“This is a center truly worthy of the Ocean State,” said Rhode Island’s governor, Gina Raimondo. “The state-of-the-art, sustainable design will allow Sail Newport to bring the magical experience of being out on the water to more Rhode Islanders. In particular, the center will teach our younger generation that these natural resources are gifts we must protect and preserve for the future.”
About 200 supporters attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where Raimondo spoke in August, at Sail Newport’s new Mid-Park Marine Education and Recreation Center. They included Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Janet Coit, director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; and, of course, Sail Newport’s executive director, Brad Read.
The 8,500-square-foot building in Fort Adams State Park meets the standards established by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building rating system that “provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.”
Construction materials come from sustainable sources, and the building qualifies as flood resilient under federal standards. The center operates with energy-efficient heating and cooling, solar power and a rainwater-harvesting system for irrigation, boat washing and restrooms.
Design features that reduce energy consumption include opening windows and a clerestory, which provide natural light, passive solar power in the winter and sea breezes in the summer.
Flood-resistant materials on the ground floor and in the center’s vents allow water to pass through the building during a flood, preventing or reducing damage to the structure. The first floor sits on composite Pearson pilings, giving it 5½ feet of freeboard, which compensates for wave action and factors that can contribute to higher flood levels. Freeboard also significantly lowers flood-insurance rates.
All sensitive mechanical and electrical equipment, including the elevator machinery, is above the floodplain. A check-valve/backflow preventer for the restrooms keeps floodwaters from entering the municipal sanitary sewer system and stops untreated wastewater from being discharged during a flood.
Various other materials and technologies also were used, including natural-certified Douglas fir above ground level; rooftop solar photovoltaic panels; a rainwater- harvesting system with a 10,000- gallon storage tank; structural insulated panels; first-floor linoleum flooring made with natural materials to be antibacterial and biodegradable; Andersen Stormwatch energy-efficient windows and doors; LED lighting controlled by CommandScape’s system for energy monitoring; paint that emits no volatile organic compounds; and counters made with recycled glass.
Sail Newport was founded in 1983 after Australia won the America’s Cup. Since then, it has expanded public-access sailing programs and marine education. The new center is designed to add to those efforts. “Not only do we now have a sustainable headquarters,” Read says, “this new center will serve the community with more public access sailing programs and access to Narragansett Bay.”
To hoist the sail on the future, the center is also home to a fourth-grade learn-to-sail program with Pell Elementary School. Sail Newport developed the program with Donna Kelly, a Newport public schoolteacher and former board member of Sail Newport, and Superintendent of Schools Colleen Burns Jermain. The program aligns with the school’s core curriculum in math, science, social studies and art.
“Kudos to Sail Newport and all partners involved in making this project a reality and continuing to enhance and promote Fort Adams as a destination,” Coit says. “I look forward to the many public programs and opportunities Mid-Park will offer — and the love of sailing and enjoyment of our parks that it will help inspire.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue.