Electric vehicles in higher-density residential developments

Vehicle electrification is just one aspect of a broader electrification movement that includes decarbonisation of power systems and improvements in mobility.¹ The potential impact, however, is significant, given transport is suggested to have the largest dependency on fossil fuels and is responsible for over a quarter of worldwide carbon emissions from end-use sectors, with road transportation accounting for 16% of global emissions.²

Advancements in range and performance has seen sales of electric vehicles (EVs), specifically cars, reach record highs in 2021, with China and Europe combined accounting for more than 85% of global electric car sales,³ which highlights that their uptake is far from evenly distributed. The electrification of vehicles is quickly altering the transportation-energy landscape with far-reaching implications and will play a significant part in transitioning towards Net Zero Emissions by 2050. It will also inform the work and considerations of design consultants and engineers in this space and the built environment electrification paradigm shift.

Beside convenience, home charging capability in residential areas with connected or multi-unit buildings will be vital component of the electrification capability-building for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, working in tandem with public charging infrastructure.⁴ Shared mobility, and automated solutions rather than traditional vehicle ownership is also expected to feature as a key future trend.

Power level charging for EVs ranging from light and medium, to heavy duty and the interoperability of these systems, must provide a range of charging options from at-home, in the workplace and public places⁵ to ensure equitable access to charging infrastructure that considers all demographics and circumstances. Moreover, in group dwellings or higher-density residential developments with common residential carparking, sharing of this infrastructure will challenge behaviours and management thereof with consideration of equitable metering programmed to a resident’s account required.

Since completing Stage 1 at Rossmoyne Waters for Adventist care 3 years ago, Hames Sharley has started working with ‘Retirement Living’ clients, where we have experienced a significant upswing in interest in EV charging facilities from residents in common basement carpark areas, with many more Stage 2 purchasers requesting charging facilities. This major transformation will require developers and operators consider feasibility modelling that enable an accelerated transition to net zero. For example, fast charging facilities may be cost-prohibitive and unfeasible for every car bay where space is at a premium, therefore, charger placement must be planned to optimise accessibility and shared use.

Rossmoyne render.
Australis at Rossmoyne Waters

Deployment of public and private charging infrastructure and relevant business models must be identified with reliability and convenience as key considerations to ensure effective and efficient uptake. Lower-cost, standard 15-amp outlets for ‘slow charge’ infrastructure appropriate for light passenger vehicles are more difficult to meter, without the introduction of costlier individual cabling options. However, ‘smart’ metering allows for digital account-based approach to mitigating significant duplication of physical infrastructure. Designers, it could be suggested, need to be at the cutting edge of technological advancement, yet responsive to the context and application requirements.

Retirement living, for example, is somewhat unique in that buyers in a development can withdraw at any stage during construction, making it difficult to predict resident demand at completion. Therefore, the conversation must consider that this is part of a ‘whole systems’ approach. Arguably, much of the ‘thinking of tomorrow, today’ suggests that and allowing sufficient flexibility forms part of a much broader conversation around futureproofing and cost savings arising from not retrospectively adapting to the needs of tomorrow but allowing for its integration today.

A parallel conversation to this, is that the fuel and emissions ecosystem provide significant government revenue streams that must be remapped to allow for future investment in road transport infrastructure. Therefore, large-scale adoption of EV technologies forms a promising current technological shift toward a new revenue profile and concurrently reducing global emissions figures and decarbonisation of mobility.

Traditional service stations must also be re-visioned and form part of the electrification futureproofing environment with the federal government pressured to act, with the ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, committing the ACT to phasing out internal combustion engines by 2035.⁶ Current research appears to support this transition and ameliorate concerns surrounding excessive charging time with batteries charging to over 90% in 10 minutes.⁷

What can be said with a level of certainty is that the number of EVs linked into the grid will grow significantly over the next decade. This presents several key global challenges, including meeting overall energy and power demands, and developing ‘smart charging’ or vehicle-to-grid service from linked cars,⁸ and for designers, developing spaces designed with sufficient forethought surrounding flexibility and systems integration.


¹ ⁴ ⁸ Muratori, Matteo, Marcus Alexander, Doug Arent, Morgan Bazilian, Pierpaolo Cazzola, Ercan M Dede, John Farrell, et al. 2021. “The Rise of Electric Vehicles—2020 Status and Future Expectations.” Progress in Energy 3 (2): 022002. https://doi.org/10.1088/2516-1083/abe0ad.

² International Energy Agency (IEA). 2020. “Transport – Topics.” International Energy Agency (IEA). 2020. https://www.iea.org/topics/transport.
³ ———. 2022a. “Global EV Outlook 2022 – Analysis.” International Energy Agency (IEA). 2022. https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2022.
⁵ ———. 2022b. “Public Charging Infrastructure Deployment Strategies and Business Models - Event.” International Energy Agency (IEA). 2022. https://www.iea.org/events/public-charging-infrastructure-deployment-strategies-and-business-models.

Kurmelovs, Royce. 2022. “Federal Government under Pressure to Increase EV Uptake after ACT Announces Petrol Car Ban.” The Guardian, July 21, 2022. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/22/australia-ev-electric-vehicle-uptake-canberra-petrol-car-ban-act.

“Super-Fast Electric Car Charging, with a Tailor-Made Touch.” 2022. EurekAlert! 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/960985.

Did you enjoy this article?