Understanding LEED Certification and Forklift Battery Rooms

With the introduction of 2013’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Version 4 (LEED v4), it is less complex than ever for U.S. warehouses and distribution centers to obtain certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification provides numerous operational benefits, including lower energy costs and eligibility for governmental incentive programs.

Measures of sustainability such as LEED certification are also a priority for clients. A 2013 study from HEC Paris, a French business school, reports that 93 percent of surveyed companies consider sustainable procurement to be “critical,” or at least “important.” Ninety-one percent of the multinational companies surveyed weigh social responsibility when choosing their logistics suppliers.

Existing facilities can acquire certification through the LEED v4 Building Operations and Maintenance rating system -- and creating a sustainable battery room can help.

How Battery Management Contributes to LEED Certification

The LEED v4 Operations and Maintenance (O&M) certification requirements are divided into eight categories, with specific items weighted for their contribution to overall sustainability. A total of 40 credits is required for certification, with Silver, Gold and Platinum ratings available with higher scores. Battery room operation is relevant to three of the highest rated categories:

  • Water Efficiency (Two Prerequisites, 12 Available Credits)
  • Energy and Atmosphere (Four Prerequisites, 38 Available Credits)
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (Three Prerequisites, 17 Available Credits)

The battery room impacts each of these areas; battery handling and charging account for around 10 percent of electricity costs for most facilities, and without efficient watering and wash systems, battery maintenance places a sizable demand on the water supply. The battery charging process can also affect indoor air quality.

Here are some recommendations for meeting specific requirements from the LEED v4 Operations and Maintenance checklist in each of these three categories:

  • Green Battery Washing and Watering. Reducing indoor water use is a prerequisite for certification, and is also worth five credits. There are several opportunities to cut down on water usage in the battery room:

    1. Establish a closed-loop battery washing system by connecting a wash cabinet a wastewater recycling system. This way, the same volume of water can be used for multiple washes.
    2. Implement an automatic watering device, such as the BHS Integrated Watering System, to eliminate over-watering.
    3. Track all battery washing and watering with a battery fleet management system. When forklift batteries are kept on a regular schedule, water is not wasted on unnecessary maintenance tasks.

  • Efficient Battery Handling. The LEED O&M Energy and Atmosphere category carries more weight than any other category, with a possible 38 points available. A full 20 of those points come from meeting the “Optimize Energy Performance” requirement.

    Battery management can help check this item off the list. Using a fleet management system can minimize energy draws by tracking battery usage, and eliminate unnecessary fleet stores for even greater conservation. Choosing non-powered battery changing equipment whenever possible is also a great way to reduce electrical consumption, although this can negatively impact efficiency.

  • Battery Room Ventilation. In order to prevent dangerous hydrogen build-up during the charging process, battery rooms must be equipped with an appropriate ventilation system. The best systems combine hydrogen gas detectors with a powerful exhaust fan and adequate duct work to diffuse gasses. A hydrogen gas detector will activate the ventilation only when hydrogen levels exceeds 1%, thus conserving conditioned air when hydrogen levels are non-threatening. This complete ventilation system will help to meet the LEED requirement regarding minimum indoor air quality.

Green Forklift Battery Handling Practices Help Win LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council has many tools available for warehouse managers who are interested in pursuing LEED certification. With efficient battery handling equipment in place, your facility will be better prepared to comply with LEED standards, making certification much more likely.