Building Alternative Energy Refueling Stations: A Project Overview
Alternative energy refueling station projects aren’t unlike other building efforts. They still require precise budgeting, innovative design, compliant permitting, safe and timely execution, and thorough close-out practices.
But what does it take to build an alternative energy refueling station from start to finish, and how does this differ from other projects? Let’s break down each step in the process, exploring past FASTECH projects and pro tips from experienced fuel station experts along the way.
If you’re a newcomer to renewables and want to build your first alternative energy refueling station, having an experienced energy infrastructure consultant in your corner can help you:
- Develop an end-to-end understanding of the process
- Create a feasible scope
- Set reasonable expectations
- Save time and money throughout the project
But remember that the consulting role is sometimes just that. Instead of designing, building, sourcing, testing, and maintaining your station, a consultant serves in an advisory capacity, advocating for you and other project stakeholders throughout the process.
At FASTECH, our consulting specialties include:
- Site strategy and planning – We scope your project from top to bottom, establishing needs related to permitting, equipment procurement, major systems (e.g., electrical and plumbing), and more.
- Project management and budgeting – With our vast network of suppliers and partners, we help you minimize costs and timelines with efficiency as a top priority.
- New construction design – We use CAD and other high-powered design tools to optimize your site layout.
- Facility renovation – We assist with planning every stage of the remodeling and upgrading process for existing facilities.
Designing the station is the first step in a refueling infrastructure project. What does that entail?
- Investigating and documenting the site conditions and challenges
- Choosing equipment and products that meet your needs and budget
- Creating designs for:
- Equipment layout
- Auxiliary structures (e.g., convenience stores)
- Major systems (e.g., structural, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, HVAC)
- Identifying materials within your budget
- Incorporating regulatory compliance (e.g., fire prevention equipment)
- Creating complete construction documents for permitting and reference throughout the build
But these steps don’t happen all at once. Designers complete them in phases, seeking stakeholder feedback after each deliverable stage. These phases and their deliverables can include:
- Pre-design – Zoning summaries and existing conditions drawings
- Schematic design – Preliminary floor, site, and facade plans
- Design development – Draft drawings and a specifications outline
- Construction documents – Complete drawings and specs for permitting and building
Designers also typically assist with the permitting process, consult during the bidding phase, and monitor document compliance during construction.
While the design and construction team generally applies for a building permit after the design documents are complete, permitting considerations are crucial from start to finish and significantly affect a project’s timeline. Alternative refueling station professionals must:
- Consider and meet applicable building codes during the design process
- Account for permitting costs in the budgeting phase
- Accommodate mandatory inspections in the construction schedule
- Submit construction document changes to the correct permitting authorities after permit issuance
- Acquire additional power from utilities as needed
- Follow local and federal requirements
An experienced construction partner’s ability to meet permitting requirements and account for related costs will separate them from their inexperienced competitors.
Engineering & Construction
To meet permitting and building code requirements in most jurisdictions, licensed professionals must design and certify project documents. Alternative refueling station projects are no exception.
Engineers are crucial in the construction industry. Throughout your project, your design team will connect you with engineers who:
- Specialize in a specific building system or discipline, including:
- Mechanical (HVAC)
- Fire protection
- Health and safety
- Design the portions of the scope related to their discipline
- Create materials lists and specifications according to their scope
- Certify and seal their design documents
- Oversee the parts of the construction process related to their discipline
These responsibilities also demonstrate how the individual steps to build an alternative fueling station will overlap rather than be executed in a rigid sequence and involve different teams. For example, engineers must consult with architects and designers on initial plans before permit applications are submitted.
The FASTECH team includes in-house engineers—a feature that saves stakeholders money and time throughout our projects.
Your alternative refueling station consultant or design partner may not have in-house tradespeople or supplies to complete your project on their own. Therefore, anything they can’t do in-house must be contracted to someone who can—a process called “procurement.”
Depending on your jurisdiction, procurement (or bidding) can occur before, during, or after the permitting phase. To complete this process, your expert partner will:
- Publish or distribute your project’s key documents—the drawings and specifications
- Request bids from companies specializing in the trades or materials needed
- Collect and review bids, comparing them to your project budget
- Make recommendations for trade, supplier or equipment selections
Alternative energy projects require highly specialized tradespeople and materials.ASTECH connects project stakeholders with our networks, helping them procure subcontractors with the most experience and products at the best prices.
After designing and engineering the project, receiving the required permits, and hiring subcontractors and suppliers, you’re ready to break ground on your new station. Watching your new station come to life is exciting, but it can be nerve-wracking without the right partners on board.
Throughout the process, your consulting, design, and construction partners will:
- Work according to established schedules
- Ensure that building trades precisely follow design documents
- Schedule and complete inspections with permitting authorities
- Manage material and equipment inventories on-site
- Establish and enforce health and safety standards
- Walk you through the site at regular intervals, answering questions and collecting feedback
An alternative energy refueling station project—like any other construction project—requires efficiency and careful management to stay on schedule and within budget.
Maintenance considerations are paramount throughout a project:
- Designers and engineers will take the following into account during the design phase:
- Life-cycle costs of systems and materials
- Building material and equipment durability
- Future upgrades or expansions
- Tradespeople will protect your equipment and materials during construction.
- Your consultant, designer, or builder will help you choose maintenance partners and strategies after construction is complete.
Whether they offer their own post-construction maintenance or connect you with a vendor for this purpose, an experienced alternative energy project partner will help you ensure that your project achieves (or outlives) its intended lifespan.
Testing & Compliance
As construction wraps up, your partner will help you test all of your alternative energy refueling station’s functions, safety features, and equipment. This might include:
- A “soft opening” to observe traffic flow and survey the user group
- An emergency response drill to test emergency shut-offs and fire suppression equipment
- Numerous test fillings to ensure all equipment functions properly
Using information from the testing phase, your partner will tweak material and equipment placements, settings, and functions to best meet the needs of users and stakeholders.
In addition to testing, your partner will walk you through the compliance process, ensuring that:
- Your station will pass its final building inspection
- Any requirements for applicable certifications are met
- Special designations (like LEED or Green Globes recognition) are applied
FASTECH: Your Partner in Alternative Energy Fueling Infrastructure
Alternative energy refueling station projects are exciting. They allow stakeholders to watch a new structure appear from the ground up, and signify progress toward a more sustainable future.
If you’re looking for consultancy, design services, construction, procurement, or compliance support for an upcoming alternative energy project, FASTECH is your partner of choice. Whether you’re ready to introduce your city to green hydrogen fueling or support a growing sustainable mass transit system in your region, we have the expertise and network to usher you into the future of energy.
After 20 years in fueling infrastructure, we’re forging a path ahead for alternative energy—and we’re just getting started. So tell us about your next project, and we’ll help you turn your green aspirations into a sustainable reality.