Professor of Environmental Engineering Sciences
Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
Timothy Townsend began his research career in the self-described position of waste management engineer. Now, his efforts focus on determining how to operate landfills using more protective and sustainable technologies and applying different methods for mitigating environmental impacts of construction and demolition debris.
Townsend is especially interested in the transition from waste management to sustainable materials management and the difficult issues that arise from the corresponding nexus of engineering, policy, planning and social concerns.
“The United States lags behind many parts of the world with respect to recycling and advanced waste management, but in recent years, there has been a paradigm shift toward more sustainable practices, such as Sustainable Materials Management (SMM),” Townsend said.
The EPA’s definition of SMM positions it as a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles.
“This represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection,” Townsend said. “My students and I believe our research ought to support society’s management of resources that have historically been discarded.”
Accordingly, Townsend’s research program has been formative in helping state regulators develop guidance and management for the multiple waste streams in Florida. It has helped local county governments with their respective waste management challenges, such as drinking water sludge, street sweeping and construction and demolition debris disposal. Currently, he has research grants in the following counties: Alachua, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Pasco.
Townsend possesses a full record of demonstrated technology implementation, research publications (180 refereed publications), and graduated students based on these topics. Springer published his recent book, Sustainable Practices for Landfill Design and Operation, and he plans to cement his contributions to these research areas in his upcoming book on the subject of construction demolition and debris management. From 1996 to 2015, Townsend received more than $8.7 million in funding, and he has accounted for more than $780,000 in research grants since 2017. These current funding sources are varied, ranging from the Hinkley Center to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2016, Townsend received the John J. McCreary Outstanding Faculty Award from his Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, and he was elected to the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association Hall of Fame in 2015. He currently supervises 10 doctoral students and 11 ME/MS students.