Smart Cities

Buildings Need to Cement Their Place in the New World of Electric Mobility

The future of the automobile is no doubt electric. Electric vehicle (EV) sales continue to grow through dedicated EV firms like Tesla and through the release of EV or hybrid vehicles by traditional automotive companies. As adoption goes up prices will gradually come down and as environmental drivers continue to grow we will see EVs take a greater and greater share of the automotive market until they dominate our roads. For this to happen, however, an entirely new infrastructure will have to be put in place, short stops at dedicated fueling stations just don’t fit EV technology. Instead, vehicles will be charged in all the places that drivers spend significant amounts of time, which puts our buildings at the center of the future of mobility. “The number of electric vehicles keeps rising, and urbanization shifts more people into living in multi-dwelling buildings with no parking or charging opportunities. Premises with capabilities to charge vehicles will face even […]

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The future of the automobile is no doubt electric. Electric vehicle (EV) sales continue to grow through dedicated EV firms like Tesla and through the release of EV or hybrid vehicles by traditional automotive companies. As adoption goes up prices will gradually come down and as environmental drivers continue to grow we will see EVs take a greater and greater share of the automotive market until they dominate our roads. For this to happen, however, an entirely new infrastructure will have to be put in place, short stops at dedicated fueling stations just don’t fit EV technology. Instead, vehicles will be charged in all the places that drivers spend significant amounts of time, which puts our buildings at the center of the future of mobility.

“The number of electric vehicles keeps rising, and urbanization shifts more people into living in multi-dwelling buildings with no parking or charging opportunities. Premises with capabilities to charge vehicles will face even stronger demand to provide a place to charge for all consumers,” reads a study by the EV charging experts at Virta Global. “44 million electric vehicles are expected to hit the roads by 2030. Charging will no longer be a nice little side dish, but a key in creating more value for real estate properties.”

Today, the vast majority of EV charging happens in homes and workplaces, where our vehicles are sitting idle the longest. As on-site renewable energy and stationary battery trends develop in our increasingly smart office buildings, that evolving building energy management intelligence can begin to utilize the additional energy storage capacity provided by EVs plugged into the facility. Given that EV battery degradation is dependent on age, capacity throughput, temperature, state of charge and discharge, vehicle-to-building (V2B) interconnection can also be used to optimize EV batteries to reduce degradation. It’s a win for EVs and a win for smart offices that will drive the provision of EV charging from all types of smart building.

Large shopping malls will supply and advertise their availability for low-cost or free EV charging in their parking areas in order to entice retail consumers and benefit from more vehicle battery capacity as more EVs “plug in”. Cinemas, theatres, music and sports arenas will encourage visitors to book their EV charging enabled parking space alongside their event tickets, giving such entertainment facilities a reliable and predictable new revenue stream that ties into cost savings from their building energy management system. Airports and train stations will shift from their current limited capacity and high price parking model to one that encourages more people to leave their EVs when they travel. While dedicated parking facilities could find a new growth potential as dynamic virtual power plants based on dynamic EV battery availability. 

In smart homes and smart multi-tenant residential buildings there is a direct relationship between the return of EVs and the increase of energy demand. As residents drive home and park their EVs at the end of a typical workday, connecting those EVs to the building instantly provides the additional capacity and flexibility to account for the increase of energy consumption from residents arriving home. Nights become relatively reliable times for residential buildings to recover EV and building energy capacity for the morning rush using low-cost electricity from intelligent grids with dynamic pricing mechanisms. Wherever we spend our time there will be buildings fighting for EVs to park in their facility over others, but none of this is possible without the charging infrastructure in place and our buildings are still a long way from that future vision.

“While the requirements for the adoption of eMobility may differ, all actors in the building sector face the same major challenge: Existing infrastructure, with one or several buildings, maybe even on-site energy production, will need to welcome and integrate new charging technology. At the same time, building operators share the overall objective of keeping energy consumption (and thus operational costs) down,” says Jean-Christoph Heyne, Global Head of Future Grids at Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “Escalating costs can be avoided by using renewable energy generated on-site combined with smart charging – and by choosing easily to manage charging infrastructure with familiar tools that follow an established workflow.”

The rapid growth of EVs is forcing building owners and managers to take notice, not only to develop the charging infrastructure to connect more vehicles to the facility but to also accelerate the development of the facility’s internal energy management systems. Only with smart building energy management can owners and managers hope to take advantage of the V2B opportunities, which will, in turn, drive demand for on-site generation and storage to reap the benefits of a complete system. Building-to-building and building-to-grid energy systems then become more feasible and attractive in an increasingly connected and dynamic power landscape. EV trends are not waiting for buildings to be ready, it’s happening now and buildings need a strategy to keep up and cement their place in the new world of electric mobility.

“Today, low-carbon mobility is taking off and all car manufacturers are announcing electric vehicle ranges. As a result, over the next 2 years, there will be enormous and increasing pressure on building managers and operators to install suitable infrastructures which go above and beyond the simple provision of charging points,” explains Claude Ricaud, consultant at the GIMELEC consortium of companies and the R2S 4 Mobility commission of the Smart Buildings Alliance. “To this end, we must work on developing a methodological framework, in order to give the real estate players the resources they need to approach this in a structured way.”

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