Crescordia Environmental Excellence Awards

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Arizona Forward annually gives out its Crescordia awards, an environmental excellence award given to numerous projects throughout the state. Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward, will tell us about the award winners.

TED SIMONS: In tonight's edition of Arizona Sustainability, we check out the winners of Arizona Forward's annual Crescordia Awards which honor environmental excellence throughout the state. We welcome Arizona Forward President and CEO, Diane Brossart.


TED: Hello, good to see you again. Another year, another Crescordia. First of all, lets get it started with a question I ask every year--what is a Crescordia?

DIANE: A Crescordia Award is a first-place award in our Environmental Excellence Awards program, presented in partnership with SRP, and it means "to grow in harmony"--it's a Greek term.

TED: Oh, well there you go!

DIANE: See? You presented all of those awards on Saturday night and you didn't know?

TED: I didn't know that. So they're designed to emphasis what?

DIANE: A balance between environmental quality and economic prosperity. It's a way to grow our communities in a healthy manner--a sustainable manner--that makes people want to live here, that enhances our public health and wellness. It's all about growing in harmony with the environment.

TED: So before we get to some of the bigger winners, who votes on the awards?

DIANE: We select a panel of jurists for their expertise in each of the award categories, and they evaluate all the entries. We had nearly 100 entries from around Arizona this year. This is our second year completely statewide, so we had entries from Coconino, Pinal, Pima and Maricopa County all around Arizona. And the good news is, we're doing a good job in sustainable design here in the Grand Canyon State.

TED: It's really encouraging. The event is one of those feel-good events because you see what people are doing out there, innovation is topnotch and moving forward is the emphasis and it's getting done. It's nice to see.

DIANE: It's very inspiring. In my 25 years at the helm of Arizona Forward, this is my favorite part of the job, looking at these entries each year. You get a real sneak peek behind the scenes at what's happening and where we're setting the bar, and it's set high.

TED: Let's take a look at some of the winners. I think the the big winner was NAU's International Pavilion, correct?

DIANE: It was. it's the building of the future, and it's here today. It's in Flagstaff on the campus of NAU. It's a small building--it's less than 10,000 square feet--but it is considered to be among the greenest buildings in the world, and it's very impressive. It is on track to be Flagstaff's first net-zero commercial facility. That means it produces as much energy as it uses. So at the end of the day, it's net zero, and the judges were so impressed by this project, they gave it top honors of the evening, the President's award, and it also received the highest level of certification from the US Green Building Council--LEED platinum. It's a great building, there's lots of special features I can share with you if you like.

TED: Give me a couple.

DIANE: Okay! Well, it has a solar array, and when outside temperatures are 75 degrees or higher--and in flagstaff, the weather is great, we all know that--the sidewall and ceiling louvers and side walls actually open at the same time, creating increased air currents throughout the whole space. Hot water is distributed evenly through a special process; all of the trees on-site were reused in park benches. It's just amazing all of the interesting things… re-purposed building materials and recycled waste…

TED: Alright, NAU's International Pavilion wins the big award of the evening. Let's move on now--the Tempe Grease Cooperative.

DIANE: It's not sexy, but I'll tell you what--it's a really innovative project. It is a collaborative project between the city of Tempe and several restaurants--163 restaurants. And what they do--the impact of fats and oils and grease on water and sewage systems--you might not know this--but it's significant. It's like the cholesterol of the sewer systems. And this project is the first of its kind in the nation. It showcases an innovative partnership that manages fat, oil and grease through discounted fees for grease pumping and services and yellow grease collection.

So lots of benefits--public health being one primary. Odor reductions, better sewer infrastructure. And they have, like I said, 163 restaurants. Since they started this program 27 months ago, they've managed 3,000 tons of waste and deferred nearly $120,000 in expenses.

TED: That's a lot of restaurants and waste and expense saved. Good for them. Alright, City of Peoria Community garden--also a winner. What are we talking about here?

DIANE: So you can see the diversity of these projects. This was an environmental education project on healthy communities, and it took a lot in the city that was vacant and considered an eyesore and transformed it into a demonstration project for growing local organic produce. And it really is a project of passion. The students and residents and people throughout the neighborhood participated in growing the garden, and it's a demonstration project that is very usable.

TED: Alright, congratulations to the city of Peoria then! El Rio Design Guidelines and Planning Standards was another winner.

DIANE: And this is the only category in the competition that accepted plans as an entry. This was a partnership between the cities of Avondale, Goodyear and Buckeye, along with Maricopa County and the Flood Control District of Maricopa County. It's a multijurisdictional 17-mile stretch of the Gila river where they are enhancing flood safety, environmental sustainability and future economic growth for future generations. So it's kind of a pilot project and very, very successful.

TED: Very good. We saw a lot of maps and charts and graphs right there, but I guess it all makes sense when you get right down to it. Alright, Valley Metro Public Arts Program.

DIANE: This is one of my favorites. If you drive around the Valley, you'll see all kinds of public art, but the Valley Metro did an incredible job of installing art into transit. It's unexpected, but it's intentional and at each station along the valley metro rail, they designed art to reflect and connect with the places we live, providing symbolic links between neighborhoods and public transportation. It's really spectacular, and it enhances the 20-mile line that just added 3 new stations in Northwest Phoenix and 4 new stations in Central Mesa.

TED: You could give these guys an award every year. Every time they get an expansion up, they put public art out there. Perennial winners.

DIANE: Not only does it look good, but, you know, it makes the community so much more livable and dynamic.

TED: Alright, one more here--this is called Beyond the Mirage, and this was a TV program if I remember correctly.

DIANE: It's a video. Beyond the Mirage is a project collaborative that the University of Arizona produced, and it was awarded from the Arizona Community Foundation the Water Prize. They gave $100,000 last year to a winning project to help create awareness about water issues. Because while we've done a great job of managing water in Arizona--we are a leader in water management--there is a gap between demand and supply. And so that gap is narrowing, we're going to run into shortages on the Colorado.

So this project sets to educate consumers, students, really everybody, all Arizonans, about the importance of water, where it comes from and how we can conserve it. It features a documentary, an online web experience and K-12 education in the classroom. They exposed more than 260 videos on water issues, that you can go to this website and create your own video from the video footage they have there.

TED: So again--and we have about 30 seconds left here--not just buildings, not just plans. I mean, education, the video, the whole nine yards.

DIANE: It really is a wide spectrum of projects, all designed to enhance the environment and thereby enhance our lifestyles and health.

TED: And I guess the awards were Saturday night, meaning today you start looking around for next year's nominees, don't you?

DIANE: Yeah, do you know any? Ted, you did a fantastic job emceeing the program. We had hundreds of businesses and civic leaders, it was a great program. SRP's production folks did an incredible job and we couldn't have been happier. All of the winners are featured on our website at and we hope that people will take a look, because it sets the standard.

TED: It does. And again, as far as these events are concerned, it's a very encouraging thing to see. It's a forward-looking thing.

DIANE: It's nice to talk about what is right with Arizona.

TED: Yes, yes. And with that, we say good evening. Thank you so much for joining us.

Diane Brossart, President and CEO of Arizona Forward

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