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Facilities Managers to Lead the Charge in Expanding EV Charging Stations

Facilities managers need to understand occupant needs and in-house resources to ensure successful charging station installations

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: This PagePt. 2: EV Charging Stations: Avoiding Costly Mistakes

The United States has set a lofty goal of having 50 percent of all vehicles sold be net-zero emitters of greenhouse gases by 2030. The number of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations will need to increase significantly to achieve this goal and meet the growing demand. 

The nation has more than 56,000 EV charging stations, which is enough to sustain the current number of registered EVs. But the nation will need to triple installations rates over the next eight years to support the anticipated number of EVs on the road by 2030. 

For building owners and facilities managers in the nation’s institutional and commercial facilities, the decision on whether, where and when to install EV charging stations around their facilities is complex. Among the factors are the demand among facility visitors and occupants, the number and location of chargers to install and the cost and funding considerations.  

"As with any piece of equipment that's being installed related to electrification or energy efficiency, it can be difficult to plan any capital project, especially EV chargers, which are not a revenue driven installation,” says Dan Colombini, principal with Goldman Copeland, a consulting engineering firm. 

Leading the charge 

The complex challenge of successfully planning, installing and operating EV charging stations around facilities requires a team effort, and building owners and managers are well positioned to lead the effort and work with occupants to ensure success. 

"In terms of planning these things, the person that owns and operates the facility is the key person,” Colombini says. “We recommend those people have their finger on the pulse of what your occupants are driving.” 

Jess Cain, EV practice lead with Kimley-Horn, an engineering, planning and design consulting firm, says other interested parties also can lead the effort. 

“It varies by organization, which sometimes makes it challenging to get to the right person to have the have the conversation,” Cain says. “Most often, it's between the sustainability manager, facility manager and, if there's a fleet associated, the fleet manager.” 

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The EV charging station project team also needs to include a range of other interested parties in the organization. 

"If (facility managers) have planning managers on their staff, we're seeing their involvement,” Cain says. “We are also heavily interacting with sustainability managers, fleet owners and operators and also those that are managing the high-level expenditures — the P&L leaders and procurement — just to understand the timing of the investment and what reoccurring cost might be associated from a data standpoint.” 

Given their daily job responsibilities, facility managers are well-positioned to gather essential data that will help the project team assess the needs and expectations of occupants and visitors related to EV charging stations. 

“They need to understand the needs of the tenants and the folks using those spaces, discussing fleet conversion plans of the folks using the buildings or visiting the buildings,” Cain says. “What does that phasing look like? What type of vehicle do they plan on owning and operating? What does that infrastructure need to look like? Is there some partnership between the building owner, the tenants and the folks visiting to provide that infrastructure or to share the capital expenditure of those upgrades?” 

Facilities managers also can tap into the experience and expertise of in-house engineering staff, among others, to help plan the project. 

“This involves speaking to building engineering staff, operating staff, local utility companies – whoever your electrical provider is — speaking to your electrical engineering team, primarily,” Colombini says. “There could be some sitework involved, too. That group of stakeholders can help you determine the scope of work, the cost, the implications of preparing the facility to accept EV chargers.” 

Cost considerations 

Planning for the arrival of EV charging stations also requires that managers and the project team understand the costs involved. One critical cost revolves around the types of chargers to be installed, which will depend on the needs and expectations of EV users.  

Currently, three levels of EV charging stations are available: type 1, type 2 and type 3. Type 1 chargers are the slowest, while type 3 — also known as DC fast charging or DCFC chargers — can charge an EV's battery most of the way in about an hour. 

"One of the biggest factors in looking at the costs — and something that can swing the estimate wildly — is the existing electrical capacity at the site,” Cain says. “Will the existing electrical infrastructure on this site support the needed charging, whether that's level 2 or DC fast charging. Understanding the demand analysis. 

“What is the dwell time of the vehicles visiting those sites? How long do they have? How much downtime do they have? Is a level 2 adequate, or are DC fast chargers necessary, whether that's for an emergency situation or others?” 

Cain says that understanding the cost and scope of the project must take into account site-specific constraints and features. 

“How long are conduit runs and the associated conductors and cables?” she asks. “What type of resiliency features are they looking for? Does it make sense to couple the EV charging with things like generators, battery storage, solar, some kind of microgrid configuration?” 

Colombini says the local utility can be an important source of information. 

“Obviously, the quantity of the chargers and type of the chargers is important,” Colombini says. “Is the utility company going to provide the power to these things at no cost? There could be a cost associated with that, so reaching out to your utility company is a critical first step. The location of the chargers can obviously drive cost. If they're installed and somehow attached to the building, that's a lot easier than having to dig a trench 200 feet and bury an electric cable to a parking lot location.” 

For managers grappling with cost, scope and a range of unknowns and variables, Colombini says planning EV charging station projects is not unlike planning other projects managers are very familiar with.  

“It’s very similar to planning a project to put new parking lot lighting in,” Colombini says. “I'm installing electrical equipment either on or around my facility. We shouldn't be wrapped up in this being some futuristic thing. This is a power supply to an electrical device. That's all.” 

Continue Reading: EV Charging

Facilities Managers to Lead the Charge in Expanding EV Charging Stations

EV Charging Stations: Avoiding Costly Mistakes

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  posted on 5/17/2024   Article Use Policy

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