New Model Energy Code Will Make Charging Electric Vehicles More Convenient
New buildings across the nation will be built with electric vehicles in mind, according to a preliminary 2021 model energy conservation code. Local government officials approved the proposal, which would make new homes and buildings electric vehicle ready. The International Code Council voting results were announced last Friday and certification of the results is expected in January.
“Electric vehicles are a huge opportunity to save money and reduce pollution,” said Matt Frommer, Senior Transportation Associate at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “Before we know it, electric vehicles will be everywhere. We need to provide places for those vehicles to fuel up. By planning for EV charging at homes and businesses, we can help communities across the nation make a smooth transition from petroleum to electricity and realize the benefits of efficient, clean and electric transportation. These new codes are a major step forward.”
Electric vehicles (EVs) are more efficient and cost less to operate than gasoline-powered vehicles. Driving an EV charged at home is comparable to driving on $1 per gallon gasoline. EVs also never need oil changes, spark plug replacements, or other maintenance that gasoline cars frequently require. That results in real cost savings. For example, the City of Sacramento is saving 75 percent on fuel and maintenance for EVs in its fleet, and New York City reports that EV sedans in its fleet are 20 percent cheaper than comparable gasoline vehicles on a total cost of ownership basis. Transitioning all vehicles to electric could save America hundreds of billions of dollars per year on transportation.
Electric vehicles also have no tailpipe pollution. Transitioning to electric transportation is a key strategy America can pursue to reduce health-threatening air pollution in cities and to cut pollution that causes climate change.
The EV-ready codes set minimum requirements for builders to incorporate appropriate electrical infrastructure into garages and parking spaces to enable the future installation of EV charging stations. Under the codes, new commercial and multi-family residential buildings must have the infrastructure for EV charging at a minimum of 20 percent of parking spaces, while homes must have appropriate wiring to install at least one electric charging station. Installing EV-ready infrastructure at the time of construction will save consumers money – reducing the cost of installing wiring and circuits by as much as 10 times compared to a retrofit stand-alone project.
"I suspect people will look back on this in 10 years and talk about how smart a decision it was. It's going to significantly ease the transition to electric vehicles," said Natasha Vidangos, Vice President of Research and Analysis at the Alliance to Save Energy.
"This is how we pave the way for the next generation of transportation, by taking forward-looking steps like this that enable and encourage more efficient options,” she added. “Electric vehicles are among the most efficient vehicles on the road, with the potential to dramatically reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector."
The new 2021 code also includes standards for making buildings and homes more energy efficient by installing insulation, energy efficient windows, and other energy-saving features. Buildings and transportation together account for almost three-quarters of U.S. carbon pollution. The 2021 model code will help reduce pollution from both of these major sources.
The model code was approved after a vote by thousands of local and state government officials nationwide, held online during November and December. The code is updated every three years through a stakeholder process. After the Code Council validates and certifies the voting results, likely in January, cities and states may then adopt it. The code is used in states across the country and in many other countries (although not all communities use the most recent version).
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project joined with the Alliance to Save Energy to develop and advocate for including an EV-ready element in the 2021 model energy conservation code. Our code proposal was supported by a broad variety of stakeholders including the Auto Alliance, the Coalition for Clean Air, and Consumer Reports.
The Alliance to Save Energy is a nonprofit, bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental and consumer leaders working to expand the economy while using less energy. Our mission is to promote energy productivity worldwide – including through energy efficiency – to achieve a stronger economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security, affordability and reliability.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public-interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. For more information about our programs and other work, please visit swenergy.org