Coalition for Buzzards Bay Celebrates New Home

A pair of opening-day attendees visit the Richard Wheeler Bay Education Center, located on the ground floor of the new CBB Center. Photo by ##http://newenglandboating.com/author/tom## Tom Richardson##

August 27, 2010: The Coalition for Buzzards Bay (CBB), a non-profit environmental-advocacy group that for 23 years has sought to improve and maintain the overall health of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, held a ceremony and open house on Friday, August 27, to celebrate the opening of its new headquarters in downtown New Bedford. The CBB Center took roughly 1 year and $2.6 million to complete, with most of the funds coming from tax breaks. New England Boating was on hand for the grand opening, and got a firsthand look at the renovated 4-story building on Front Street, just across Rte. 18 from the commercial fishing docks and ferry terminal.

The CBB Center (formerly the Coggeshell Counting House) is located on Front St. in downtown New Bedford. Photo by ##http://newenglandboating.com/author/tom## Tom Richardson##

Visitors are welcomed to the facility via the Richard C. Wheeler Bay Learning Center, a public-education area with a giant “tabletop” map of the Buzzards Bay watershed occupying the center of the room. The map shows the current makeup of the watershed, including its wetlands, marshes, agricultural areas, rivers, forests, developed areas and more. Its massive scale and detail are impressive, and dramatically show the effect human development has on the watershed and the bay. Other exhibits in the learning center focus on oil-spill threats and prevention, invasive species, the effects of climate change, nitrogen pollution, and how individuals can make a difference in protecting Buzzards Bay. There are also a few small aquariums containing common bay plants and animals.

The original structure was built in 1832 by John Coggeshell, Jr., a prominent merchant and ship owner during New Bedford’s heyday as a whaling center.

Robert Hancock, CBB’s Vice President of Education and Public Engagement, explained that the ground floor of the building also houses a lab in which water samples will be analyzed to monitor the ongoing health of the bay.

The center’s 2nd and 3rd floors are dedicated to administrative offices, while the top floor contains a large meeting area, as well as a research library that Hancock hopes will become the definitive source of literature and reference materials relating to Buzzards Bay. Throughout the building are photos, paintings and sculptures relating to the local marine ecosystem, many of them donated by local artists. New work will also be displayed in the Center on a revolving basis.

As one might expect, the CBB Center is a thoroughly “green” building in both philosophy and design. For example, CBB opted to renovate an existing building rather than consume watershed space with new construction. To further reduce its ecological footprint, the Center features a partially vegetated roof designed to absorb and filter rainwater rather than funnel it directly into the city’s overburdened sewer system.

A giant map of the Buzzards Bay watershed greets visitors in the lobby area. Photo by ##http://newenglandboating.com/author/tom## Tom Richardson##

CBB also sought to use recycled materials in the center’s construction. Old timbers or flooring were reused whenever possible, and any new wood used in the framing or supports came from certified sustainable forests. To conserve energy and reduce heating and cooling costs, the building relies on thick walls filled with dense foam insulation and double-pane windows to regulate the interior temperature. Use of large, windows allow sunlight to warm the interior spaces and reduces the use of electricity for lighting, while photovoltaic panels on the roof deliver 10 percent of the building’s electrical needs. Water conservation is achieved through waterless urinals and low-flow toilets.

The new CBB Center is located at 114 Front Street. The original structure was built in 1832 by John Coggeshell, Jr., a prominent merchant and ship owner during New Bedford’s heyday as a whaling center. The building, originally called the Coggeshell Counting House, suffered several fires in the 20th century, rendering the upper floors unusable, while the downstairs was eventually occupied by the Harborside Bar.

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