RALEIGH – The new Fort Macon State Park Coastal Education and Visitor Center has earned a gold rating in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
The gold rating is the second highest of four ratings in the certification program that has become an industry standard for environmentally-sensitive construction. The Fort Macon facility is the first non-university, state-owned building to earn the distinction.
The 22,547-square-foot education and visitor center at North Carolina’s second oldest state park was dedicated in October and is devoted to environmental education about the state’s fragile coastal ecology, offering 4,000 square feet of exhibit space, a teaching auditorium and classrooms.
“An important part of the mission of state parks is to exemplify good stewardship of our natural resources, and the Fort Macon facility serves that mission well,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “The LEED gold rating exceeds our mandate to make all new state park buildings energy efficient, and it’s the result of extraordinary effort by the building’s designer, the contractors and the park staff.”
The brick-and-block facility was designed by Hobbs Architecture, of Pittsboro, and the general contractor was Daniels & Daniels Construction Co. of Goldsboro. It is a close neighbor of the park’s 183-year-old fortress and reflects that attraction’s 19th Century military architecture. Funding for the project came from Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Construction began in April 2008.
Sustainable features that contributed to the gold rating include a sophisticated rainwater collection system and stormwater runoff controls, low-energy lighting, water-saving fixtures and preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles. Also, several tons of concrete construction debris was collected to contribute to an artificial, offshore reef.
The coastal education and visitor center is similar in function to visitor centers built at 20 state parks and state recreation areas since 1994. Established in 1924 when the fort was acquired from the federal government, Fort Macon State Park recorded 1.3 million visits in 2009.