8451 Willard Drive

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2011
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8451 Willard Drive

Fast Facts

Address: Breinigsville, Pennsylvania
Company/Developer: Liberty Property Trust
Project Specs: New Construction
Project Type: Industrial
Square Feet: 920,400

Project History: In 2005, Liberty purchased 112 acres in Breinigsville and combined them with existing parcels to create one of Lehigh Valley’s largest industrial parks, Liberty Business Center. Today, this campus consists of 575 acres with 14 buildings totaling over 7 million square feet. In 2007, Liberty considered developing a speculative warehouse. Despite not having a lead tenant, Liberty felt confident that market demand for high-end industrial product was rising. Before beginning design, they committed to construct this building to achieve LEED certication. Shortly after completion, two Fortune 500 companies came looking for space. After conducting an analysis of the market and competitive buildings, both companies became interested in 8451 Willard because of its unique logistical and economic benefits. Smuckers signed for 538,000 square feet and FedEx signed a lease to occupy the rest of the building.

Commitment to Sustainability

Liberty strives to create work environments that limit resource consumption, improve building performance, promote human health and productivity, reduce tenant operating costs and boost the long-term asset value of their properties. In 2008, Liberty formalized this commitment by incorporating sustainability into their five-year strategic plan, establishing a dedicated sustainability department and making sustainability goals a key corporate strategy. Liberty wrote and adopted a corporate sustainability statement to help guide decisions throughout the organization and confirm their commitment to the advancement of responsible commercial real estate. In 2009, Liberty committed to reduce the average energy consumption of their portfolio 30 percent by 2012 over their 2008 baseline. Liberty is also a part of the BOMA 7-point Challenge.

Green Features

Economic Analysis

  • Since achieving 100 percent occupancy in 2010, the entire building has remained leased and fully occupied whereas big box buildings in Lehigh Valley have had an average vacancy rate of 5.3 percent. When compared against the average annual rent income for big box properties in Lehigh Valley (warehouses with 750,000 SF or larger) the annual rent generated by the property is two percent above market. When accounting on a square foot basis, the annual rent generated by the property exceeds the market average for comparable buildings by four percent.
  • The fact that tenants are willing to pay modestly above market rents for this space indicates the clear competitive advantage of the building. The superior accessibility of the site makes the project appealing to companies with optimized supply chains. The high performance green design of the building boosts operating efficiencies remarkably to realize significant cost savings.
entrance to 8451 Willard Drive

Site Sustainability/Materials Use

  • During the design and construction phase, the team selected materials that were locally produced and/or contained a high recycled content. Twenty-five percent of the building materials were resourced from recycled materials including steel and concrete (over $2.2 million worth of material). The project team followed a self-imposed requirement that 100 percent of all wood products be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
  • To reduce the environmental degradation from carbon emissions associated with the transportation of materials, the project ensured 56 percent of the building material used, ($4 million worth of material), were extracted, processed and manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the project site. This also helped support the local economy by using regionally produced materials.
  • Of the materials used, 86 percent or 271 tons of all waste generated during construction was diverted from landfills through a sustainable recycling program. The program accounted for both the ongoing storage and collection of recyclable materials.
  • All interior and exterior applied construction adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings contained low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds) content and carpet systems are Green Label Plus certified.
  • There was a conscious effort to incorporate sustainable practices that protect the environment and the facility occupants.
  • The landscaping and exterior of the building were designed with energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact as a primary focus. Onsite vehicle parking capacity was designed to equal the minimum amount required by local zoning to encourage the use of public and alternative transportation. In addition, a 100 percent dark sky compliant exterior lighting with shielding was installed to prevent light spilling into the night sky and adjacent properties.
  • Liberty integrated 26.3 acres of vegetated open space into the design, exceeding the code minimum by 21.4 acres or 442 percent.  Approximately 90 percent or 26 acres of landscape is designed with either an extremely low maintenance steep slope mix that requires no mowing or a wildflower meadow mix that requires mowing once a season after flowering in the fall. This not only reduces the need for mowing and irrigation but provides more habitat for native species.

Energy Efficiency

  • An energy model was built to model energy performance for all systems and performance is monitored on a real-time basis to ensure the building continues to perform as designed.
  • The team used highly efficient T5 Output high bay fixtures, which is 15–20 percent more efficient, to improve light quality and increase productivity. They also reduce the number of light fixtures needed.  The light bulbs contain 50 percent less mercury than standard lamps.
  • A closed loop solar water heater was installed for domestic hot water service. The building has a 92 percent AFUE rated, 100 percent outside air heating system.
  • Energy usage is tracked through Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager. When the building became Energy Star certified in April 2011, it had an Energy Star rating of 96. When compared to the national average relative to this building type, it performs with 68 percent more energy efficiency. Electricity costs are about $.98 per SF less than the national average for this building type. On a 920,400 SF building, this translates to $901,992 in operating savings per year.
8451 Willard Drive interior view

Water Efficiency

  • The design team developed interior and exterior water efficiency techniques, which have helped the building save a significant amount of water over the course of its life cycle to date.
  • The landscape contains both native plants (which require less water, fertilizer and pest control) and adaptive plants (disease resistant and require less water due to easy acclimation with rainfall, soil and temperature). As a result, no permanent irrigation systems were installed and chemical runoff from fertilizers and pest control eliminated.
  • The bathrooms contain dual-flush toilets and waterless urinals, which significantly cut down on/or eliminate the gallons per flush used.  Water is also conserved with low flow water fixtures. Collectively, the dual-flush toilets, waterless urinals, and low flow water fixtures reduce water use by 30 percent and are expected to save 110,500 gallons of water annually. These fixtures amount to a 22.5 percent water savings over minimum code required fixtures.


  • Several novel approaches were implemented. All of the innovative features were initiated, with construction beginning, just as the economic downturn began in 2008/2009. Nevertheless, it was Liberty’s position that a dedication to sustainability would provide a competitive market advantage.
  • Liberty provided the tenants with a document entitled, “Green Guidelines.” These guidelines detail how to initiate sustainable fit-outs and operations and maintenance strategies and open the door to collaboration between tenant and landlord to achieve sustainability objectives. Liberty offers its tenants information describing how to achieve LEED certification for their fit-out projects through USGBC and GBCI.
  • The project extended major consideration of the source of potential pollutants and developed strategies to eliminate the presence of both mercury and exterior materials capable of emitting volatile organic compounds. This concern for safety and environmental pollutants induced LEED to award Innovation in Design credits for the project.