Who says construction isn’t cool? Given all the buzz about EVs (electric vehicles) these days, such as the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, one innovative contractor has decided to embrace the EV movement in a whole new way: electric forklifts.

Electrical contractor Rosendin Electric, www.rosendin.com, San Jose, Calif., has deployed a fleet of all-electric forklifts in its Bay Area warehouses. These slick new forklifts will replace the propane-powered ones that Rosendin had used in the supply yards of both its San Jose headquarters and its San Francisco location.

Rosendin continues to flex both its tech-savvy muscle and green nature through this announcement. The company that is progressive in such areas as enabling BIM-to-field applications and is an advocate of LEED sustainable construction and green building practices believes this latest announcement will be a tremendous saver to both cost and resources.

Perhaps unbeknownst to most, an EV deployment necessitates some comprehensive technology on the backend. For example, Rosendin will use smart-chargers to recharge the forklifts during off-peak hours. This requires an infrastructure that uses realtime data communication between the charger and the utility for the purposes of demand response, peak fueling rates, and other intelligent functionality.

Victor Mumford, fleet manager, Rosendin Electric, expounds on the savings, saying the longer Rosendin uses the forklifts, the more energy efficient they become due to the fact they can charge them when the electricity rates are low. Mumford says at this time they will only be used in the yards, as they are not suited for use on the jobsites.

According to Mumford’s estimates, converting to electrical forklifts will save thousands of dollars in operating costs, as well as almost 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, and 18,000 pounds of carbon monoxide. Battery life shouldn’t be an issue, as the life of the electric forklifts is estimated to be 15 years or more, which is comparable to diesel or propane forklifts. Based on current use patterns, Mumford estimates the forklifts can be charged once a week which should extend their usefulness and realize further savings in cost and energy.

Rosendin Electric is no stranger to energy-efficient fleets. In fact, it seems every two years the company is undergoing some effort to “green” its fleets. In 2006, the company provided its safety personnel with Ford Escape hybrids, which has saved an estimated 54 metric tons of carbon annually. In 2008, its superintendents were given hybrid pickup trucks, which have saved an addition 126 metric tons per year. Then in 2010, the general superintendents were given hybrid pickup trucks, saving 28 metric tons of carbon pollutants per year.