By Michael Stein
While the impact of the real estate and transportation industries on the environment has been well known for some time, there has been a notable push from these industries in the past decade to explore and implement methods of reducing emissions. Becoming net-zero is a stated goal by numerous corporations that includes ever increasing buy-in from various players in the real estate industry at large. The recent rise in both electric vehicles (EVs) and their charging stations’ inclusion in modern development projects underscore efforts between these two industries in working together to promote more environmentally conscious lifestyles in pursuit of the future.
Addressing the Roadblocks
New real estate development and especially new multifamily and urban housing development projects
resulting from pandemic migratory movement and relocations present a unique opportunity to increase
the availability of new charging stations that encourage adoption of EVs. New residential development, at
the crossroads of post pandemic trends and shifting demographics, is an ideal opportunity to introduce
new ways of life in terms of providing new and more convenient options as well as partnering with
sustainable efforts in reducing carbon emissions. In a questionable housing and even commercial
markets where CAP rates are of concern, adding EV options and charging stations only serve to increase
property values as a highly valued amenity. The trend will also encourage re-zoning in neighborhoods
with older building codes who are yet to begin initiating and making room for widespread EV adoption.
As an unintended catalyst for the future of EV in residential neighborhoods, many cities and states have
adopted legislation requiring them to reduce overall emissions. Among these is New York City, whose
ambitious Local Law 97 aims to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050. As regulatory proceedings
increase nationwide and especially in urban and suburban areas, multifamily and other real estate
development will follow with more environmentally conscious plans in pursuit of compliance. Undoubtedly electric charging stations will be included to meet future expectations in residential housing.
Preparing to Meet Milestones
This in mind, states such as California have taken additional measures to help foster the growth of EVs
and their infrastructure. In addition to the state’s own legislation requiring its emissions to be reduced by
40 percent by 2030, the state is also requiring that 100 percent of its electricity must come from carbon-
free sources by 2045. In 2020, California also became the first state to propose a Zero-Emissions Vehicle
mandate for large trucks. Taken together, these goals and initiatives will significantly encourage electric
utility investment in EV charging stations.
Real Estate Industry Going Green
Leaders in the real estate industry have also taken steps to ensure that the road to increased EV
adoption is as smooth as possible. As an example, Pensam, one of the largest private real estate
investors and capital providers specializing in the multi-housing sector, has worked with property
management partner BH Management to include EV stations at 35 of their properties as part of their
company’s Go Green efforts. With each of these properties containing roughly 85 stations, Pensam’s Go
Green initiative was highly successful throughout 2021, saving over 51 million kilowatt-hours (kWh); for
reference, one kWh is roughly the amount of energy needed to keep an appliance such as an air
conditioner or heater running for one hour. In this way, Pensam’s Go Green initiative was instrumental in
helping achieve significant efficiencies, cost savings and emissions reductions.
The past few years suggest that widespread adoption of EVs can be achieved. Already, we see
collaborative efforts and synergy between regulatory bodies and the transportation and real estate
industries. Fortunately, these bodies and sectors appear to have come to an understanding, making progress in EV adoption. By doing so, real estate developers are making major strides in reimagining
future development projects to include EV and other environmentally friendly options and lifestyles.