Exclusive: NRCan holding early consultations on EV-ready recommendations
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Mar 5, 2024
Emma Jarratt

Public documents and industry sources confirm to Electric Autonomy that the federal government is in early consultations regarding possible future updates to the National Building Code to include “EV ready requirements”

British Columbia is the only province to implement EV-ready building code requirements for new MURBs. But the majority of Canadians living in apartments, condos and MURBs in Canada are struggling to access to charging.

Public documents and industry sources confirm to Electric Autonomy that NRCan is in early consultations regarding potential “EV-ready requirements”

New public documents show that at least two EV charging network operators, an advocacy group and one automaker are in talks with the government about access to charging in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs).

SWTCH, ChargePoint, Electric Mobility Canada and Tesla all disclose in lobby registry documents filed since September 2023 that they are in talks with federal ministries regarding EV-ready regulations as they pertain to MURBs.

Carter Li, CEO and co-founder of charging network operator, SWTCH, says in an interview with Electric Autonomy that NRCan’s Energy Innovation Program team reached out to him to ask for input on a potential Canadian Electrical Code change request.

“They’re very early on and discovering how they can potentially affect building codes on a national level to improve EV readiness,” says Li.

“It’s obviously a complicated question. They might put some recommendations forth on what could be done. These building code [updates] are every couple of years so it’s important to get it in the pipeline because if you miss this it’s another four or five years before the next one.”

Electric Autonomy reached out the Canadian Board for Harmonized Construction Codes (CBHCC) requesting more information on the status and progress of the consultations.

In an emailed response, the CBHCC says it “is not currently consulting on amendments to the National Model Codes related to EV-ready multi-unit residential buildings.”

However, ahead of any future consultations, “The CBHCC has received several code change requests (CCRs) related to EV charging. These CCRs will be evaluated further as we continue to develop a detailed work plan for the coming 2030 code cycle.”

MURB bottleneck

Accessing EV charging in MURBs is a fractured process across Canada. Annual reviews tracking EV-ready regulations show creating and implementing rules is often falling on municipalities.

This has created adoption deserts across Canada that sees municipalities moving proactively to ensure access to charging in MURBs and others not.

The National Building Code was last updated in 2020 and acts as a non-mandatory model of regulations, only. In its current form, it does not include regulations for EV-ready MURBs.

Currently, all provinces and territories in Canada regulate the design and construction of construction in their respective jurisdictions. However most provinces and territories have adopted portions of the National Code with some amendments. Those amendments for some provinces and cities include EV-ready requirements for new buildings.

“My understanding is that [the National Code] helps smaller municipalities — not like a City of Toronto or Vancouver that has the budget to do an assessment and understands the situation,” says Li. “[The National Building Code] may help alleviate some of the consultative burden on a smaller city who wants to look at this.”

British Columbia is the only province to implement EV-ready building code requirements for new MURBs. But the majority of Canadians living in apartments, condos and MURBs in Canada are struggling to access to charging.

A new report from the International Council for Clean Transportation estimates that by 2035, 37 per cent of Canadian “EV owners will probably not have access to private overnight home charging.”

The majority of EV drivers use home charging to power their vehicles. But in circumstances where home charging is not available or accessible, drivers must rely on public charging options.

2030 to bring EV-ready changes?

In a series of Zoom calls initiated by the government, Li says he spoke to NRCan about the pros and cons of different varieties of EV-ready requirements, deployment strategies and lessoned learned. Li believes engineering firms and real estate developers may also involved in consultations.

“It’s still high level. I don’t know what they’re going to do with it,” says Li.

“But I think they are recognizing that in places like B.C., in places that have building code requirements, that there have been material differences in the adoption.”

“NRCan has two parallel and complementary change requests currently in the [Canadian Standards Association]’s CE Code change request process: a high-level change for Section 86 that specifies that all residential parking spaces be equipped to supply electric vehicle charging equipment; and a detailed change for Section 26 that specifies technical requirements for branch circuits to enable Level 2 EV charging,” reads an email from an NRCan representative in response to questions from Electric Autonomy.

“The proposed Electrical Code changes also aim to include provisions for residential building EV-readiness, so that buildings have the electrical panel capacity, dedicated branch circuits and wiring to supply Level 2 electric vehicle charging equipment in all residential parking. “

The next update to the building code will come in 2025 and throughout 2023 the government held consultations to inform proposed changes. Electric Autonomy reviewed the proposed changes as a result of the 2023 consultations, but there were no EV-ready suggestions.

“All proposed code changes are subject to a two-month public review period, which is an opportunity for all interested stakeholders (including industry) to provide input on proposed changes,” reads the CBHCC statement.

“Another way stakeholders can provide input into the code development process is by volunteering to serve on code development committees, which are made up of volunteer experts that focus on specific technical topics.”

The CBHCC says the next round of proposed amendments to the Building Code will begin in January 2025 and will go into effect in 2030. It also says it is, “working toward harmonizing construction codes across Canada.”

Editor’s note: this story was updated to reflect a statement from NRCan that was received after publication.

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