Architect’s Corner: Clean Energy

Architects Play a Role in Widespread EV Adoption

by Sara Martin, co-founder, Open Door Architecture

(Editor’s Note: Sara Martin is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and was the architect for HGTV® Urban Oasis® 2017.  Martin is also the director of the Design Center at Atom Power®.)

Give architects a kit of parts, the box of components that we mix and match to make visually appealing the necessary components of a project, and you never know what creative spark might be unleashed.  Like kids with a fresh box of new toys, we gleefully take these pre-engineered components to marry form, or aesthetics, and function, such as electronics, appliances, plumbing, etc.  Thanks to a plethora of HGTV shows, the best example of this pairing, the integration of kitchen appliances into cabinetry, has gone mainstream. 

         Now it’s time to take our design talents in a tangential direction, one that will allow us to influence the clean energy revolution.  Architects are positioned to make a difference when it comes to the adoption of clean energy in the communities where we work.  Thanks to cutting edge engineering, a hot new box of fun toys is at our disposal.  Atom Power has created a very special invitation for architects to take electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to the next level, giving our industry a significant role to play in the consumer adoption of more electric vehicles.  EV charging stations don’t have to be boring towers that resemble a droid from a galaxy far, far away.  Nor do they have to be placed far, far apart.  With our attention to aesthetics, a charging station can be customized to complement any building, old or new.  These charging stations can take the form of anything we envision, because the part that provides the power to the vehicle is in the kit. 

         By including customized EVSE in the plans for more commercial buildings, we not only increase public access to this source of fuel, we play a part in influencing consumers to purchase an EV.  The adoption of EVs has been slower than other forms of renewable energy like residential use of solar panels.  Part of the challenge posed by EVs is range anxiety, the fear that the vehicle can only go so far on a single charge.  But, if more charging stations are incorporated into the places we frequent and travel, the risk of being unable to charge a vehicle should be no different than the risk of not finding a gas station. 

         Additionally, we can make EVSE eye-catching in the process.  It’s well established that once things look beautiful, they are adopted more quickly.  Plus, because the EVSE market is still emerging, where it goes from here will be influenced by us.  Also, architects are a fantastic bridge from engineering to art and the EVSE kit-of-parts could be incorporated into urban art installations and sculptures.  Given the tools to elevate the design, the opportunities are endless and the ability to customize EVSE allows all of us working in an aesthetics related industry to make our mark.  My only hope is that someday our specially designed charging stations will be as commonplace as overlay refrigerator units. 

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