Time to Fill Up the Car. Where Do I Plug In?

By Austin Regan

In the last few years, we have seen the City of New York get serious about energy conservation. From Local Law 84/2009 which required large buildings to analyze and report on their energy and water usage, to the Department’s better late than never embracing of the NYS Energy Code, the City is taking energy consumption seriously.

The Zoning Resolution and the Building Code have been amended in the last few years to ensure that private owners are not penalized for making their buildings thermally efficient or for attempting to incorporate alternative fuels technology such as wind or solar power. The installation of solar panels will not affect the Code defined height of a building. The City Planning Commission provided an incentive to building owners to build buildings that exceeded the State’s minimum energy requirements by rewarding such designs with a limited zoning floor area deduction.

Now, in a nod to the federal government’s long term goal of raising minimum efficiency standards for automobiles to 50 mpg, the 2014 Code will mandate that new parking garages and parking lots have the capacity to accommodate vehicle charging stations for electric vehicles. BC 406.2.11 states that the electrical raceway to the electrical supply panel serving a parking garage be capable of providing a 3.1 kW minimum electrical capacity to at least 20% of the garage parking spaces. The electrical room serving the garage must be able to handle the additional capacity also.

Exceptions are made for parking garages serving Group M – Mercantile buildings as well as certain low income housing projects. Structures that are temporary in nature (3 years or less) are also exempt. BC 406.7.11 dictates the same requirements with the same exceptions for open parking lots. While the Code does not dictate that actual charging stations be provided, the infrastructure must be in place. Future updates of the Code will very likely dictate that such stations be provided as the percentage of electric vehicles grows in the coming years.