Advancing Sustainable Stormwater Management in the Chesapeake Bay Region: Use of Innovative Biochar Technology for High Performance, Climate-Friendly Green Infrastructure

Advancing Sustainable Stormwater Management in the Chesapeake Bay Region: Use of Innovative Biochar Technology for High Performance, Climate-Friendly Green Infrastructure


This presentation will overview the advanced use of biochar technology for sustainable stormwater management within the Chesapeake Bay Region. Biochar, a carbonaceous material synthesized through pyrolysis or gasification of (primarily) agricultural and forest wastes or biomass, offers numerous benefits, including enhanced soil fertility, improved water retention, pollutant filtration and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Biochars are considered carbon negative because the thermochemical processes used in their production sequester carbon into highly stable fixed carbon content, ranging from 30+% to 80+%, depending on the feedstock. This carbon sequestration contributes to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and can qualify for carbon credits, supporting a climate-friendly circular economy.

Biochars are fast becoming components of innovative practices in the stormwater industry – primarily as a green infrastructure bioretention amendment. The ability of various biochars to adsorb and neutralize a range of pollutants – organic and inorganic, significantly increase soil porosity and water-retention capacity, retain and slowly release non-soluble nutrients for plant uptake, and improve soil microbiota also make them ideal for supporting and expediting vegetative growth. Physical and chemical adsorption attributes of biochars contribute to binding and elimination of harmful contaminants in stormwater treatment systems. Biochar-amended biofiltration systems have been found to efficiently remove a wide range of pollutants, including total nitrogen (32 – 94%), total phosphorus (45 – 99%), heavy metals (27 – 100%), organics (54 – 100%), microbial pollutants (log10 removal: 0.78 – 4.23), as well as per-and polyfluoroalkyl “forever chemicals” and other emerging toxics from urban runoff and contaminated soil and water.
The presentation will also address the roles of various biochars in green infrastructure, emphasizing biochars’ ability to address environmental challenges in a changing climate. The session will cover next-generation green infrastructure designs that incorporate targeted biochars, and their demonstrated capacity to enhance green stormwater management, improving water quality, and reducing pollutant loads.

Speaker Bio:


Dominique Lueckenhoff

Dominique Lueckenhoff serves as the Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs, EHS & Sustainability and Director, Climate & Envirotech Innovation at Hugo Neu Corporation. Reporting to the Chair and CEO, she leads the company’s global efforts in corporate sustainability, climate resiliency, environment, health and safety compliance, practices and policy, public and community affairs, and green business, particularly green treatment technologies growth and investment with a focus on community health and regeneration, and on Kearny Point, Hugo Neu’s billion-dollar sustainable redevelopment commercial/industrial campus. Ms. Lueckenhoff also manages Hugo Neu’s sponsorship support and partnership with a variety of public, private, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions, including that of the Stevens Institute of Technology’s Environmental Engineering Sustainability Management Program, supporting the Hugo Neu Sustainability Seminar Series and graduate student mentoring activities. 
Beyond her immediate corporate responsibilities, she serves on the Board of the Stevens Institute of Technology Schaefer School of Engineering and Science, as a Senior Fellow for the US Water Alliance, is an Associate Professor of Practice on the faculty of Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability, chairs the National Municipal Stormwater Association’s (NMSA) Community-Based Public Private Partnerships (CBP3) Center of Excellence for Water, Energy and Equitable Economic Resilience, a community-centric alternative financing, delivery and O&M jobs growth program she launched for driving and financing large-scale green infrastructure during her career at USEPA. Lueckenhoff also serves as Board Vice-Chair of Philippe Cousteau’s Earth Echo International NGO, serves on the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) Stakeholder Advisory Panel, participates on National Water Steering Committee of the American Sustainable Business Council and is a member of the US Biochar Initiative and participated on the steering committee of the Chesapeake Bay Biochar Science and Technical Committee (STAC) workgroup. She has also served as an Environmental Justice Advisor for a variety of organizations and expert panels, including Carbon 180 and the USEPA Environmental Justice program. Additionally, her entrepreneurial drive for climate-smart solutions has led to the recent business launch of EcoChar Environmental Solutions, for which she serves as President. The company employs decarbonization technologies and scientifically tailored biochars for cost- effective treatment and remediation of contaminated soil and water. 
Lueckenhoff is also a member of Chief, a national network focused on connecting and supporting exemplary women executive leaders. Recognized as a national thought leader and expert in green infrastructure innovations, equity, community-based public private partnerships (CBP3s) and sustainable communities, she has over 25 years of national award-winning program development and management experience across multiple USEPA programs protecting the nation’s air, water, and land. Prior to joining Hugo Neu, Lueckenhoff served as Senior Advisor to the EPA Region 3 Administrator where she developed and led initiatives related to innovative community-based public private partnerships, next generation technologies and alternative market-based approaches to achieving “faster, cheaper, greener” environmental improvements supporting resilient, sustainable communities. Lueckenhoff also served as a Special Assistant to the USEPA Administrator for Science Issues and later in her tenure EPA Region 3 Acting Director of the Superfund Division, as well as Acting Director of the Water Protection Division, where she also was the permanent Deputy Director directing administration and management of a variety of activities, including programmatic operations and oversight of grants totaling over $6 billion dollars. In addition to holding undergraduate and graduate degrees with honors in Microbiology, Chemistry & Biophysics as a National Science Foundation Fellow, she received her U.S. Senior Executive Service (SES) certification as a graduate of the US Treasury Executive Institute and US EPA SES Candidate Development Program.

Presentation Links

USBI Fact Sheet: Biochar in Stormwater Management 

USBI Biochar slides and presentations

Handout: Climate Smart Green-Corridor with Biochar

Article: Climate-Smart Resilient Green Corridors Optimize Distributed Green Infrastructure

Article: Treatment of Dairy Farm Runoff in Vegetated Bioretention Systems Amended with Biochar

Chesapeake STAC Report: Biochar

Scaling Up Biochar