Canadian Property Management | October 2023
Frank Cavaliere, BSc, P.Eng., FEC, FGC (Hon.), LEED® AP, Parksmart Advisor | Managing Principal

From code changes to fire safety, now’s the time to plan ahead

In the coming decade, car manufacturers in Canada will be subject to penalties for not producing and selling the right quota of electric vehicles (EV), contributing to a rapid rise in EV ownership. Given electric-powered vehicles are heavier than their gas-fuelled counterparts, there’s a good chance Building Code requirements will be changing in the near-term to address design loads for parkades, particularly as more electric pick-up trucks and SUVs begin flooding the market.

“Currently, it’s the owner’s decision whether or not to upgrade their parkades,” says Frank Cavaliere, Managing Principal at RJC Engineers. “But new parkades being designed and constructed should, prudently, be engineered to support more load than the Code requires to provide capacity for future vehicles,” he says. “We know what’s coming—and that’s larger, heavier models, including…dare I say…electric Hummers.”

The current recommendations for acceptable floor coatings in parkades were based on lighter passenger car vehicles with pneumatic or “air-inflated” tires. As Cavaliere points out, these floor coatings are important because they are protecting the floor structure from corrosion.

“Not only are EV vehicles forecast to be heavier, but the tire types are forecast to be changing to non-pneumatic,” he says. “Non-pneumatic tires would resemble a wire-mesh frame-type, like those used for the Moon Buggy driven by the astronauts. Today these tires are quite expensive and not yet market competitive. They’ll require much less maintenance and won’t get flat, but they’ll impose much higher stresses on the floor coatings, which will need to be made stronger.”

Charging infrastructure

Weight-bearing and coating issues aside, all parkades today should have some charging infrastructure in place to meet the needs of the growing contingent of EV users. Charging stations are becoming more and more common in both private and public carparks, but they can be a source of significant demand on a building’s electrical supply.

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