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News & Press: Press Release

FLASLA Member Glenn Acomb Featured In Stormwater Magazine

Wednesday, May 14, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jon Shiver
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http://www.stormh2o.com/SW/Articles/Reader_Profile_Glenn_Acomb_24838.aspx

To accomplish their tasks effectively, stormwater managers often look to institutions of higher learning to help sort out options and keep them abreast of new developments. Glenn Acomb, FASLA, is happy to oblige. He’s a senior lecturer in green infrastructure design and construction at the University of Florida’s (UF’s) Department of Landscape Architecture, teaching skills he honed for 25 years as a landscape architect and planner. His research focuses on green roof design and performance and on plant communities—especially in hot-humid climates—as well as site design for sustainable landscape and hydrologic systems. Acomb’s stormwater interest is rooted in low impact development (LID) practices, particularly designs reflecting historic hydrologic conditions and incorporating natural drainage systems and devices. He’s researched the effects of high-speed wind uplift (hurricane-level winds) on green roof assemblies, both built-in-place and modular tray forms. Along with a colleague in UF’s Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, Acomb has tested a variety of plants in growth media depths of 4, 6, and 8 inches at varying wind speeds for their performance on flat, parapet roofs, monitoring aggregate displacement, tolerance limits, root strength, and resilience. He’s also researched cost comparisons of conventional versus sustainable LID design techniques using both capital cost and maintenance cost comparisons on a single-family, quarter-acre lot community in Gainesville, FL, developed as a joint venture with UF’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities, a cross-discipline research consortium he cofounded. His findings: LID sustainable design practices saved 10% of site development costs and 50% of annual maintenance costs.

What He Does Day to Day
Acomb is devoted to teaching, research, and practice. He can be found working with students in a classroom emphasizing design and site planning using green infrastructure, evaluating a site for a bioswale, or working on the UF green roof he codesigned in 2007 as a laboratory and educational tool to demonstrate water conservation, technology, plant material selection, and maintenance.

What Led Him Into This Field
Acomb holds a BLA from Louisiana State University and an MLA from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. He was drawn to landscape architecture as a creative and artful profession incorporating human uses, technology, and architecture within a site’s natural systems.

"Designing for a site’s hydrologic and ecologic health is especially important in my work,” he says. "Another facet of the field is its multi-disciplinary nature and the ability to work together for the common good. It is difficult for one profession to produce a design that is truly successful in function, natural systems, and human use and sustainability. The best solutions are designs that include engineers, landscape architects, hydrologists, architects, geotechnical professionals, and environmental scientists collaborating together.”

What He Likes Best About His Work
"My greatest joy is seeing my students succeed and acknowledge how they have learned and grown since my class instruction,” says Acomb.

Case in point: UF won first place for a large institution in the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge, a national competition to design green infrastructure improvements for campuses. The UF design incorporated a central pedestrian corridor on a campus lawn with an integrated system of green infrastructure practices to improve infiltration and stabilize ecosystem conditions in Lake Alice by using naturalistic rain gardens and bioswales, two architectural collection pools, a green wall, a green roof, and a garden. "The excitement and pride of the team’s accomplishment of winning a national championship is an incredible feeling,” notes Acomb. "Our team of eight landscape architecture and four engineering students made me proud of what the future holds for our professions.”

His Biggest Challenge
Keeping up with technological advancements and successfully creating a classroom experience illustrating how science must be integrated into living, natural systems that humans will appreciate are Acomb’s biggest challenges.

"As research advances what we do, the changes and systems connections grow exponentially into a variety of areas,” says Acomb. "When new technology is applied to stormwater management, it affects the hydrologic system, changes the natural systems, affects human use or acceptance, changes real estate development, and alters operation and maintenance procedures and budgets. These impacts must be explored, researched, and understood within its life cycle if we are to be successful and sustainable.”


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