Clive MacKinnon, a project director with ABM Technical Solutions in the United Kingdom, considers the technical and operational challenges that are typically encountered by facilities managers overseeing EV charging installations.
The electric vehicle revolution is here and EV charging is set to become an expected part of all built environments. From this year, large buildings and workplaces in the United Kingdom will be required to install electric vehicle charge points under new regulations that will see at least 145,000 extra charge points installed across England each year as the country prepares for the cessation of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.
In February 2022, there were over 420,000 pure-electric cars reported to be on UK roads, and more than 780,000 plug-in models when including hybrids (PHEVs). Demand for electric vehicle (EV) chargers is at an all-time high and in a world where convenience is king, businesses should be considering how and when they install them into their facility. Installing EV charge points also contributes to businesses meeting green ambitions; and of course, there is an opportunity to create profit from the chargers themselves.
As all sectors work to meet demand and take advantage of the potential commercial benefits of the environmental movement, the facilities management industry needs to be prepared to help clients ride the upwards curve of that growth. While making the change may feel like a big undertaking, understanding the key considerations and securing the right partners will allow for a successful experience in the EV charging pace.
It’s important to ask what the technical considerations are when it comes to installing chargers. As one of the only facilities solutions businesses offering EV charging installation and maintenance, our technical business has nearly 20,000 installations under its belt globally. Based on that extensive knowledge and the granular feasibility studies which are undertaken on every site, it might be instructive to take account of the following constraints and considerations:
- Electrical capacity on-site: The capacity of the site determines the number of chargers which can be installed and whether there are additional electrical load requirements. Additional circuits, panels, meters, and transformers might be needed, so it is essential for an expert to evaluate this.
- Location: The location of the chargers will determine whether major works or infrastructure change needs to be done to bring power from buildings to the site. Likewise, considering how to preserve and protect natural habitats is essential – as part of our service, we can safely relocate trees for example. The choice of location could cause less disruption to the people using your building in some cases, and so expert advice is necessary.
- Type of chargers: Depending on the capacity available, there are a range of chargers available; and individual sites will need to decide what is best for their occupants. For example, fast chargers, which may be of interest for certain sites, require more capacity.
- WIFI or Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) signal: Chargers have a connection requirement for app payments. Some buildings and workplaces may have this in place already, but it should be tested during a thorough feasibility study.
- Chargeable or non-chargeable units: Chargers can be utilised for non-payment if required depending on what the individual needs are for the site. For example, individual sites may not want to charge staff for using the charge points. In this case a separate fob would be provided to allow them to charge for free, while an app would be set up for visitors who would pay.
- Turning a profit: The units can be set up to match the current energy tariff rate, or at a lower or higher rate. This means there is an option of ensuring the electrical consumption will not affect the electrical bills and whether they would like to make a profit on the facility.
- Permissions: Some installations will require engineering, electrical permits, and town planning approvals. This needs to be considered within the feasibility study and handled by an expert supplier.
Helping to support the UK’s requirement to transition to 100 per cent net zero by 2050 through broadening access to EV charging points is a major ambition at ABM and so it is essential we can offer customers the best possible experience and advice.
As part of our approach, we have developed and implemented a model for client premises that includes the following:
- Extensive feasibility study: Answering to all the above points, this should study traffic patterns, electrical infrastructure needs and compliance issues, parking operations, and sustainability impact, to make sure the EV charging implementation achieves individual goals.
- Technology excellence: Partnering with innovators in the field of electric vehicle charging equipment to help procure the right technology for each facility, maximise the lifespan of the asset, stay integrated with apps and mobile technology, and meet growing demand for fast charging.
- Maintenance as well as installation: Who will help to stay ahead of wear and tear with cost-effective preventative maintenance, including proactive repairs, software monitoring, green cleaning of equipment, and complete life cycle management.