Exponential increases are on the horizon for electric vehicle (EV) ownership and college and university campuses across the country can start preparing now. The increasing frequency of commutes in plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), along with the changing car preferences of students, staff, and faculty, will begin to strain universities’ inventories of charging stations if campuses do not plan ahead.
This issue was addressed head-on in a session for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Fall 2023 conference, with the Energy and Sustainability practice group from Brailsford & Dunlavey’s (B&D) presentation entitled “Preparing for the Electric Vehicle Boom.” B&Ders Madisen Clark and Katie Lutton highlighted the striking forecasts for electric vehicle ownership this decade, moving from less than 1% of vehicles on the road in the US in 2022 to 12% by 2030. Clark and Lutton then explained what is driving the increase in EV adoption and how universities can plan for this significant external change.
The 12-fold increase in EVs on the road is fueled by many forces, including monetary incentives such as Federal and State tax rebates for the purchase of new and used EVs, perks like access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, the approaching cost parity of EV ownership to internal combustion engine (ICE) ownership, the increasing number of options on the market (make and models), and in some states, legislation requiring the halting of ICE sales (e.g. California’s 2035 phase-out).
To ease the planning process for colleges and universities, B&D’s Energy and Sustainability team created a spreadsheet calculator tool that combines college- or university-based inputs with the National Renewable Energy Lab’s (NREL) regional PEV forecasts and ratio of PEVs to public charging stations. The calculator also takes into account the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) forecasted growth in all light-duty vehicles and provides special guidance based on the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system for residential vehicle charging. After plugging in the regional and institution-based inputs, the tool computes how many charging stations will likely be needed to meet campus community demand levels in 2025 and 2030. Instead of spending hours researching the appropriate number of EV charging stations to invest in, schools can simply spend 15-30 minutes with the user-friendly tool. Those who attended the AASHE conference in the fall can view the presentation and calculator on AASHE’s platform here (ensure you are logged into the platform first). Others are welcome to access the presentation and tool on B&D’s Box drive.
“The information shared demystifies how colleges and universities can prepare for this external change,” said B&D’s Madison Clark. “I’m confident that those who use our tool will feel good about its accessibility and ease of use. Knowing the appropriate amount of charging infrastructure for their campuses will cross a big to-do off their list and allow them to take the next steps in expanding their charging assets.”