Watershed Center

We are open daily and access is free. 

Our trails are free and remain open daily from dawn until dusk.

The Watershed Center for Environmental Advocacy, Science, and Education was designed and constructed to be a physical embodiment of the Watershed’s conservation mission. The Watershed Center opened to the public in May 2015, replacing the Buttinger Nature Center.

Certified as LEED-Platinum through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, the facility demonstrates innovative strategies for conserving and managing water and energy. Self-guided and prearranged staff-led tours of the Center and its many environmental features are available to visitors.


Weekdays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Most Holidays: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

There is no admission fee and access is free


The central hub for the organization’s conservation, advocacy, science and education programs, the Watershed Center includes modern classrooms, exhibit halls with live animal displays and interactive exhibits, a laboratory, computer learning center, conference rooms, gift shop, kitchen, and updated staff offices.

A sophisticated weather station, located near the Watershed Center, is part of a statewide weather and climate monitoring network administered by Rutgers University. Live information on a wide array of weather parameters is streamed to The Center is also the main point of departure for more than 10 miles of hiking trails through forests, meadows, wetlands and farmland.

The Center’s Betty Wold Johnson Learning Center hosts hundreds of programs and events each year. The Center contains two modern classrooms, which each accommodate 50 seated guests, 30 at desks. A dividing screen can be retracted to create one large room.

The Watershed Center’s laboratory, which supports research and monitoring by our staff and volunteer scientists, also contains space for 30 students. Margaret Rowland Gorrie Hall, the building’s entry pavilion, can accommodate events for 150 seated participants and 225 standing guests and our nearby Kingsford Community Room can host 45 students.

Rent Our Facilities

A major goal for the new LEED Platinum-certified Environmental Center is to consume little more, if any, energy than is produced on site. As much as 85 percent of the energy we use is generated from on-site renewable sources. The following are some of the key sustainable strategies we employ in the new center.

Our Green Roof will reduce stormwater runoff, improve insulation and extend the life of the roofing materials. By absorbing and storing water before returning it to the atmosphere, green roofs can reduce stormwater runoff by as much as 70 percent, according to US EPA.

Photovoltaic Panels generate non-polluting renewable energy from the sun to meet most, if not all, of our electricity needs.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling uses the Earth’s relatively constant temperature to help provide heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. Fluid will circulate through a network of pipes that are sunk in fourteen 400-foot deep wells. The system uses a heat pump to force the transfer of heat from and to the ground. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, geothermal systems can reduce energy use in heating by 30-70 percent and in cooling by 20-50 percent.

Rainwater Harvesting. Water is collected from the building’s roof to use in flushing toilets, thereby reducing our consumption of groundwater and the energy associated with pumping it, and reducing the amount of stormwater we produce.

The Solar Hot Water System uses an array of evacuated tubes to greatly reduce the convection and conduction heat loss of solar heated water, thereby achieving greater efficiency than other solar hot water systems.

Natural Passive Solar Day Lighting serve most of the building’s interior lighting needs on sunny days.

Rain Gardens employ water-loving plants and soil amendments to reduce and purify stormwater runoff and help recharge our aquifer.

Our innovative Wetlands-Based Wastewater Treatment System employs the natural cleansing action of plants, soil, and microorganisms to result in water that is cleaner than what is produced from traditional wastewater treatment systems and is more effective in infiltrating water into the aquifer.

Certified LEED Platinum from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, the Watershed Center demonstrates responsible technologies in areas including water conservation, energy efficiency, sustainable materials and resources, and innovation. Click to read more about our LEED certification.

Copyright © 2024 The Watershed Institute. All rights reserved.

Site by Scout Digital