Electrical Vehicle Charger Space (EV Space) and Stations (EVCS)

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Erick Mikiten, AIA LEED-AP Mikiten Architecture


Kerwin Lee, AIA, CASp, I CC – Certified Accessibility Inspector and Plan Examiner ICC – Certified Building Plan Examiner

As the state goes greener, Electrical Vehicle Chargers Space (EV Space) are becoming more available and are being located at places of work and in the home. The California Building Code (CBC) is trying to catch up and has developed a set of standards/code requirements that will be found in the 2016 CBC, to be available in July of this year and effective January 2017. The new code section will answer some of the questions of when and where, as well as how much and when they need to be accessible for the disabled. The code’s current language for this article is taken from the last submitted ” Expressed Terms” that was approved by the Building Standards Commission in October 2015. What is published in the 2016 Code could be different.

Vehicle Charging Spaces are currently not required by the code, but when they are provided they are required to comply with the new code requirements. The chargers you see installed are by voluntary options of the owner and not a mandate. This will change in the future as more vehicles become electric and the need/demand changes. Refer to Cal Green for more details related to the use of and installations of chargers.

Under the building codes definition of parking spaces, Section 11B-208.1, EV spaces are NOT parking spaces; it is like a service station. Keeping this fact in mind, how will this affect parking counts, especially for existing parking areas? If the spaces are just for charging, what are the rules regarding their use? If a space is located in a mall/shopping center and someone can leave their vehicle, is it then considered a parking space? These questions are not addressed by the building code and may be up to the owner/operator of the facility to determine.

What the code does address are the nuts and bolts regarding the location and layout for EV spaces.
The main issues the code addresses are the requirements for disabled access. The requirements will be found in a new section in the 2016 CBC, Section 11B-812. The spaces are similar to the requirements for parking. Here are some of the basic requirements:
– Slope (max 1:48)
– Clear vertical height (98 inches)
– An accessible route of travel
– Types of spaces (4) – Van Accessible, Standard Vehicle, Ambulatory and Drive-up
– Access aisle
– Identification Signage

The markings and layout will have a drawing/figure in the code:

Under the section on identification signs, there are requirements associated with the number of EV spaces provide:
– Four or fewer, no signage
– Five to 25, one van only and
– 26 or more, all van and accessible spaces

codesThe required signage is for an International Symbol for Accessibility (ISA) or wheelchair symbol. The sign is the standard pole or wall mounted signage. There are no requirements for the ISA painted on/in the space.

What is missing is how many of each type of EV spaces are required? The key here maybe that since EV spaces are not currently required by the code, the number or type of spaces should not be required by the code, but why are their signage requirements based on numbers? Do the signage requirements dictate the type of space distribution, requiring van spaces?

The state had a more extensive package for this code change, but due to many comments on what was proposed, things got changed and withdrawn. The state will probably have more changes and additions to this section in the future.

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