Why Green Buildings discourage the adoption of EV’s

The Importance of Workplace Charging

Workplace Charging in action

Workplace Charging in action

A key driver to EV adoption is workplace charging. Workplaces that have EV charging facilities are reported to see twenty times the usual EV adoption rate. The reason is clear, our top destination is work. Going to the mall in a car is great, but for work, a car is often a necessity.

One would think that Green Buildings and Green Cars went hand-in-hand. The reality is that new buildings often do not provide EV charging facilities, and its by no accident they don’t. More about that later.

LEED Certification – the Green Building Certification

LEED logo

LEED logo

LEED is a certification program that certifies commercial buildings based upon their energy efficiency. There are several degrees of certifications. Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Reading up on LEED I discovered LEED awards points towards building certification for installing EV charging stations!!

Awesome I thought, I work in a LEED Gold Certified office building. I felt for sure that the property managers, clearly energy conscious minded, would be very receptive to the proposal to add EV charging to the building. My enquiries bore no fruit, I was told that not only would the property managers not install EV charging stations today, they would probably never do so (in other words, don’t ask again). Hmmm… That was unexpected.

LEED 2014 Platinum Logo

LEED 2014 Platinum Logo

Several new office buildings are under construction close to where I work in Franklin TN. I began to notice that at LEED certified buildings they often allocated a dozen or so parking spaces for “Low Emitting Fuel Efficient Vehicles”, but never a EV charging station to be had. Not one, despite the fact LEED points can be earned. Hmmm… That was unexpected.

I befriended a solar installer at a local EV meet several years ago, and he changed jobs to work for NRG/eVgo in Nashville. We met for lunch and he asked me for leads he could follow up on to offer eVgo managed charging stations at local businesses. I suggested the office building I worked at. He immediately asked me to suggest another lead, he explained that he had had no luck with property managers. He concluded that an EV charging station is just one more thing to manage, and property managers simply weren’t interested. Hmmm… That was unexpected.

I started to conclude that this was more than simple ignorance, or ambivalence exhibited by architects and property managers, there seemed to exist deliberate and active opposition to the installation of EV charging stations.

Hmmm… That was unexpected.

What gives with Green Office Spaces not supporting EV’s?

The reason that many modern ‘green buildings’ don’t have and seem to actively resist installing EV charging stations is quite simple.

EV charging stations use electricity.

Architecture 2030 Logo

Architecture 2030 Logo

Architects in the US have been challenged to “Architect 2030”. The goal for which is to reduce the EUI of buildings they design by at least 20%; the more the better. EUI is Energy Use Intensity, which is calculated as the number of kWh consumed per square foot per year. Adding EV charging stations will drive electricity consumption up, so why would an architect specify them if the goal is to reduce electricity demand per square foot?

Energy Reduction Goals by Building Type

Energy Reduction Goals by Building Type – Click to Enlarge

Reduction in EUI in Germany since 1950.

Reduction in EUI in Germany since 1950. Click image to enlarge.

The 2030 goal is great. 70% of electricity used in the US is used by buildings. Germany for instance has reduced its EUI from 500 kWh/sq meter/year in 1950 to less than 100 kWh/Sq Meter/Year today.

LEED certification encourages the use of efficient HVAC systems, better insulation, energy efficient LED lighting etc. Sure you can get a point or three for adding an EV charging station, but why would you? You can get the same number of LEED certification points for designating parking spaces for Fuel Efficient Vehicles as you can for an EV charging space. Cheaper to install, cheaper to maintain and they don’t impact the electricity consumption of buildings. Parking spaces it is.

Thanks to the laudable and well meaning energy efficiency programs for the design and construction of energy efficient buildings we find that building efficiency improvements are pitted against transportation efficiency improvements. Specifically against plug-in cars. (By contrast the Toyota Prius is encouraged, by premium parking spaces).

Will LEED Version 4 fix it?



A light at the end of the tunnel is that the latest version of the LEED certification program, version 4, won’t award points for simply providing parking spaces, instead EV charging will need to be installed to gain those points. But the simple fact that EV charging stations use electricity is still be a deterrent to overall energy efficiency goals. Maybe we will transition from active resistance to ambivalence. At least it’s a step in the right direction.

This entry was posted in Electric Car, eVgo, Nissan LEAF, Opinion, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Green Buildings discourage the adoption of EV’s

  1. qole says:

    Simple fix: exclude electricity used by EV charge stations from the building’s EUI numbers.

    • jpwhitehome says:

      Excluding energy used by EV charging stations would require they be on a separate meter, or measured in some way (maybe by a charging network provider). This assumes such an exclusion would be acceptable practice.

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