January 17, 2024

The Top Emerging Building Electrification Trends for Electrical Contractors

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7 Min. Read

With building operations accounting for a third of energy usage around the globe, building electrification is a key step in creating a more sustainable future.

The residential and commercial building electrification markets are ripe with opportunities for electrical contractors, but there is a strong need to familiarize yourself with the latest trends and develop new skills to remain competitive in a demanding market for skilled electrical contractors.

Our latest article explores the latest building electrification trends you need to embrace to stay ahead of industry advancements and highlights key information electrical contractors need in a demanding and evolving energy landscape.

Electrification of Heating Systems

A traditional HVAC system typically accounts for 40% of a building’s energy use. Replacing systems powered by fossil fuels with electric alternatives is a cost-effective approach that greatly supports decarbonization efforts and supports your customers in saving money and improving their building efficiency. 

Newer solutions such as energy-efficient electric heat pumps are replacing traditional electric-resistance appliances, paving the way for electric heating systems.

Besides becoming familiar with new solutions such as electric heat pumps, contractors also need to consider how electric heating affects energy consumption and electric loads. You can create unique value by advising customers regarding load calculations and panel upgrades before adopting electric heating and other electrification solutions such as EV charging.

Integration of Smart Technologies

There is a new generation of electrification solutions that uses advanced technologies such as AI, IoT, or Power over Ethernet. These modern solutions support energy efficiency while improving user experience with features such as building automation.

Smart building technology can also monitor energy usage and optimize consumption. Additional use cases include remote management or making occupancy or weather-related energy decisions.

Experts predict the smart building market will grow at an annual rate of more than 10% from 2022 to 2026. Learning to design systems that incorporate smart building technologies can set you apart. It can also open the door for larger projects where you’ll get to collaborate with architects and engineers to create building-automation solutions.

Electrified Transportation Infrastructure

The ongoing electrification of the transportation infrastructure is a necessary response to the challenges linked to relying on fossil fuels. The transportation revolution is well underway with record-breaking EV sales and significant investments in the development of a charging infrastructure.

Building electrification will act as a key component of this infrastructure, with multifamily buildings, workplaces, and businesses offering EV charging.

A growing number of building owners are looking into expanding their parking facilities to create EV-friendly spaces, but they also need electrification upgrades to support EV charger installation and power needs, with each EV drawing a continuous load that ranges between 40 and 48 amps during charging sessions.

You can provide value by helping building owners develop a future-proof charging plan that encompasses panel upgrades, load management, clean energy integration, and evolving standards, while also having the experience and skills to support their operations with safe and efficient EV charger installation and maintenance services.

Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)

The United States’ energy grid is in need of an overhaul. A possible solution is to replace the current centralized energy production model with a modern grid that integrates Distributed Energy Resources, or DERs.

This decentralized model empowers communities, increases resilience, and reduces energy loss linked to transporting power over long distances. It could also contribute to lowering energy costs.

Building owners and managers have an important role to play in the development of an energy infrastructure that seamlessly integrates DERs by investing in renewable energy systems.

Contractors are crucial partners in the development of DERs. There is a growing demand for expertise in installing and maintaining solar panels and other clean and renewable energy solutions, and you can also support DER projects by designing interfaces that allow building owners to use, store, or upload the generated energy to the grid.

Electrification in Commercial Spaces

On a global scale, building operations represent 30% of energy consumption. A future where commercial buildings rely on an all-electric model would result in a significant shift in energy consumption.

Businesses are already investing in retrofitting and new construction projects that incorporate modern electrification solutions. There are multiple benefits, ranging from achieving ESG goals that align with a broader corporate mission, reducing costs, and improving operations. Plus, the regulatory environment is becoming stricter and increasingly pushing commercial entities toward adopting sustainable solutions.

Now is the right time to consider expanding your services as a contractor. You can explore additional opportunities by designing customized projects adapted to the needs of each business and developing expertise in multiple areas of electrification to offer comprehensive solutions to your customers’ new energy transition needs.

Electrification Resilience and Backup Systems

Electrification trends such as DERs are crucial for the development of an energy infrastructure that can handle modern climate-related challenges such as wildfires, heat waves, and rolling blackouts.

A key component of leveraging DERs is local energy storage. Combining solar panels or another clean source of energy with a whole-building battery system increases resiliency and allows the building to cut costs by drawing power from different energy sources based on pricing.

Battery storage also ensures that essential electrical systems are always up and running, including electric heating and EV charging.

In fact, experts predict that the battery market will grow at a rate of more than 14% per year over the next decade. As a contractor, you can help identify the right storage solution and design systems that manage energy storage and usage.

Electrification Policies and Regulations 

The regulatory environment is evolving to push for electrification on a large scale. For instance, the federal government recently announced that 30% of the floor space used by federal buildings would eliminate direct emissions by 2030 while the latest edition of the California building code has provisions that call for creating EV-ready parking spaces in most parking facilities.

The rules of doing business are changing, and transitioning toward more sustainable and electrified operations can be difficult to navigate for building owners. You can make a difference by keeping up with the latest trends and helping residential and commercial customers comply with federal, state, and local rules. Your role should also encompass a thorough understanding of the NEC, local codes, and necessary permits when planning electrification projects.

An advanced understanding of the regulatory environment will set you apart as an electrification leader who has the potential to become a long-term partner for achieving ESG and compliance goals.

Electrification Training and Certification

The latest building electrification trends are creating exciting opportunities for contractors, but pursuing these opportunities requires upgrading your skills and maintaining training on evolving technologies.

Seeking additional certification is a great place to start. For projects that involve EV charging, the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) is a popular option for gaining the knowledge you need to plan successful projects and establish yourself as a leader.

We also recommend using the resources from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Solution Center to familiarize yourself with important building electrification concepts.

Building Partnerships for the Future

Innovations in electrification are opening new possibilities for building owners and managers. By embracing building electrification, businesses and residential customers can save money with electric heating, become more resilient with storage and DERs, reduce their emissions with sustainable travel, and optimize their energy use with smart technology.

However, electrification can be complex to navigate between changing regulations, the need for customized whole-building solutions, or the necessity to balance loads between several energy-intensive applications, such as EV charging. As an electrical contractor, you can help.

Electrical contractors can address these challenges by seeking new training opportunities, establishing themselves as electrification leaders and partners, and ensuring they remain knowledgeable about the safety and efficiency of energy transition technology implementation and maintenance. For example, understanding that Level 2 EV charger installation requires commercial-grade materials to avoid melted components, electrical fires, and other hazards can help build long-term trust between you, your customers, and your community.

Qmerit can help you achieve this goal with a partnership that includes certification opportunities, exclusive jobs with leading auto manufacturers, EVSE companies, and businesses, professional support and business coaching, and a discounted purchasing program. With over 269,000 EV charging installation projects completed by our network of certified partners, we’re playing an active role in empowering contractors such as yourself to build a more sustainable future for their business and their communities.

Contact Qmerit today to learn more about joining our certified network or find out more about how we can help you build your business for the future.

Author: David Santillo David Santillo Senior Vice President, Contractor Support