In 2022, electric vehicles made up 5.6% of all new vehicle sales in the U.S., a jump four times the market share they claimed in 2019. The growing number of electric vehicles on the road comes hand-in-hand with a growing need for available charging infrastructure equipped to power these vehicles.

EBI's Director of Architecture and Engineering Paul Roberts sat down with Connect CRE to discuss due diligence considerations commercial real estate developers should keep in mind when incorporating charging facilities into their properties.

Q: What are some of the key due diligence requirements when incorporating electric vehicle (EV) charging stations onto existing properties? How do these differ from the due diligence checklist for new developments?

A: Existing electrical and site surveys, site planning, permitting and zoning research, and utility coordination are critical due diligence components when it comes to installing EV charging stations onto existing properties.

Due diligence is focused on best use for the property, utility access, site locations and acquiring jurisdictional approvals. This kind of due diligence differs from new developments when it comes to verifying routing and availability of existing electrical power sources to meet the parameters.

Q: Do different types of projects (multifamily, industrial, office) bring different requirements in terms of due diligence?

A: Location and types of chargers are a big consideration when starting the due diligence process. For example, convenient store customers will have shorter stays and want a fast charging option like DC or level 3 chargers. These types of chargers usually need their own utility connection which takes more time and costs more to install.

Multifamily, office, industrial and some retail locations where customers stay for longer periods of time will be okay with a slower charge time, like with AC or level 2 chargers, and may be able to utilize existing utilities, allowing for faster and less expensive installations.

Q: Does EBI recommend that developers and property owners begin the due diligence process early in the entitlement process for their projects?

A: Yes. Due diligence is highly important during the planning process to help the client understand what it will take to complete the project, such as location planning, feasibility, the permitting and entitlements process, timelines, and costs.

Knowing what the project will entail prior to the start will ensure deadlines and budgets are adhered to and can also help to identify any potential red flags. We encourage all our clients, even if they are just thinking there might be an option to install EV charging at a later date on a new development, to plan ahead. Having locations identified, additional capacity in utilities available and any underground work completed as part of the original design will save time and money during future installation.

Q: Can site design incorporating EV charging be handled by most civil engineering firms or does it require specialized expertise?

A: Site design can be handled by most civil engineering firms, but electrical engineering is also required to fully design EV charging stations. A full-service consulting firm working directly with EV hardware vendors helps get our clients from site evaluation to project closeout efficiently and seamlessly.

Q: Adding EV charging stations to projects would seem to be a completely new demand for developers and owners. Is there a prior frame of reference they can draw upon, or do they need to be walked through the process from the beginning?

A: In addition to any legislative requirements and the attraction of EV charging funding provided by the government, developers and owners must see the value proposition of adding EV charging. They know the number of electric vehicles on the road is increasing day by day and eventually their customers or tenants will be demanding them to have these resources implemented.

EV charging will help property owners draw in more customers and tenants to their properties. They need to be educated on the process and understand how to navigate it efficiently. This is where a full-service consulting firm comes in.