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Pushing to Improve Sustainability in Aquatics

by Josh Martin, President, Aquatic Design & Engineering

Aquatic Design & Engineering (ADE) was founded 28 years ago to provide sound engineering for aquatic features. Over time, we have refined and focused in on what our mission and values as a company should be — specifically with regard to developing enduring engineering solutions. As we moved toward those goals of sustainability and innovation, more and more our company’s mission became aligned with that of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), and now in retrospect, it is no surprise to me that we found a home with this organization.

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At its core, the Landscape Architecture Foundation is a community of thought leaders who are passionate about elevating the practices in our industry. ADE became involved through LAF board members reaching out to their development partners, consultants and clients. I got a phone call from then- board member Gregg Sutton of EDSA telling me that LAF was something that ADE had to be a part of. He was right. I think that Gregg and others saw that ADE was interested in sustainability, but had yet to be challenged to really elevate its practices. Being involved with LAF has stretched us to do that.

While our company focused on delivering engineering that placed an emphasis on high-performance systems, we had not engaged fully with the industry’s movement toward sustainability. One of the main reasons was presumed additional costs for developers. Through our discussions with LAF board members and using the resources of LAF’s Landscape Performance Series, we have been able to develop life cycle costing for key components and provide sustainable engineering practices. The inspiration and passion of those board members encouraged us to continue improving the way water features and aquatic facilities are engineered.

ade-polytechnic-600wADE provided the hydraulic, pneumatic, and electrical engineering services for Florida Polytechnic University's lakes, which include air pods, an aeration system, and special technology at the litoral shelf.

ADE has placed a focus on innovating new, sustainable systems for our aquatics over the last few years in a fresh way. To echo the sentiments of LAF, we believe that water is a precious resource, but also a resource that can help create more engaging environments and amenities. Eliminating water features altogether in the name of sustainability would have a negative impact on future projects like community parks, public plazas and commercial developments. Instead, we focus on engineering these features in a sustainable way, thus enhancing the environment and helping the community as a whole.

An example of sustainable aquatics is a project ADE is working on for Walt Disney World’s multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, a vibrant district that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside towns that dotted the Florida landscape. “The Disney Springs” is a water feature that will utilize the highest performance technology available. ADE has implemented filtration technology that creates as much as an 80% reduction in water lost to waste.

Outside of our work with Walt Disney World, our team is designing low-chlorine fountains and pools that use only the minimum required amount of chlorine. We also place a strong emphasis on incorporating design methods to reduce water lost during non-peak hours. These are just a few of the ways that ADE is innovating to improve sustainability in aquatics, and LAF has been a source of support and inspiration for that growth.

Josh Martin, MBA is the president of Aquatic Design & Engineering in Orlando, Florida. ADE specializes in sustainable, innovative aquatic features that create engaging environments for the community.

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