Distributed Energy Resources, Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions - October 10, 2022 - By Better Buildings
Multifamily Better Climate Challenge Partners Drive the EV Conversation
Despite differences in portfolio size, location, and target market, multifamily housing providers Foundation Communities and Veris Residential have chosen similar paths in pursuit of their sustainability goals: as Better Climate Challenge (BCC) partners, they have both committed to cutting their carbon emissions in half, but they also share a belief in the growing importance of electric vehicles (EVs) to reducing emissions – from residents as well as their own operations.
Foundation Communities is an affordable housing and supportive services provider serving 3,200 households in and around Austin, Texas. They installed their first EV charging station in 2010 and have since grown that number to more than 20 stations across seven properties, with eight more properties that are ‘EV-ready’ (i.e. possess the necessary conduit and electrical infrastructure for future installation of chargers). Behind the organization’s commitment to EV infrastructure is a belief that the market is rapidly transitioning towards EVs, and the Foundation Communities team sees it as their responsibility to help the families they serve be ready for that shift.
Foundation Communities has financed the new EV stations by layering State and City rebate programs with private-sector funding opportunities. Through Austin Energy’s Plug In EVerywhere Program, Austin residents are able to charge their EVs at any of the approximately 1,200 charging stations in the program’s network for a flat fee of $4.17 a month. Katelynn Essig, Foundation Communities’ Director of Sustainability, points out that while the flat fee helps make the cost of owning an EV more affordable, especially given current gas prices, purchasing an EV is still out of reach for most of her residents. To address that barrier, Foundation Communities has begun exploring a low-cost financing pilot program to help its residents afford electric vehicles in the future.
Veris Residential is a New Jersey-based real estate company that owns approximately 6,500 units of market-rate housing across the states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York. In 2021 they became the first U.S.-based real estate company to join the Climate Group’s EV100 initiative and has since pursued the installation of EV stations across its entire portfolio, installing more than 50 charging ports across its 22 multifamily properties with plans to install almost 30 more this year. In addition to helping reduce the carbon footprint of its properties and residents, Veris has found that the new stations also strengthened the marketability of its units, as the chargers increasingly represent a desirable amenity among the growing number of EV owners in the US.
To reduce upfront costs for equipment and installation, Veris takes advantage of utility incentives and state funding opportunities whenever available, such as the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Multi-Unit Dwelling (MUD) Electric Vehicle Program Charging Program and the Massachusetts EVIP. Veris has also recently submitted applications to New Jersey’s It Pay$ to Plug In grant program, a new initiative that could pay up to $150,000 to cover the costs of installing DCFC ‘supercharger’ stations in certain Veris properties that meet the program’s criteria. Per the program’s guidelines, these chargers would be accessible to the public and located at convenient transit corridors and community locations.
Having planned for, financed, and installed EV charging stations, organizations still have decisions to make about how the stations will be operated. Karen Cusmano, Head of Sustainability and ESG at Veris, says her team is currently evaluating the relative merits of a usage model where residents pay a flat fee for exclusive access to a charging station in their building versus one where residents use an app to pay for charging their vehicles using shared stations at the property. For Ms. Essig at Foundation Communities, EV station maintenance is an ongoing issue that she hopes to solve through a maintenance contract provided by the manufacturer.
Learn more about the BCC and see if it might be a good fit for your organization on the Better Climate Challenge homepage.
This blog originally appeared on the Better Climate Challenge website.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is challenging organizations to set ambitious, portfolio-wide GHG emission reduction goals. This new effort provides additional opportunities for peer exchange and technical assistance to meet the urgent call to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Through the Better Climate Challenge, organizations can partner with DOE to reduce portfolio-wide GHG emissions (scope 1 & 2) by at least 50% within 10 years. DOE will provide technical assistance and opportunities to learn and share actionable best practices for carbon reduction. Jump to Program Resources.