, and EV-ready building codes could lend an assist in this area.
- EV-ready building codes are designed to ensure that new construction projects have the infrastructure necessary to accommodate charging stations.
- These building codes can help give a wider range of people access to EV chargers.
- In so doing, they can help make EVs a practical choice for a broader swath of consumers.
The right home for an EV
If you own an EV or are thinking about buying one, there’s one issue that you’re likely to consider: Where will I get the vehicle charged? Public charging stations are available, but given how long the process can take, it’s more convenient to charge at home.
A home charging station can make EV ownership easier, but it requires the right infrastructure. (Photo: Nissan)
To make that happen, a charge point needs to be installed. If your residence isn’t prewired to accommodate this, you’ll need to hire an electrician to run conduit and wire and install an additional circuit, and this can be costly. If you live in a multi-family building such as an apartment complex, you’ll need to appeal to the property owner if you want a charging station installed. If the building isn’t appropriately prewired, the property owner may be unwilling to meet your request, due to the cost.
Dollars and sense
If you’re installing a charger, it costs a lot less to set one up in a building that has been prewired to accommodate this appliance. One report put together by the County of San Francisco offers insight into this. It shows that the cost of installing two chargers in a facility with 10 parking spaces is about $920 per charger if the building has already been prewired to accommodate these appliances. To retrofit the same structure, it would cost about $3,710 per charger.
EV-ready and good to go
EV-ready building codes can help property owners avoid the cost of having to retrofit buildings to accommodate charging stations. These codes set parameters for EV infrastructure requirements on new construction projects, and they ensure that the circuits necessary to accommodate a charger are preinstalled in new homes. This can make charger installation easier and less expensive if the property owner decides to add one further down the road.
Without proper prewiring, the cost of installing a charge point increases exponentially. (Photo: Chevrolet)
Let’s vote on it
Certain communities — such as California’s Palo Alto and Denver, Colorado — have already established EV-ready building codes. A group called the Energy-Efficient Codes Coalition (EECC) is working to help make sure these codes (along with others designed to improve energy efficiency) are more widely implemented across the country.
Right now, the group is focused mainly on informing voters about a ballot that will be held this month by local governments nationwide. The ballot will establish parameters for America’s model energy code, which is called the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The IECC creates minimum efficiency standards for new construction. It covers everything from a structure’s walls and floors to its ceilings and air leakage, and it governs the infrastructure that can make a building EV-ready.
A model to follow
The IECC is viewed as being America’s model energy code for one reason: Building codes are laws created by each state, and there isn’t a national building code. Every three years, local state officials vote on proposed changes to the IECC; this vote follows a set three-year timetable regardless of when a code was adopted by a state. The next vote takes place this month, and you can learn more about it via the EECC website.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Buildings currently being constructed will last for years into the future. EV-ready building codes can help make sure this future is one that’s built to accommodate electric cars.