Exploring Stormwater in the Southeast
Our marketing director, Shannon Currey, spent several days learning more about the world of stormwater. Find out why it's worth exploring.Read Post
Each year, the North Carolina Green Industry Council organizes a symposium on water. This year’s theme was green infrastructure, and the keynote address featured one of our favorite professors, Dr. Charlie Hall of Texas A&M University. He talked about the vital role green infrastructure will play in economic development. People are beginning to recognize and understand the importance of nature in the health and well-being of us all. People feel better and perform better in the presence of nature.
He emphasized that our industry must do a better job of helping the public see the value of what we do. Although we create and maintain green spaces that contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment, many of the products and services the green industry offers are reduced or eliminated when economic times are bad. Only 42% of American adults have purchased a plant in their lifetime. While that can be a dismaying statistic, Hall sees it as a great opportunity.
Hunter Freeman of WithersRavenel talked about green infrastructure projects in Chatham Park, a large, new community being constructed in central North Carolina. With a 30-year development plan, they’re aiming for sustainable, ecologically sound practices. He noted that as a civil engineer, he’s building what he calls “stormwater architecture.” He seeks to design stormwater controls that add value to surrounding land without anyone knowing it’s a BMP. They’re putting in green streets and other features that add beauty, functionality, and community amenities. This is decided shift in how they think about and design stormwater features.
David Tuchs from Equinox Environmental Design in Asheville, North Carolina noted that green infrastructure is the best way to increase resiliency in the face of extreme weather events such as increased flooding and heat waves. His firm practices integrated stormwater management. They use natural system that are more flexible than traditional systems in the face of changing conditions. He talked about several projects that place a premium on sustainability, resiliency, and providing additional ecosystem services.
His firm worked on the New Belgium Brewing Company’s East Coast Brewery. It’s located in Asheville on a brownfield site along the French Broad River. New Belgium wanted to use innovative design and sustainable solutions to site problems. They installed permeable pavement, bioswales, and other green infrastructure features, turning them into opportunities for recreation and education.
Hoffman Nursery helped sponsor the event because we’re convinced green infrastructure offers our industry a wealth of opportunities. We brought eleven team members to hear the talks and about learn more about what’s happening in the industry. We also had a display table, which gave us the chance to talk to even more people about what we’re doing and growing for these projects.
Bill Hunt of North Carolina State’s stormwater engineering group gave the final presentation of the symposium. His message was loud and clear: the future of stormwater management lies in green infrastructure and providing more ecosystem services. He said engineers and planners are beginning to adjust the way the choose and design for stormwater control. They’re considering other benefits that these projects can provide, including
He acknowledged that with limited resources, we must ask more of projects than to simply control and manage stormwater. It was exciting to hear him talk about all the benefits we can derive from green infrastructure. It also suggests a shift that will affect the green industry. As more planners, engineers, and landscape architects think about plants and specify them, we can be there to provide the plants and the expertise. And they’ll be asking for plants that provide multiple functions in the landscape and use fewer resources to maintain.
The event was exciting for our team for another reason, too. The NCGIC named Hoffman Nursery the Blue-Green Innovator of the Year. This award recognizes outstanding leadership and innovation in environmental stewardship in regard to water conservation, water use efficiency, and the development and implementation of green infrastructure (GI) by an individual, organization, or government entity. We’re honored and thrilled to receive this recognition, and we’ll continue to work toward a green future.