Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards

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For the 12th consecutive year, Arizona Forward, in partnership with SRP, presented the 33rd Annual Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards. Known as the “Academy Awards” of the environmental community, the awards spotlight distinguished projects throughout the Valley that demonstrate a high level of environmental commitment and contribute to sustainability. Diane Brossart, President and CEO of Arizona Forward, will discuss the awards.

Ted Simons: Arizona forward in partnership with SRP recently presented a 33rd annual environmental excellence awards spotlighting projects that contribute and show commitment to sustainability and the environment. Diane Brossart is president and CEO of Arizona forward. Good to see you.

Dianne Brossart: Good to see you as well.

Ted Simons: It's not valley forward, it's Arizona forward. The first ceremony year that all of Arizona was represented. Talk to us about that.

Dianne Brossart: We have one category that we opened upstate wide. We had entries from northern Arizona and southern Arizona and central Phoenix area. That was for environmental Stewardship, kind of long standing commitment to the environment and programs that have a lasting impact.

Ted Simons: Environmental excellence awards. Who decides who wins, how do you decide what to even look at?

Dianne Brossart: We had over 110 entries this year, so no shortage of projects, which is good for Arizona. We have a professional panelist of jurors selected for the expertise in each of the award categories. Which range from buildings and structures to development and landscape, art, media, education, technology, livable communities. It's a wide spectrum. They spent 2 days in a dark room looking at these.

Ted Simons: And we had awards of merit and then we had Crescordias which were a little higher category. What is a Crescordia?

Dianne Brossart: It's a Greek term meaning to grow in harmony. It's how we're growing in harmony with the natural environment. It's the top award per category. One per category. The judges can elect to withhold Crescordia if they feel that there's nothing of that caliber. It's a very prestigious award to win.
Ted Simons: The awards of merit were pretty prestigious in themselves.

Dianne Brossart: Well the whole thing is just wonderful!

Ted Simons: Well let's get to some of the winners here and the big winner, this is the president's award, went to Grand Canyon trust volunteer program.

Dianne Brossart: I was especially excited about that because it is northern Arizona project and it recognizes the sustainability of Arizona's most iconic and important natural asset, the Grand Canyon. They have 3,000 individuals donating18,000 hours of volunteer time to 25 conservation-based programs throughout the year. Really amazing and they mentor the next generation of environmental stewards. They have citizen based scientists that go out and assist and look over the lands that are mostly public and Native American lands in northern Arizona. They were the big winner. They were very excited about that.

Ted Simons: They certainly were. Three-time winner was this DARTS.

Dianne Brossart:: I bet you don't know why it was called that!

Ted Simons: I still don't know why it's called that. It looks like a building.

Dianne Brossart: I just learned today! It's a cool infill project in downtown Phoenix that houses architectural firm as well as several dental offices. So Dental arts building. DARTS. It's Green council certified, lead certified at the platinum level, which is the highest. It's a great infill project. Saves energy, saves water use. It has a lot of redeeming qualities.

Ted Simons: It's a beautiful building.

Dianne Brossart: It's a really neat building.

Ted Simons: I guess you have to get a root canal, that's the best you can do.

Dianne Brossart: We just had a mixer in there. You can have cocktails too.

Ted Simons: We have Phoenix sky train . Had to win something. This is an amazing project. Multiple award winner as well.

Dianne Brossart: It is. Congratulations to the decide of Phoenix for this wonderful project which just opened in April of this year. It's lead gold certified. I understand it's the only public transportation campus in the world to receive that honor. They have 10,000 users a day. Reduces vehicular traffic around the airport by 20%. Emissions by an estimated 6,000 tons in the first year of operation.

Ted Simons: Effective and just some of the shots absolutely gorgeous.

Dianne Brossart: It has great public art too. It won in the public art category too.

Ted Simons: Indeed a public art and transportation connectivity.

Dianne Brossart: See. You're a wonderful M.C., you are really starting to get this stuff.

Ted Simons: Haha I paid attention. Phoenix neighborhoods using green standards. Sustainable community winner. What's this all about?

Dianne Brossart: I really like this project too. It's another city of Phoenix project, and it takes some of the hardest hit neighborhoods in that community that are affected by vacant and abandoned foreclosed properties and turns them into Green affordable homes near transit, amenities and community resources. It really has transformed parts of the city that otherwise would be blighted. They have solar power and energy savings and all kinds of Green building techniques built into them. So it's a great project.

Ted Simons: Some of the before and afters, just basically what you're looking at here, sustainability, moving forward both in an environmental frame of mind.

Dianne Brossart: Exactly. It's inspiring to see some of the neat things going on around the valley and state in this context. You may not otherwise ever know about it.

Ted Simons: A winner public policy an plans was a master plan for the Navajo community. Talk to us about that.

Dianne Brossart: Right. This was an amazing project. It's the only category where we accept plans and this is over 19 million acres. So it's huge. They are helping the tribe create policies and design standards for housing and land management. So each of the 110 Navajo communities now has a defined area for development.

Ted Simons: That's fantastic. Tom thumbs trailhead in the McDowell mountain preserve won for buildings and structures. Another beautiful structure.

Dianne Brossart: Beautiful. It's in Scottsdale. It's in the base of the McDowell mountains, so it's beautiful by itself but this building is especially interesting because it has no connection to water, sewage or electric services. The project required a whole new way of thinking. It has photovoltaic panels, provides 100% of its required power and it's off the grid.

Ted Simons: It certainly is. If you go out there, you're out of it so to say. All right, I love this one. This is rehabbing an old courthouse in Pinal County. Look at the before and afters. This is neat.

Dianne Brossart: This I learned is Arizona's oldest government building still in use. The 1891second Pinal County courthouse rehab. They use key environmental features. Reused and recycled bricks, flooring, doors and windows, retrofitted the original windows to insulate with low E-glass. Low water plumbing fixtures, high efficiency water heaters. Apparently the building attracts thousands of visitors each year. It's a huge economic base as well.

Ted Simons: That's fantastic. Look at that. This is the way it was. Now look how this things winds up after renovation. That's fantastic.

Dianne Brossart: Beautiful.

Ted Simons: Okay, real quickly, the Fire Side Elementary School, one for constitutional buildings. This is a nice school.

Dianne Brossart: Now I love this. It's a beautiful school. What is really cool is that not only is it creating energy savings and using environmental attributes but it's teaching kids, the next generation of environmental stewards, about these things. They have a rainwater harvesting system out front that collects water and is used to water the plants.

Ted Simons: Look at that. Those poor kids! After elementary school it's all downhill from there. But not for you. Every year it's amazing how many new projects are out there.

Dianne Brossart: It really is. It's my most favorite Arizona forward event in that it's so inspiring and showcases what we're doing right, which I think is very important. So often which we look at what's wrong and focus on the negative. That's lot of really good things happening around the state.

Ted Simons: It was a wonderful evening. Always encouraging to see all these projects and have them honored and recognized. Thank you so much for joining us.

Dianne Brossart: Thanks, Ted.

Diane Brossart:President and CEO, Arizona Forward;

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