Plugging in at Work – A Quick Guide to Electric Vehicle Workplace Charging

By Jonathan Susser | December 7, 2018

Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are being added to workplaces throughout the U.S., and it makes sense why: people are typically parked at work for several hours each day, and the perks of having a place to charge extends to both EV-driving employees and their employers.

Employees benefit from convenient charging and increased driving range. Their vehicles will also be more visible and can be a great conversation starter for sharing electric driving experiences with others. Indeed, charging stations have been found to further encourage EV adoption, as people who are able to plug in at work are six times more likely to drive an EV than those without the option.

On the employer side, workplace charging can support sustainability efforts and social responsibility, provide a valuable amenity to help attract new talent and retain current workers, and gain points toward LEED certification.

Launching a workplace charging program takes more than just adding an outlet somewhere, though. There are many factors to keep in mind when planning to install charging stations at your business. If you are thinking about pursuing workplace charging, consider the following steps to get the most out of your setup:

Develop a Workplace Charging Strategy

Identify short- and long-term goals, discuss budget considerations and funding, and determine a timeline for implementation.

Identify a Project Champion

Select an employee to oversee the charging station installation process and program development. Consider a facilities representative, an EV driver or your sustainability manager. Choose someone who can dedicate time to researching and planning to make your workplace charging program a success. It will also be important to have a point of contact responsible for the chargers.

Survey Employees

It is critical to survey your employees to learn about current and possible future charging demand, commute profiles, the types of EVs they may drive, etc. Results will help you decide how many charging stations to install and plan for the future.

Review Your Electrical Access

Installation is less expensive if the equipment is close to a power supply. Determine if there is access to an electrical panel or circuit from the parking area, or if any electrical upgrades will be needed. Also, review options for metering the charging stations.

Select Parking Spaces

Select parking spaces based on overall availability, proximity to the power source, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility and visibility.

Select Charging Stations

Select the charging power level that best fits your needs. Also, decide if there is a need to track and report charging usage or remotely check on charger status or availability. If there is, consider a station installed with network capabilities. These cost more but come with added functionality, including seamless payment systems.

Hire a Contractor

Hire a contractor or electrician to manage the installation process. Work with the contractor to develop a site plan and contact your utility. The electrician and utility will help determine if any panel upgrades, service upgrades or new metering is required.

Contact the Permitting Office

Contact your local permit office to see if there are requirements regarding the permitting, installation and inspection of the stations. Work with your contractor to obtain necessary permits and ensure compliance with applicable codes, such as ADA, zoning and encroachment agreements.

Install and Inspect Equipment

Your contractor will handle this step. To save money in the future, plan for charging expansion by installing conduit (and pulling power or communications wires if desired) for additional stations. Annual inspections can also help ensure that connectors and cords are in good condition and not in need of repairs.

Create a Policy

Put together a policy to manage the use of the charging stations, and make sure it is easy to scale as more employees drive EVs. See below for further policy considerations.

Promote the Charging Station

Host a ribbon-cutting or dedication ceremony, send a press release or plan an EV showcase to promote your new station.

Further Policy Considerations

A workplace charging policy is important for navigating specific topics and issues associated with charging, including time limits, driver etiquette, safety, charging fees, signage, enforcement, and maintenance and evaluation. Consider requiring participating employees to sign a copy of the policy to signify their understanding and agreement.

Charging Etiquette. A charging etiquette policy can help avoid potential conflicts that may arise as demand for charging stations increases. Etiquette policies can include information on what to do once your vehicle is finished charging and how to properly wrap the charging cord when leaving the charging station.

Charging to Charge. There are a number of reasons that workplaces may decide to charge a fee for EV charging: to recover equipment and installation costs; cover ongoing operating costs, including electric rates and maintenance; manage charging station use and limit unnecessary charging.

Fees can be collected by a parking permit that is managed by the company or by network cards and credit cards, which are usually managed by a third-party vendor. Companies should consult with their real estate, fleet, tax and/or legal representatives to determine which methods are permitted in their area.

Workplace charging benefits both employers and employees and is increasingly becoming an amenity offered by businesses and organizations. Having a plan and strategy in place will ensure that your charging program is successful and ready for the future.