Building Codes, Parking Ordinances, and Zoning Ordinances for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Building codes, parking ordinances, and zoning ordinances can influence electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure planning by creating design standards, requiring a minimum number of EV-ready spaces for new construction, or allowing EV charger installation as part of zoning ordinances. In addition to considering charging for light-duty EVs, codes and regulations should also be adopted to support infrastructure for neighborhood EVs and e-micromobility options, which typically only require access to a 120V receptacle to charge.

The following definitions are important to know when reading through these sections:

EV-Capable Parking Space: Electrical Panel Capacity & Conduit

  • Install panel capacity and conduit (raceway) to accommodate the future build-out of EV charging with 208/240 V, 40-amp circuits.
  • Rational: Provide hard-to-retrofit elements during new construction while minimizing up-front cost.
Electrical panel capacity and conduit for electric vehicle capable parking spaces

EV-Ready Parking Space: Install full circuit

  • Full circuit installations include 208/240V, 40-amp panel capacity, raceway, wiring, receptable, and overprotection devices similar to a dryer circuit.
  • Rational: Full circuits are plug-and-play ready and minimize total costs and additional barriers to installing Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).
Full circuit installation for electric vehicle ready parking spaces

EV-Installed: Install EV Charging Station (also known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment or EVSE).

  • Install charging stations during new construction.
  • Rational: Provide a visible signal that building supports EV charging and reduce future EV charger installation costs to zero.
Electric vehicle charging station installation for electric vehicle installed parking spaces

Source: Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), "SWEEP Guide to EV Infrastructure Building Codes". Refer to the Cracking the Code on EV Readiness in New Buildings report for more information on incorporating EV readiness in building codes.

Building Codes

Building codes ensure construction meets fire, electrical, plumbing, and other health and safety requirements. These codes are based on national or international standards, are adopted at the state or local level, and are enforced at the local level through permitting and inspection processes. The International Code Council (ICC) develops model codes and standards, including the International Building Code (IBC), International Residential Code (IRC), and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). While the IRC and IECC do not currently include references to EV charging, the 2021 version of the IBC has two references in Sections 406.2.7 and 1107. These sections include requirements for EV charging stations to be installed in accordance with NFPA 70 and to be UL listed, as well as a required number of accessible vehicle spaces (not less than 5% of EV charging station spaces but no fewer than one space shall be accessible).

As noted by the ICC in EV and Building Codes: A Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions, “EV infrastructure requirements in building codes support the transition towards EV ownership by increasing access to parking spaces with EV charging stations. Current EV charging provisions in some state and local building codes typically require new buildings and major renovations to include a mixture of parking spaces with installed EV charging infrastructure and some with the necessary electrical equipment to support the future installation of EV charging infrastructure as EV use continues to grow. A study by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project showed that the installation of EV electrical equipment into new buildings can decrease installation costs of charging stations by up to 75% compared to installation during a building retrofit."

Updating building codes can help a jurisdiction become EV friendly in several ways. For example, codes can be established that require all new construction and major renovations to incorporate EV charging infrastructure. Possible requirements include:

  • Install EV chargers at a minimum number of parking spaces or ensure they can easily accommodate future charger installation
  • Include a minimum number of accessible EV charging station spaces
  • Require the EV charging equipment to be UL listed.

EV friendly building codes can also reduce the overall cost of EV charging infrastructure development if EV-ready spaces are incorporated into new construction. It costs 4-6 times more to add EV-ready elements post-construction compared to during construction or major renovation.

Updating and amending building codes is a familiar process for many local and state governments. To facilitate updates related to EV charging, the ICC provides model language that can be integrated into existing codes. This model language also supports consistent approaches for defining EV-ready spaces and formatting of requirements, making it easier for an applicant to find the required information when submitting a project for approvals.

Parking Ordinances

Parking ordinances are used to manage public enforcement of parking policies and apply to publicly accessible EV charging stations, including municipal lots, privately operated parking lots or garages, and on-street locations. Parking regulation and enforcement is typically a shared responsibility in municipalities and requires participation from departments of transportation, law enforcement, public works, permitting, parking lot and garage managers, and other key players in transportation and traffic management. Officials can leverage parking ordinances to address several aspects of EV charging infrastructure, including design aesthetics, maximum parking time per EV, access, and violations.

Updating parking ordinances can help a jurisdiction become EV friendly in the following ways:

  • Provide clear design requirements for EV charging equipment and parking spaces.
  • Define safety (e.g., bollards, wheel stops, cord storage) and security (e.g., lighting, element coverage, access to nearby amenities) requirements for the EV charging space.
  • Require minimum number of EV charging spaces that are ADA compliant.
  • Define approved signage for EV charging spaces and wayfinding.
  • Permit law enforcement to enforce regulations (e.g., parking in an EV charging station space is permitted only for EVs, the time an EV can be parked in the space, or all EVs must be actively charging while parked).

Zoning Ordinances

Zoning ordinances regulate land use, including what can be built on a property. In the context of EV readiness, local governments can use zoning ordinances to control where EV charging stations are allowed or prohibited. Zoning can also be used to incentivize or require EV charging stations. Officials should understand how current zoning ordinances might prohibit or preclude the installation of EV charging stations and should review local ordinances to identify any language that could potentially impact installation.

Updating zoning ordinances can help a jurisdiction become EV friendly in the following ways:

  • Allow EV charging stations at existing buildings and new buildings (whereas updating building codes only applies to new developments/redevelopments).
  • Provide opportunities to streamline the project without requiring a zoning variance. For example, zoning codes may allow EV charging stations to be installed as an accessory use and permitted in all zones.
  • Provide ability to address future issues with minimum off-street parking requirements. For example, zoning codes may clarify if an EV-only charging space counts toward minimum parking requirements. This can be further complicated if adding EV charging spaces reduces the total number of parking spaces because the station and electrical equipment require space.

Common code updates to create EV friendly regulations:

  • Building Codes
    • Set minimum requirements for EVSE-installed, EV-ready, and EV-capable spaces and/or accessible EV parking spaces
    • Require EV charging station equipment to be certified, such as UL listed
    • Include required information for construction permits, such as EV charging equipment details and location.
  • Parking Ordinances
    • Incorporate requirements for EV space design and location, including on-street parking
    • Establish requirements for safety provisions such as bollards, wheel stops, and cord storage
    • Restrict EV charging stations to EV parking only
    • Include ADA compliance requirements for EV charging spaces, such as minimum required accessible spaces, as well as design and hardware requirements
    • Create consistent signage information guidelines, such as rates, time of use, and wayfinding.
  • Zoning Ordinances
    • Adopt code that classifies EV charging stations as an accessory use for most cases and allowable in all zones
    • Add a land use category to account for if/when EV charging stations are the primary use so they are not classified as a fueling station (e.g., a gas station)
    • Identify permitted land uses for EV charging stations
    • Set minimum requirements for the number of off-street EV charging spaces
    • Count EV charging spaces toward minimum parking requirements
    • Remove the requirement to conduct a parking review for applications solely for installation of EV charging stations as an accessory use
    • Require publicly available charging ports to support all vehicle makes/models
    • Create an expedited, streamlined permitting process for EV charging stations, including Level 2 and DC fast charging.


For more information about zoning and parking ordinances related to EV readiness and EV charging station deployment, refer to the Alternative Fuels Data Center Laws and Incentives website.

Additional resources that include example building/zoning/parking code language implemented in other communities are listed below: