The surge of new and affordable electric vehicles (EV) coming to market has triggered waves of changing tenant and consumer behaviors. A recent report by NMHC/Grace Hill found that 27% of renters are interested in locations with available EV charging stations and would pay $30.00 more per month for this amenity. For retail and office properties, EV charging is also shifting from an amenity to a revenue stream.

Beyond attracting tenants and shoppers or generating revenue, property owners and investors who install electric vehicle charging stations may now take advantage of a growing number of rebates and tax incentives. The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit provides a 30% federal tax credit for installing charging infrastructure in low-income or rural areas, up to $100,000 per item of property. State and local governments are also offering incentives. The California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP) offers incentives for the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure at publicly accessible sites throughout California, and further incentives for installing chargers in disadvantaged communities. An energy consultant can provide energy production review and assist in optimizing design and validating EV charging rates to take advantage of available incentives.

The case for installing EV charging stations has never been stronger, but it’s important to have complete and accurate information about your development site before launching an installation.  Below are four critical steps to lay the groundwork for a successful EV charging project.

Verify Zoning Requirements at Your Local Municipality Regulations around EV charging stations are evolving quickly. Different jurisdictions will have varying zoning regulations and permitting/compliance issues can impact the timeframe of the EV project. It’s important to verify if your project has the necessary electrical infrastructure and paved parking area to support EV charging. Consult with the local Planning Department about any recently adopted or pending EV charging regulations that could impact your development. State laws could expedite the need for local municipalities to adopt EV charging standards. Verify the timeframe in which they will be implementing and enforcing these requirements and if any allowances will be granted for projects that are already approved/in the process of obtaining permits for construction will minimize lost time during implementation.

Confirm Electric Load Capacity EV charging installation requires significant underground work; planning for future electrical capacity and demand is key. Buildings / complexes are generally constructed to provide enough power for their expected use at the time of construction. Adding EV charging may require increased electrical capacity, and faster chargers require greater capacity. Most industry experts agree that installing Level 1 or Level 2 chargers to satisfy today’s demand is shortsighted; anticipating and preparing for future demand is a wiser investment. Most believe that allocating 10 to 20% of parking capacity to EVs is reasonable, depending on occupant interest and demand, incentives, and overall financial outlay.

Integrate MEP Engineering Solutions Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering is an integral part of planning, designing, and executing any EV charging development project. MEP specialists will provide code-compliant electrical framework recommendations based on selected EV charging software and hardware specifications while meeting fire and life safety, energy efficiency, system performance, construction, and operating/maintenance requirements. As MEP systems comprise a significant portion of the operational costs of most charging structure, quality MEP solutions are essential to capital planning and financial analysis.

Conduct an Energy Feasibility Review With so many emerging EV charging technologies in the marketplace, an energy feasibility review is an important step in planning for new development. Such a review may include the following: an evaluation of charging technologies and electrical infrastructures; a comparison of EV software and hardware, network integration, installation requirements, payment schedule, and maintenance; the research of county, state, federal, and utility-level incentive and rebate programs; and electrical consumption and EV utility rate analysis for capital planning. It is prudent to coordinate with the selected EV charging vendor to provide utility load capacity analysis for the project. For those who wish to go green and save money in the long run, it’s worth evaluating renewable energy and energy storage options as they can typically offset the higher electric utility charges associated with EV charging. An accurate energy review helps with cost analysis and a better understanding of return on investment.