By Charis Anderson
NEW BEDFORD — The Coalition for Buzzards Bay officially opened the doors Friday at its new headquarters, a multimillion-dollar “green” renovation of the historic Coggeshall Counting House on Front Street.
The $2.6 million rehabilitation preserved and restored the building’s historic exterior while upgrading the interior into a modern facility designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible, according to coalition officials.
“This is a very exciting day for our organization, for the ongoing revitalization of New Bedford’s waterfront … (and for) the future of green building,” coalition President Mark Rasmussen said at a press conference Friday celebrating the building’s opening.
One of the unique aspects of the building’s design is its vegetated roof, which is covered in multiple varieties of sedum, a succulent ground cover that will absorb and hold about 60 percent of the rain that falls on it, preventing the water from running into the city’s sewer system.
However, according to Rasmussen, a big part of what makes the building so energy efficient — it will use 35 percent less electricity than a typical building its size — is the attention that was paid to sealing its envelope as tightly as possible.
During construction, the crew took a smoke machine into one of the completed rooms, turned it on, then shut the doors to the room, Rasmussen said.
Outside, workers looked to see where smoke was escaping from the room, such as through the small gaps between the 2-by-4 planks, he said.
That simple, low-tech process allowed the crew to identify gaps in the envelope and seal them during construction, Rasmussen said, creating a tighter, more efficient building.
Solar panels on the roof will provide about 10 percent of the building’s electricity, and there is room to install additional ones, he said.
The coalition will be able to monitor what part of the building — plugs, lights, the elevator, etc. — is using the most electricity and direct the solar-generated power to that function, he said.
Other environmentally friendly features include carpets made of recycled materials, double- and triple-glazed windows, low-flow toilets and an energy recovery ventilation system, according to information from the coalition.
“Today, the coalition is walking the walk, not just talking the talk, of environmental stewardship,” state Rep. John Quinn, D-Dartmouth, said during the press conference.
Mayor Scott W. Lang praised the coalition for its fortitude in pursuing the project even after the economy crashed.
The coalition has converted the Coggeshall Counting House, which has stood on the corner of Front and Hamilton streets for almost 180 years, into a building for the 21st century, he said.
It’s “a building that leads the way, that will set an example for our historical development and the city,” he said.
The building’s second and third floors will house the coalition’s staff. The public will have access to a first-floor environmental education center that features a model of the Buzzards Bay watershed, and to a meeting room and library on the fourth floor.
August 28, 2010 12:00 AM