Workplace EV Charging: Why Facility Managers Need More Options
by Serena Xu
June 20, 2018
In an increasingly electrified world, companies looking to attract and maintain top talent will need to meet onsite electric vehicle charging expectations to foster a productive, satisfying and sustainable working environment. Responding to top-down policy directives, facility managers will be responsible for facilitating EV charging in the workplace and will need to navigate cost uncertainty when working with new solutions while accommodating changes in driver behavior. Facility professionals can rise to this challenge and can incorporate related technologies to improve workplace experience.
Why the fixed EV charging vs. mobile EV charging debate matters
To meet employee needs, facility managers can use two different EV charging technology paths: fixed EV charging stations and mobile EV charging. These options aren’t mutually exclusive; in fact, fixed charging solutions and mobile charging solutions often complement one another. While the fixed infrastructure route is the most common baseline, it can be an increasingly challenging system to maintain. Fixed EV charging stations are permanent investments that require physical construction and expensive sunk costs, so judiciously evaluating your options is key when expanding capacity.
Increased costs: Time-intensive permitting and expensive utility bills from fixed EV charging stations can introduce additional headaches for facility managers. Not only will they see higher energy costs from increased electricity demand, they will also face service charges from using electricity when it is most expensive over the course of the workday. On top of that, utility infrastructure may need to be upgraded to accommodate the facility’s increased electricity requirements.
Compliance considerations: Beyond permitting and other construction planning, facility managers interested in providing EV charging at the office must ensure they maintain the correct ratio of accessible parking spots as required by Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. For campuses with space limitations, fixed EV chargers may require a disruptive reconfiguration of the parking lot to maintain ADA compliance.
Logistics issues: Operational complications pose a concern to facility managers. Fixed EV charging stations require EV drivers to share limited parking spots, leading to spot squatting, swapping and reduced productivity values of employees who are anxiously competing for their next charge. On average, each EV driving employee spends 30 minutes a day switching parking spots to access fixed EV charging stations. For companies with 200 EVs charging in a day, this can lead to $1 million in productivity losses annually. When employees leave their cars charging longer than needed, facilities also face low utilization rates and reduce the ROI of their charging assets.
Sunk investment: The permanent nature of fixed EV charging stations means investments are final. For commercial tenants, building on-site charging infrastructure becomes a sunk cost once a lease ends and the company moves to a new campus. Facility upgrades can also reduce fixed charging accessibility if the station location is impacted by the building plans.
Why wheels – mobile EV charging for a happy workplace
Fixed stations are an important foundation for EV charging infrastructure, but mobile EV charging adds a crucial flexible component to your solutions arsenal. Mobile EV charging services can alleviate headaches for facility managers by removing the drawbacks of fixed EV charging stations. Chargers that utilize mobile energy storage are highly-utilized assets that can easily move between vehicles, offering companies a lower cost, flexible alternative to the intensive permitting and construction processes required by fixed EV charging stations. With EV charging on wheels, facility managers have more options to test the usage rate of a charger in a particular location before investing time and budget towards utility upgrades or interconnection. Plus, energy storage-based systems can lower costs by charging the core battery technology while utility demand and prices are low.
Meeting the future of EV demand requires electrification beyond the grid. Ultimately, the right electric vehicle charging solution is not a matter of “either/or” but rather the “where” and “why” for different options. This overview is the first in a series of deep dives on workplace EV charging challenges, so stay tuned for more content on these important considerations.
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