Starting this week, drivers will be able to charge their electric vehicles on UAB’s campus. The Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSEs) will be open to anyone, including those not affiliated with UAB.
“The idea for this project came from a student through an application to the UAB Sustainability Investment Fund,” said Julie Price, Manager of UAB Sustainability. The fund is a shared program between UAB Sustainability and the Division of Student Affairs. “UAB Sustainability then provided additional funds to make the idea a reality. Our program is here to support investments that further cultivate our campus as a living lab, where we have new technologies that engage and educate the campus and community. It’s also a great service for EV drivers—EV charging stations are quickly becoming an amenity for staff at large, forward-thinking employers.”
EV drivers will need to download the ChargePoint mobile app to use the EVSEs, and there is a $1 per hour fee. A full charge will take four hours. Wesley Benefield, Project Manager in Planning Design & Construction (PD&C), said ChargePoint was selected as the vendor based on a number of variables: they provided the best price point for the EVSE equipment, EVSE maintenance, and the EVSE operations program.
UAB Parking and Transportation was instrumental in all aspects of development of the project, and has taken a leadership role in the ongoing operations and management of the system.
“We are so fortunate to have innovative and dynamic direction in UAB Parking and Transportation,” Price said. “This project will provide more amenities for UAB and the surrounding community to explore the best transportation option for each person.”
The new charging stations will not be the first on campus. Since the Facilities Division is focused on more sustainable fleet vehicles, the organization installed six EVSEs to service its all-electric fleet vehicles in 2016. These were 240V, Level 2 plug-in units meant to automatically charge overnight to take advantage of a special EV power rate. Benefield said the commercial units installed for public use are also 240V, Level 2 plug-in units that can fully charge a vehicle within 4 hours.
Since its inception, the UAB Sustainability Investment Fund has garnered great ideas from students on how to improve campus. Will Rutland, a School of Medicine student, submitted the idea for installing electric car charging stations in Spring 2015. The idea launched discussions with UAB Parking and Transportation about maintaining a charging system. A customer needs survey was conducted through UAB Sustainability to identify the number of units and locations needed
PD&C then reviewed multiple sites on campus to determine placement. the initial installation will include three locations:
- 2 charging ports at Parking Lot 5A adjacent to the Hill University Center,
- 2 charging ports at Parking Lot 77 adjacent to CHSB19, and
- 4 charging ports at Express Lot 4, the new remote parking lot on 5th Avenue
UAB Sustainability funded the installation of the EVSEs at the first two locations, and the cost of the Express Lot’s ports was built into the cost of the project. UAB Parking and Transportation Services will handle operations and other associated, and additional units will be installed as demand increases.
“Electric vehicles reduce emissions in the city center, which is historically an issue in Birmingham,” Price said. “While the electricity generated is generally still coming from fossil fuels, this generation is combined to a single emissions source, outside of the city, that can have better emissions reduction equipment. Over the life of an EV, CO2 emissions cans be reduced by up to 45 tons.”
Benefield said the survey UAB Sustainability conducted helped provide insight on where customers needed charging options, and that helped them create a master plan for future installations.
“One of the things that I found most interesting about this project was the valuable interaction of UAB personnel that included Transportation Services, Sustainability, Campus Maintenance, Hospital Planning, Energy Management, PD&C, and others,” Benefield said. “Each group provided much needed input that contributed to the overall planning and implementation of the project. The fun factor was in learning about new technology and seeing how it could work for UAB in a tangible way.”
For those interested in electric vehicles, the Plug In America website provides comparison information to help consumers, policy-makers, auto manufacturers and others to understand the benefits of driving electric.