March 6, 2017

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Building codes are the key to the Massachusetts clean transportation future

Massachusetts was in position to advance a landmark update to its building codes that would have extended the Bay State’s leadership in innovation, clean energy, and electric vehicle (EV) charging. But with little notice, the state Board of Building Regulations and Standards voted to effectively strip the measure from consideration, attempting to sweep the issue under the rug.

All those who care about a clean transportation future for the commonwealth should stand up, make their voices heard, and call on the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) to reverse this decision. Let the board know that it should honor the commonwealth’s commitment to clean transportation and ensure that the next generation of buildings is constructed with EV Ready facilities.

The BBRS was scheduled to consider new building code rules at a public hearing next Tuesday in Boston. These new rules would have required that some parking spaces in buildings under construction be prepped for installation of EV charging stations. This is known as making a building “EV Ready” to support future EV charging needs. It would have saved millions of dollars in unnecessary retrofitting costs when deploying EV charging stations.

However, the BBRS recently took a surprise vote to remove EV Ready language from the proposed update to the building codes without the benefit and input of a well-known community of stakeholders. This vote runs directly counter to a measure signed into law by Gov. Baker that explicitly authorized the BBRS to set EV Ready requirements in the state building code. This law was celebrated by Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito, Speaker DeLeo, and Senate President Rosenberg.

Now, why is EV Ready important?

EV Ready construction ensures that buildings are equipped to support clean transportation as demand increases. When charging stations are needed for building tenants or customers, the building will already be “ready” to support installation without undergoing significant and costly retrofits and upgrades to the electricity available on the site or trenching a paved parking lot.

Consumers in Massachusetts and across our nation are embracing a new generation of electric vehicles that cost less, charge faster, and travel farther. These EV technology advancements helped electric vehicle sales soar 37 percent last year nationwide.

Massachusetts is one of the most innovative states in the nation, and we deserve a world-class network of charging stations to power our future transportation.

EV readiness will lead to significant savings for Massachusetts and ensure that we can efficiently build the needed charging infrastructure. If a building is EV Ready, the cost of installing an EV charging station is reduced significantly. For example, the installation cost of retrofitting a commercial parking space would drop from around $6,000 to an estimated average of $1,800-$3,000 at an EV Ready spot.

That’s why we urge the board to reverse course and honor the commonwealth’s commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring that buildings in Massachusetts are ready to charge the vehicles of tomorrow. In doing so, we will send a powerful message that the Bay State is a true leader in America’s clean transportation revolution.

Matt Mincieli is the Northeast region executive director for TechNet, the national, bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior executives.

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