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Poorly Planned Development

Poorly planned development

Sprawling, poorly planned development is a significant threat to the health of Buzzards Bay. Learn More ›


The Buzzards Bay Center

Solar panels and green roof on Buzzards Bay Center
The Buzzards Bay Center has a green roof and solar panels, which help us use less energy and reduce pollution to the Bay. (Image: John Robson)

The Buzzards Bay Center in historic downtown New Bedford is more than just the Coalition’s headquarters. It is a learning center, a community resource, and a model for environmentally responsible design. Built in 1832, the Buzzards Bay Center was renovated using green features that help save energy and protect our local waters.

In addition to staff offices, the Buzzards Bay Center is home to the Richard C. Wheeler Bay Learning Center, the Emerson Riggs Laboratory (home of the Baywatchers program), and the Croll Conference Room, a community meeting space.

What makes the Buzzards Bay Center a green building?

Natural light pours into the Buzzards Bay Center library
Natural daylight pours into the Buzzards Bay Center’s fourth-floor library from skylights and angled window openings. (Image: Peter Vanderwarker)

The Buzzards Bay Center is a model for environmentally responsible building renovation. The center uses a number of “green” features that save energy and reduce polluted runoff.

Buildings are responsible for nearly half of all the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The Buzzards Bay Center uses less than one-third of the electricity of an average office building, which saves energy and protects the environment.

From its location in a historic building to the plants and solar panels on the roof, the Buzzards Bay Center exemplifies the Coalition’s sense of responsibility to our land and water. These green features are cost-effective, proven techniques that any business or homeowner can use.


Rent the Croll Conference Room

Croll Conference Room at the Buzzards Bay Center

Looking for a space in downtown New Bedford to use for your next meeting or event? Choose the Croll Conference Room at the Buzzards Bay Center!

For details, contact Lynn Coish at (508) 999-6363 ext. 200 or download our rental policy.

Forests, marshes, and other important natural areas are dwindling because of poorly planned development. That’s why the Coalition renovated the Coggeshall Counting House – an existing space in the heart of downtown New Bedford – instead of constructing a new building.

By “reusing” this building, we saved important wildlife habitats, reduced the need for new materials, and invested in the future of New Bedford’s revitalized historic district.

Water Conservation

Water is at the very core of our work at the Buzzards Bay Coalition. To curb our own water use, the Buzzards Bay Center is outfitted with water-saving fixtures such as waterless urinals and low-flow toilets.

Vegetated Roof

Perhaps the "greenest" aspect of the Buzzards Bay Center is its roof. Instead of a typical roof of tar and shingles, ours is covered with a four-inch carpet of plants and soil.

Plants on a roof may seem like a bad idea. But a green roof is actually a creative solution to a serious problem. It keeps the building cooler in the summer, saving energy. And the plants absorb rain during storms, which reduces polluted runoff from our building by more than 50 percent.

By stopping rain from flowing off our building, the Coalition is providing an important model for tackling stormwater runoff in New Bedford. The city's local waterways suffer from pollution from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), which dump raw sewage into the water during heavy rainstorms.


The Buzzards Bay Center takes advantage of natural daylight, which limits our need for artificial lighting. Skylights and lots of big windows with angled openings let sunlight pour into the building. And an open floor plan maximizes everybody’s access to natural light.

An open floor plan maximizes access to natural light
An open floor plan maximizes access to natural light. (Image: Peter Vanderwarker)

Renewable Energy

Natural light is nice, but we also put the sun to work. Solar panels on the roof convert the sun’s rays into electricity. These panels produce more than 4,000 kWh of clean energy a year – about 8 percent of the building's total electricity needs.


Sustainable, local, and recycled – that was our checklist for building materials in the Buzzards Bay Center.

  • Lumber was harvested from certified sustainable forests.
  • Carpenters reused old timbers found in the building to create hardwood flooring.
  • The carpets are made from recycled materials. They are completely recyclable themselves.

Building Envelope

The center’s most important energy-saving feature is buried deep in the walls. It’s insulation – dense foam that separates the interior walls from the exterior brick and granite. These thick, insulated walls keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer. In addition, every seam and crack was filled to keep drafty air from moving in and out of the building.

Mechanical Systems

Given the serious threats that fuel poses to Buzzards Bay – both as it is shipped through the Bay and as a result of global warming – the Coalition aims to minimize the use of fossil fuels at the Buzzards Bay Center.

With its tight building envelope, the center uses smaller, more efficient air-source heat pumps and energy recovery ventilation systems. In addition to being bright and sunny, the building’s interior spaces are comfortable and full of fresh air.

What is the history of the Buzzards Bay Center?

The Buzzards Bay Center in 1908 (left) and 2010 (right)
The Coggeshall Counting House in 1908 (left) and the Buzzards Bay Center at its grand opening in 2010 (right).

Long before it was the Buzzards Bay Center, our building played an important role in New Bedford’s whaling history. After decades of neglect, the Buzzards Bay Coalition purchased and restored the building.

19th century: A center of the whaling industry as the Coggeshall Counting House

The Coggeshall Counting House was built in 1832 by John Coggeshall, Jr., a prominent merchant and ship owner in New Bedford.

The four-story building served New Bedford’s whaling industry. On the first floor, there was a chandlery where candles were made. The second floor housed counting rooms. The top floors served as space for sail and rigging lofts.

Awards for the Buzzards Bay Center

The Buzzards Bay Center has earned the following awards for its innovative combination of green design and historic renovation.

Because of its role in the whaling industry, the Buzzards Bay Center is today part of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

20th century: A neglected and deteriorating eyesore

As New Bedford’s whaling industry waned, so did the Coggeshall Counting House. A series of fires damaged the building, including one in 1939 that destroyed its roof. By the 1960s, the upper floors were burned out and vacant.

21st century: Brought to new life as the Buzzards Bay Center

In the early 2000s, the Buzzards Bay Coalition was looking for a new home. Our staff was growing, and we wanted to create a community space where people could learn about Buzzards Bay. Instead of constructing a new building, we chose to find an existing place where we could move.

In 2008, we purchased the Coggeshall Counting House. Over the next two years, we renovated the building, honoring its past while creating a new, bright future.

  • Architects restored the building’s façade to its former beauty. Using historical photos, they replicated the original doors, windows, and decorating molding.
  • With lots of environmentally friendly features, the building saves energy and reduces pollution.

On August 26, 2010, the Coalition christened the former Coggeshall Counting House as the Buzzards Bay Center.