What electric vehicle charging means for building design

What electric vehicle charging means for building design

Electric Vehicle Charging

With electric vehicles set to replace diesel and petrol cars by 2040, the planning and design of projects must now ensure buildings can deal with the unprecedented demand.

Electric cars have almost doubled in popularity in the UK over the past year, and sales will continue their steep trajectory as the industry prepares for the phase-out of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles – of which plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEV) make up the vast majority – represented 5.8% of the total market for new cars in May, a record for the UK.

The government is aiming to ensure that almost every car and van on UK roads will be zero-emission by 2050. This policy ambition, shared by many nations and automotive manufacturers, is aimed at creating cleaner air in our cities.

Roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a public health problem that needs addressing urgently, and more electric vehicles (EVs) are seen as a key way of tackling this. Through tax incentives, grants and funding, the UK government hopes to stimulate interest in EVs, sales of which are now increasing faster than their combustion-engine counterparts.

Rapid growth in electric vehicle sales will require vehicle-charging infrastructure to match. We will have to change the way we refuel our vehicles, and service stations will no longer be the only place to do this.

Whether at work, rest or play, we spend a large proportion of our life in buildings: a couple of hours shopping; nine hours at our place of work; or 12 hours relaxing at home. Our vehicles can be charged at all these locations.

As a result, significant charging infrastructure will be needed in various building sectors. These charging-point capacities are likely to lead to large load increases in buildings if we do not design appropriate infrastructure. With creative design, we can mitigate these increases to reduce demand on the UK electrical infrastructure.

Moving to EVs will require a shift in the way we think about how we refuel vehicles. Most probably, we will be plugging our vehicles in overnight and charging them when we arrive at work. Charging facilities at leisure destinations may not prove as popular and necessary, as the vast majority of charging would be done where we are stationary for the longest.

All of the above assumes that, by 2040, we will still own cars; autonomous vehicle technology may change our approach to vehicle ownership and, hence, car charging. This emphasises the importance of planning our future, by managing typical building loads that do not account for vehicle charging currently.

Gleave QS