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NSW Climate and Energy Action

Electric vehicle ready buildings

Making buildings EV ready refers to the process of retrofitting an existing building with the electrical infrastructure needed to connect electric vehicle (EV) supply equipment (EVSE) to allow EV charging.

It involves identifying the building’s maximum electricity demand, the number of charging points that may be installed (now and in the future), the likely costs and funding sources, and any approvals that need to be granted. 

If you would like to know more, watch the recording of our EV ready buildings webinar, held on 12 May 2022. The session takes you through the information resources and discusses suitable approaches based on case studies as well as other programs and initiatives the NSW Government is leading to help prepare for the increase in EV drivers on our roads.

Why is it important?

The world is turning away from internal combustion engines (ICE) towards EVs. Almost one in 10 cars sold globally are electric, and sales of EVs in Australia tripled in 2021. Consumers not only want to save on their vehicle costs by purchasing an EV, but they also want to directly reduce their impact on climate change and improve air quality.

One of the biggest concerns for potential EV owners is the availability of EV charging. There is an overwhelming preference to charge at home overnight or at workplaces during the day because this is where cars are already parked. 

Many buildings are not yet ready for EV charging and will need to install appropriate infrastructure to deliver the most convenient and practical charging option.

Collective vs. individual approach

The approach to making buildings EV ready is usually driven by early-adopting individuals, or otherwise proactively by a collective.     

Residential

Individual approach:  

  • Incremental upgrades each time someone asks for an EV charger.
  • Initially simple, but installation within the whole complex costs more in the long run.  
  • Possible higher costs to those who install charging later and becomes increasingly difficult to manage. 

Collective approach: 

  • Future proof your building by proactively taking strategic action to provide the electrical infrastructure which will support expansion and connection of additional EVSE as demand grows.
 
Commercial

Individual approach: 

  • Tenancies that wish to install EV charging for their fleets.  
  • Investments have limited benefit as they are only accessible to the occupier.

Collective approach:

  • Owner-led investment to get ahead of the game and install EV charging infrastructure.  
  • Adds value to your building and attracts tenants with EV fleets.
 
 

A proactive collective approach is more likely to be fair to all and cheaper in the long run, however, can cost more up front to make the building EV ready.

Costing your upgrade

Use this tool to understand the estimated cost of retrofitting EV infrastructure for your building as well as any related infrastructure upgrades. This is to be used as a guide only and you should seek your own advice on exact costings.

Make sure you have read through the process for converting your building before you start calculations. Some buildings are already EV ready, whilst in other buildings costings may vary substantially to provide appropriate and fair EV charging to all who need it. 
 

Engaging a supplier

Once you have determined which approach you will use to install EV charging infrastructure you can reach out to a supplier to help you get started. 

The 2 options for engaging suppliers are:  

  • obtain quotes for turnkey solutions from EV charging operators  
  • appoint independent electricians or contractors.  

EV charging operators

A single party is awarded the entire contract, usually with affiliated subcontractors.  

Advantages: 

  • There is only one accountable party to manage.  
  • EV charging operators are more likely to have experience in EV-specific design and construction, especially on complex projects, involving concrete trenching, coring and repair work.   
  • EV operators will often offer preliminary advice and even a quote as complementary service.  
  • They may offer billing and charging management services as part of their package. 

Disadvantages: 

  • You may have to pay a premium for this service.   

Independent electrical contractors

Multiple vendors are appointed to carry out different project tasks. 

Advantages: 

  • Your incumbent electrician is familiar with the building.  
  • Potentially more cost-effective.   
  • Greater flexibility as you are not locked into a single vendor.  
  • Allows you to use contractors that you know and trust.  
  • You are able to select the best vendor for a given project component and have more control over the solution.   

Disadvantages: 

  • Increased contact points may lead to risks in the integration and maintenance of the separate systems.   
  • Additional time required to become familiar with the technology.  
  • Challenge of balancing availability and decision making amongst multiple contractors.

As more electrical contractors become familiar with EV charging technology, the risks of appointing non-specialist independent contractors will reduce.  

It is worth having an initial discussion with your current electrical contractor about EV charging options and their prior installation experience.  

Safety precautions

Fire safety recommendations: 

  • The fire safety of EVs and EV chargers need to be considered, just like any vehicle or electrical assets.  
  • The premises should engage the services of a suitably qualified electrician who can be on call to respond to isolate power in the event of an emergency. 
  • Signage should be: 
    • provided at all entry points to the carpark indicating the presence of electric vehicle chargers 
    • constructed of all-weather fade resistant material with red lettering not less than 25mm high with a contrasting-coloured background. 
  • A block plan that meets the needs of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) should be provided. This block plan should be located within the Fire Control Centre or Fire Control Room if one exists, or adjacent to the Fire Detection Control and Indicating Equipment (FDCIE) if one exists, otherwise at the main entry point to the carpark or building. The block plan should indicate: 
    • where electric vehicle charging points are located,  
    • where points to isolate power to the electric vehicle chargers are located,  
    • procedures to be undertaken in the event of a fire to isolate power to the electric vehicle chargers, including who to contact to arrange this. 
    • The contact details of a suitably qualified electrician as referenced in item 1 above. 
  • Adjacent to the above block plan, and on or adjacent to all sprinkler and hydrant block plans, should be clear signage indicating the presence of electric vehicle chargers and any other hazards. 

For more information on fire safety in buildings please visit our fire safety in buildings web page

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