Buzzards Bay Center

Institutional/Educational – Citation – (third) Buzzards Bay Center


Project Architect: Richard Renner

Project Team: William Reich W. W. Reich, Inc.

Consultants: Energy/Environmental Consultant: Marc Rosenbaum, Energysmiths Building Science Consultant: Camroden Associates, Inc. Structural Engineer: Aberjona Engineering, Inc. Mechanical Engineer: Petersen Engineering, Inc. Electrical Engineer: Ronald W. Buia, Inc. Lighting Design: J&M Lighting Design, Inc. Graphic Design: Friskey Design

Project Location: New Bedford, MA

Client: Buzzards Bay Coalition

General Contractor: Bufftree Building Company

Photo Credits: Peter Vanderwarker

Project Narrative

This green adaptive reuse of the 1832 Coggeshall Counting House resolves the apparent and widely discussed tension between historic preservation and sustainable design. The project, located in the New Bedford (Massachusetts) Whaling National Historic Park, creates a new headquarters for the Coalition for Buzzards Bay, an environmental advocacy and education organization dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Buzzards Bay.

Completed in strict conformance with Massachusetts Historic Commission and U.S. Department of Interior requirements, the renovation restored the exterior to its original appearance and revitalized the interior, where new offices, a laboratory, conference rooms, a meeting room, and a library support the Coalition’s programs. Visitor Center exhibits (also designed by the architect and its graphic design consultant) on the first floor describe the history of the Bay, water quality issues, threats to the Bay, and the building’s green features.


Measured energy use in the building over the last year was 62,619 KWH, or 18,765 Btu/sf/year, which compares favorably with the national average for office buildings of 60,000 Btu/sf/year. Sub-meters were installed to separately monitor elevator, lighting, and plug loads; these are read every month. HVAC loads were modeled at 17,263 Btu/sf/year; the actual metered consumption was 15,178 Btu/sf/year.

Design & Innovation

• Restoring an historic building preserved and enhanced the integrity of New Bedford’s waterfront and saved the “embodied” energy of the existing structure.

• Oil tanker accidents and spills are a threat to the health of the Bay, so the innovative air-source heat pump HVAC system eliminates any use of fossil fuel in the building. Electricity not offset by the solar collectors is purchased from green power producers.

Land Use & Site Ecology

• Using a previously developed site avoided further loss of undeveloped watershed land and did not contribute to suburban sprawl.

Light & Air

• All but one window on floors 2-4 are operable; all have angled interior sides to increase the distribution of natural light.

• Efficient light fixtures are used throughout, and occupancy sensors are located in key areas.

• Operable windows in new light monitors above the fourth floor Library and Meeting Room flood those spaces with north light and provide additional natural ventilation.

Water Cycle

• The vegetated roof reduces storm water runoff by up to fifty percent.

• Efficient plumbing fixtures reduce water demand.

Energy Flows & Energy Future

• A well-insulated envelope and solar power reduce and offset energy use.

• Levels of insulation were balanced with the historic regulations and the physical requirements (determined by testing) of preserving the exterior brick.

• The innovative, efficient air-source heat pump HVAC system satisfies the Coalition’s goal that no fossil fuels be used in the building.

Regional / Community Design

• The project strengthens the historic urban fabric of New Bedford.

• The project serves as an example of responsible development and adds a critical educational component to the waterfront experience in New Bedford.

Bioclimatic Design

Materials & Construction

• The damp, un-insulated space existing crawlspace below the first floor was eliminated by removing the heavy timber first floor structure, filling the void, and pouring a new insulated concrete slab.

• Timbers salvaged from the first floor were re-sawn into flooring that was used on the upper floors.

• Low- and no-VOC materials were used throughout.

Long Term Flexibility & Adaptability

• The design preserves the flexible and adaptable structure of the original warehouse.

• Services and support functions are located along the west wall, leaving the balance of the floor area easy to adapt to evolving needs.

Collective Wisdom & Feedback Loops

• Sub-meters make it possible to separately monitor and evaluate elevator, lighting, plug and HVAC loads.

• Exhibits in the Visitor Center and a graphic panel mounted on the outside of the building explain the green features of the building.

• Graphic signs mounted throughout the inside the building point out and explain green features.