5901 Holabird Avenue - Chesapeake Commerce Center

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2009
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5901 Holabird distribution center

Fast Facts

Address: Baltimore, Maryland
Company/Developer: Duke Realty Corporation
Project Specs: Speculative
Project Type: Warehouse/Distribution
Square Feet: 117,600

Project History: When General Motors put its former plant near the Port of Baltimore up for sale, Duke saw the site as an ideal opportunity to acquire land and redevelop it into a modern distribution park. In 2006, Duke began redevelopment of the GM brownfield site, which involved razing a 71-year old, 3.2-million-square-foot plant, resolving environmental issues and constructing new state-of-the art industrial buildings. Duke took the initiative to develop 5901 Holabird Avenue as a LEED Core and Shell certified industrial building. It is the first industrial building in Maryland to receive this designation. Originally developed as a speculative building, the building is 100 percent leased to Johns Hopkins Home Care and Transoceanic/Agility Project Logistics.

Commitment to Sustainability

Duke has placed a priority on developing more energy-efficient buildings and meeting changing design expectations. Duke has taken several steps to ensure it is developing environmentally friendly buildings, including the ongoing design and construction of facilities that meet the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) standards within its LEED criteria. Additionally, Duke has committed a substantial investment in training and certifying associates within each Duke market under the USGBC's LEED Accredited Professional program. The program not only demonstrates environmental stewardship and associated knowledge, but also serves as a clearinghouse for innovative ideas in building design, construction, maintenance and operation. Duke also evaluates existing properties to determine the modifications that would be needed for buildings to earn a LEED-EB (Existing Building) rating. 

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • Part of Duke's remediation strategy for this Brownfield site was to place a cap on the existing contaminated soil using clean fill dirt. This cap was then used as the building pad, which saved more than $100,000 on earthwork costs.
  • Asphalt and concrete from the original GM facility were processed and reused as a stone base for the building slab and new pavement areas, saving approximately $300,000 in new material purchases.
  • High-quality materials were used throughout the structure, ensuring that the facility will endure for decades to come.
  • Though Duke spent $60,000 in design fees, lighting upgrades and other sustainable initiatives to receive LEED certification, the company considers this investment negligible compared to the cost effectiveness of site redevelopment.
  • Chesapeake Commerce Center has been designated an Enterprise Zone and received Brownfield tax credits and other financial incentives for end users.

Site Sustainability/Materials Use

front entrance to 5901 Holabird distribution center
  • During the demolition phase, 96 percent of the old plant or 98,000 tons of steel, concrete, asphalt and brick were recycled, with some being reused in new construction on the site. Crushed concrete, asphalt and masonry materials from the existing structures were processed by an onsite concrete crusher and used to form stone bases for the new buildings. This process also saved fuel by eliminating the need for transport to a landfill and reducing traffic congestion.
  • The building is surrounded by a great deal of open space, with green spaces and trees to control soil erosion. Twenty percent of Chesapeake Commerce Center is open/regulated space.
  • The building's location facilitates employees' use of alternative and public modes of transportation. Five percent of the total parking capacity at the site is reserved for fuel-efficient vehicles, while pedestrian access has been incorporated between adjacent buildings to encourage foot traffic. 
  • MTA (Maryland Transit Administration) has a bus stop in front of the building to provide easy access to public transportation.
  • Benches, planters, and gathering pods are conducive to employees enjoying the fresh air during breaks and lunch.
  • Twenty-eight percent of the materials used in the construction of the building, including steel, precast, masonry, concrete and roofing materials, came from recycled content. Low VOC-emitting materials, such as paints, adhesives and sealants, were used.
  • More than 80 percent of all building material was manufactured and harvested regionally. Regional products used in the project include concrete, asphalt, precast, steel and glass.
  • More than 95 percent of the waste materials that were generated during construction were diverted from a landfill destination and recycled. A total of 135 tons of wood, cardboard and paper, concrete and bricks, metals, glass and plastics were recycled.
  • Duke implemented an indoor air quality plan in the construction phase to reduce potential problems. For example, onsite or installed materials that have a high absorbency, such as insulation, were protected and air-handling systems had a minimum efficiency reporting value of eight, thereby controlling exhaust fumes and dust.
5901 Holabird distribution center under construction

Energy Efficiency

  • Both base building and tenant sub-metering of electricity use is being done to ensure accuracy and verify use. Energy-efficient T5 fluorescent light fixtures were used in lieu of industry-standard metal halide fixtures. In addition, an extensive commissioning process was completed on the building. Duke's property management and operations group continually monitor the building's systems to maximize their efficiency.
  • To reduce energy usage, a white TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin membrane) roof system has been installed on 5901 Holabird Avenue to combat the heat island effect. A TPO roof's high level of reflectivity often exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Performance levels. TPO membranes also are highly resistant to mold and algae growth, which can degrade the overall reflectivity of the roof and reduce anticipated energy savings.

Water Efficiency

  • To minimize water usage, native drought-tolerant plantings have been used in the landscaping surrounding the building. These plantings are natural to the local area, which allow them to thrive in the environment, with little to no maintenance. These efforts have resulted in a minimally irrigated, aesthetically-pleasing and environmentally-friendly landscaping that is efficient and cost effective.
  • Another step taken to conserve water was the installation of dual-flush toilets and automatic low flowing faucets in the restrooms in the building. By using such efficient fixtures, water efficiency has been maximized, conserving more than 40 percent of the water used throughout the building.


  • As mentioned previously, Duke is one of the first commercial real estate companies to take the initiative and develop a LEED speculative industrial building. Duke's first attempt resulted in 5901 Holabird Avenue being designated as a LEED Core and Shell certified building and the first industrial building in Maryland to receive LEED certification.
  • Duke has initiated a green educational outreach program for the tenants of Chesapeake Commerce Center. Tenants of the park are given an annual publication promoting ways to be more sustainable as a company and as individuals. The two tenants were given a presentation on the building's green features.
  • Duke will be creating an area near the building with a sign indicating its LEED designation that will include plantings and park benches. This area will highlight the park's sustainability features and give tenants and the public a place to eat lunch.