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  • Writer's pictureWayne Drury

Going Green in Apartment Buildings

Have you thought about how your apartment building is going to go green by adding a EV chargers?

Last night, my wife and I went for a walk. In possibly a very unassuming place. Our parking garage, all three levels of it. For most, probably not high on their bucket list, but I wanted to check out the number of parking spaces with EV chargers.

Earlier in the day, I had read an article about brownouts in Los Angeles - a long ways from the home of Sustainable Circular Economy, a boutique firm in Vancouver that assists First Nation communities and businesses through the morass of figuring out how to do the world a world of good based upon the principles of a Circular Economy.

In the case of our apartment building, the article got me thinking about how many of those EV chargers could be installed before we begin having brownouts, or have to upgrade our building electrical service? And then the thought went to, “who will pay and how much will it cost?”

Things to Consider

OK, you have made the decision to buy that EV and now you need a wall charger. The things my mother never told me. There are all sorts of options and price points available. But, it does appear that $5,0001 budget for the charging unit is where most people will probably land after deciding:

  1. How many amps do you need?

  2. The length of cable required?

  3. Does Utility Rate Schedule Integration sound like something you will need?

  4. Do you want Smart Home Energy Management Integration?

  5. What about TOU Management - sorry, do not ask me what that is, but I am sure an electrician will have the answer at their fingertips.

  6. Do you want Demand Charge Management?

  7. There is even a Solar Only charging system

What is the Issue of Dropping These into Our Building?

The article got me thinking about how many of those EV chargers could be installed before we begin having brownouts, or have to upgrade our building electrical service?

I know from our Strata Council there has been no discussion and how many of you have heard our government raise this issue of “how much electricity can our distribution system handle before we start having problems?” In the case of Ontario, their Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) estimates an upgrading cost of $425 billion to handle all the new demand. I am looking out our window in Vancouver and wondering, how would that be accomplished here?

Has anybody thought this thing out? Just think of the chaos of ripping up the streets to install new lines and equipment and that is after the “100 years” of planning, consultation, environmental assessments, before we get to installation. It took more than 30 years for the Site C project to be approved - the Kitimat LNG project is in its 18th year - a small one tower wind turbine project in the Northwest Territories has been ongoing for 6 years - and I personally appreciate the challenges of planning, consultation, environmental assessments and construction having, and continue to be involved in these activities through our association between Sustainable Circular Economy, First Nation communities and businesses. Exciting work, no easy task and plan for lots of lead time.

In the Building

I am no electrical expert and do not count myself as someone who can lead you through the morass of technical issues required to be considered. At the “simple” end of the decision-making spectrum, the discussion needs to include:

  • Present capability of the electrical system

  • How many units and amps will be required to meet a 100% demand.

  • And that leads to the nitty-ditty detail of planning, consultation, approvals, new electrical management bylaws, selection of contractor(s), and finally, upgrading. Let’s hope that the electrical grid can handle all this new load.

At the other end of the spectrum is adding, “how do we adapt our present 100-year-old electrical system to meet the coming electrical loads?” A very complex issue with “governments, organizations, special interest groups pushing this at us” 2, with system that we expect to continue to keep turning and work, just fine, thank you.

Is anyone taking a critical look at all of this? There is lots of information about what “could,” “would,” or “might” happen 3, but where is the information on the difficulty of doing all of this?

On the side of “The lights will not go out” is Electrek, an American news website dedicated to electric transportation and sustainable energy. Electrek is known for its extensive, positive coverage of electric transportation in general and Tesla specifically. Sound like they may have a conflict with their information?

On the side of “The lights did go out,” is a real-world example in Los Angeles where a blackout occurred. This has lead the California Energy Regulator to put the following message on its website.

“(We) may shut off electric power, referred to as “de- energization” or Public Safety Power Shut-offs, to protect public safety under California law.” Does that give anybody confidence that the electrical grid is up to it?


Please do not get me wrong; I am not against going green and work on those issues each and every day. In fact, added to our projects is one that is based upon a circular economy of reuse, repurpose and recycle of a previously thrown away product. This project will remove over 1 million Kgs from a land fill, converting to a product that is good for the People, the Planet and Sustainability.

What I am looking for is our leaders to lead us in discussions that include truth and consequence. Without truthful information, including consequence, we cannot know if we are collectively going down a wrong path to 2050 when our politicians will have take their pensions to some far-off land, like the Bahamas and we are left holding the bag.

Merry Christmas to all and may our 2023 be environmentally friendly, with no more inflation, food insecurity, or health care crisis. We can do it if we put our mind to it.

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