Arizona Forward honors environmental excellence

Deemed a “building of the future,” Northern Arizona University’s International Pavilion earned the coveted President’s Award (Best of Show) in Arizona Forward’s 36th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP. Jurists praised the facility as among the greenest building of its kind in the world.

Arizona Forward celebrated the 36th anniversary of its historic program at the Arizona Grand Resort, attended by a prominent audience of influencers, including state, county and municipal dignitaries, as well as hundreds of corporate leaders. For the second consecutive year, all categories were open to submittals from anywhere throughout the Grand Canyon State; from 1980-2014, the program focused exclusively on Maricopa County.

“Previewing these projects located throughout Arizona is the most inspiring part of my job,” Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward announced to nearly 500 business and civic leaders at the Sat., Sept. 10 gala. “Every jury panel I’ve ever worked with in the 25 years I’ve been in this position is truly amazed and enlightened at the quality of work taking place in our state to create healthy, sustainable communities that balance environmental quality and economic prosperity.”

Some 100 nominations were received in Arizona’s oldest and most prestigious awards competition, demonstrating not only the priority of green design, but a shared ethic to protect natural resources and build in harmony with the environment. This year’s most popular categories were sustainable communities, historic preservation and art in public places.

Three southern Arizona projects earned first-place Crescordia awards, including Tucson Water’s Conservation and Education Program, University of Arizona’s Beyond the Mirage, and Tucson Water’s Advanced Oxidation Process Project. Northern Arizona yielded one Crescordia award for NAU’s International Pavilion, which then went on to take top honors of the evening. A total of 12 Crescordia awards were presented to projects in communities spanning Central Arizona. Crescordia is a Greek term that means, “To Grow in Harmony.”

Finalist projects spanned four major counties in Arizona including, Coconino, Pima, Pinal and Maricopa. The following cities and towns were represented: Apache Junction, Avondale, Chandler, Coolidge, Flagstaff, Glendale, Goodyear, Grand Canyon, Maricopa, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Phoenix, Safford, Scottsdale, Sedona, Surprise, Tempe and Tucson.

Arizona Forward and SRP presented 16 first-place Crescordia awards and 26 Awards of Merit. Projects were recognized in a range of streamlined categories, including: Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future, Healthy Communities, Buildings & Structures, Energy & Technology Innovation, Site Development, Art in Public Places, Environmental Education/Communication and the SRP Award for Environmental Stewardship.

Jurists selected the NAU International Pavilion as best of show because the iconic project is the university’s first net-zero facility – it produces as much energy as it consumes on-site. By achieving Platinum LEED-NC status (U.S. Green Building Council’s highest honor for its LEED program) combined with being net-zero, this building naturally responds to the imperatives of climate change.

The 10,000-square-foot facility serves as a dynamic event space for NAU and the Flagstaff community, incorporating three core values into its design: sustainability, diversity and engagement. It also brings NAU’s Climate Commitment to carbon neutrality one step closer to reality. By using natural airflow, radiant heating and an enhanced approach to daylighting, combined with a rooftop solar array, the building is tracking net-zero energy use.

“This project represents buildings of the future,” said Patricia Reiter, senior sustainability scientist at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and executive director of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, who served as lead judge for the awards competition. “It manifests the connection between responsible engagement with the environment and global citizenship while creating a destination for domestic and international students that encourages engagement across cultural barriers.”

In addition to Reiter, jurists include: David Case, senior landscape architect at Logan Simpson; Bruce Jerde, vice president of Healthways; Joanne Keene, executive vice president and chief of staff at Northern Arizona University; Hunter Moore, natural resource policy advisor for the Office of the Arizona Governor; Richard Schonfeld, manager of the landscape architecture group at Westland Resources; Lori Singleton, director of customer programs and operations support at SRP; Carl Taylor, retired, Taylor Anderson Architects and Coconino County Board of Supervisors; Beth Harmon-Vaughn, PhD, FIIDA, LEED, AP principal/managing director of Gensler; Rob Wanless, vice president, national accounts at M+W Energy – A Company of the M + W Group; and Julie Wolf, principal of Thinking Caps.

Since its inception in 1969 as Valley Forward, Arizona Forward has brought business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the sustainability of communities throughout the state. The organization operates with the belief that businesses must take a leadership role in solving the complex and sometimes controversial problems that confront growing population centers.

In addition to the Northern Arizona University International Pavilion, Crescordia winners include:

TEMPE GREASE COOPERATIVE (City of Tempe) — Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future

The impact of fats, oils and grease (FOG) on water and sewer systems acts as the cholesterol, creating blockages, constricting flows and reducing capacity of sewer infrastructure. Resulting sewer overflow can pose public health risks. The Tempe Grease Cooperative (TGC) embodies a

360-degree plan and showcases an innovative partnership between the city of Tempe and its restaurants. Working collaboratively, they are managing FOG through discounted fees for grease pumping services and yellow grease collection. After 27 months of implementation, 163 restaurants have voluntarily enrolled in the TGC, which ensures the sustainable management of nearly 3,000 tons of FOG waste. The deferred cost of compliance assurance as a result of fewer inspections is estimated to exceed $120,000 annually.

CITY OF PEORIA SPORTS COMPLEX (City of Peoria) — Buildings & Structures (Civic)

The Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres clubhouses at the City of Peoria Sports Complex stand alongside Salt River Fields as the only professional baseball facilities in the Cactus League that have earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The results are lower energy costs, more efficiency in operations and maintenance and a reduced environmental footprint. These game-changing standards have set a precedent for building stadiums in the sports industry. As the first two team spring training facilities in the nation, the 1990s architecture of the Peoria Sports Complex was aesthetically dated, and the building systems were poor models of energy efficiency. The city convinced its baseball team partners to retain portions of the building frame and outer envelope, saving an estimated $1.5 million on each clubhouse. Both teams placed a high value on prioritizing sustainable best practices and design elements over increased square footage. The clubhouses boast an impressive set of stats with combined annual water savings of 322,700 gallons, annual electricity savings of 1,126,418 kilowatt-hours, and 1,323 tons of construction waste diverted from landfills.

EISENDRATH HOUSE REHABILITATION (City of Tempe) — Buildings & Structures (Historic Preservation)

The struggle and eventual victory to save and repurpose the Eisendrath House ranks among Arizona’s greatest adaptive reuse projects in the past several years. Situated on 9.2 acres of native Sonoran Desert terrain, the two-story adobe structure retains a high degree of historic and architectural integrity, successfully conveying the contextual associations of the desert home that Robert Evans designed and built in 1930. Project features include environmental remediation; adobe wall and stucco repairs; floor and roof framing repairs; conversion of the original filled-in swimming pool to a cistern for rainwater harvesting; custom-made, handcrafted exterior light fixtures and copper flashing; water-conserving plumbing fixtures; energy-efficient light fixtures and air conditioning; and preservation of natural habitat. An innovative and collaborative approach has resulted in a facility for community outreach in sustainability, water conservation and historic preservation education.

KORNEGAY DESIGN (John Douglas Architects)— Buildings and Structures (Industrial & Public Works)

This adaptive reuse project transformed an abandoned battery manufacturing facility, void of any surrounding landscaping, into an urban oasis. The site originally underwent remediation for soil contamination. Today, it’s used as an eco-minded manufacturer of hand-cast concrete planters that pack zero detrimental effects to the environment. Rather than blend with its surrounding industrial neighbors, it stands out by setting a new standard for them to aspire to emulate. The majority of the work accomplished is done under shade or space cooled by fans. The minor areas that require air conditioning are enclosed in isolated and insulated small spaces. The overall site is now a community asset with shady, walkable sidewalks. This urban desert outpost has become a popular destination for educational events as well – many of them sponsored by the Arizona Society of Landscape Architects and AIA Arizona.

CITY OF PEORIA COMMUNITY GARDEN (City of Peoria) — Healthy Communities (Sustainable Communities)

Before Peoria’s inaugural community garden came to fruition, the vacant piece of Old Town property used to be an empty granite-covered lot touted by many as an aesthetic blemish. The concept to educate and demonstrate how to produce local, organic food and attain sustainability throughout the garden quickly took root and blossomed into a phenomenal movement. The garden’s unique identity stems from not only the diverse generational, cultural cross-section of members tending the garden beds, but also the leaders behind the vision. The city of Peoria formed viable partnerships with an enthusiastic community, including local veteran Master Gardeners, Peoria High School, Peoria Accelerated High School’s art program, Habitat for Humanity, the What’s Happening Art Movement and local businesses. The collaborative project demonstrates passionate community engagement in a healthy, positive, livable environment that advances the city’s progress in revitalizing the historic neighborhood.

56TH STREET ICONIC CORRIDOR (CK Group) — Healthy Communities (Multimodal Transportation & Connectivity)

The town of Paradise Valley and its private project partners collaborated to redevelop 56th Street into an iconic and visually significant corridor. It links pedestrians and motorists to restaurants, resorts and the residential neighborhood while offering dramatic views of two scenic landmarks – Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain. To help create a unique sense of place, the node features contoured stacked-stone seat walls, decorative laser-cut steel shade panels, views of the mountains and colorful plantings. The custom shade sanctuary with seating and plantings was constructed to enhance the pedestrian experience and encourage users to rest and relax. Landscape design included a sustainable xeriscape palette to conserve water and emphasize the natural Southwest environmental theme with colorful desert pairings and 26 saguaro cacti. The corridor is now the inspiration for the community’s “Iconic Visually Significant Corridor” guidelines for similar future streetscape projects.

EL RIO DESIGN GUIDELINES AND PLANNING STANDARDS (City of Buckeye) — Healthy Communities (Public Policy/Plans)

The vision to restore and beautify a portion of the Gila River while improving flood control through the El Rio Watercourse Master Plan has flourished over the past years through a partnership between the cities of Avondale, Goodyear and Buckeye, along with Maricopa County and the Flood Control District of Maricopa County. The plan ensures multijurisdictional guidance, awareness and appreciation of the Gila River for a 17-mile stretch. Main areas of focus include flood control, environmental restoration, water quality enhancement, multiuse facilities and education. An unprecedented collaboration of federal, state and local entities provided input into the planning process to ensure the El Rio project will mesh seamlessly with land-use plans of surrounding communities. The end result is a coordinated regional plan that will provide flood safety, environmental sustainability and economic growth for future generations.

REI DC3 AT PV303 (Merit Partners, Inc.)— Healthy Communities (Sustainable Workplaces)

REI’s new distribution center in Goodyear produces as much energy as it consumes, earning LEED Platinum recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council, a milestone for a building of its size and type. To achieve Net Zero Energy, REI added a 2.2-megawatt solar array, more than

doubling the co-op’s current solar production. This array produces enough energy to power the entire facility – equivalent to powering 390 homes. The facility will serve 60 of REI’s 145 stores, accounting for 41 percent of total retail volume, as well as customers throughout the Southwest. A non-evaporative cooling system that keeps temperatures consistent from floor to ceiling will save millions of gallons of water annually. Employee comfort was a top priority throughout the design and construction process of the distribution center. In addition to the cooling system, the facility features an on-site gym, bike storage, physical therapist and cafe to support the healthy, active lifestyles of employees. Employees can also control their own microclimate through innovative hyper-chairs, allowing employees to heat or cool their individual office chair for more comfort while using less energy.

TUCSON WATER’S ADVANCED OXIDATION PROCESS PROJECT (Tucson Water) — Energy and Technology Innovation

Tucson Water transformed a significant groundwater quality problem into a high-quality drinking water supply providing numerous social and economic benefits to the community. In 2002, it was determined that the existing treatment process at the Tucson International Airport Area Groundwater Remediation Project (TARP) water treatment plant was ineffective for 1,4- dioxane removal, a contaminant not easily eliminated with conventional technologies. With direction from Tucson’s Mayor and Council, Tucson Water commissioned the design and construction of a new Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) to address the issue. Tucson’s AOP facility is the first process of its kind in Arizona for combining ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide to target 1,4-dioxane and is first in the nation to use granular activated carbon (GAC) specifically for excess hydrogen peroxide quenching. Several innovative elements ensure consistent water quality, provide fail-safe automated operation and minimize operating costs by optimizing energy and chemical use. AOP operates in conjunction with TARP to produce up to 8 million gallons of purified water a day.

SCOTTSDALE’S MUSEUM OF THE WEST (City of Scottsdale) — Site Development (Public Sector)

Located in the heart of Scottsdale, this two-story 43,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project demonstrates landscape architecture’s exceptional capability to exceed the ordinary. It unites history with the present, the ecological with the sensory and creates a lasting place of substance and integrity. Both interior and exterior spaces are LEED Gold Standard certified, using sustainable materials and energy efficiency for green design, construction and operation. All museum roof rainwater is channeled via grated runnels to bioswales for collection, filtering and infiltration. Surface water along Marshall Way is brought on-site to be filtered and used in the landscape, rather than being sent to storm drains – a first for the city of Scottsdale in an urban setting. The plaza and streetscape design for the museum is derived from deep cultural roots in the Old West that transformed the site into one of beauty, discovery and conservation. All landscape and hardscape elements were intricately designed featuring low-water-use desert plants, including trees repurposed from pre-Western Spirit days.

DESERT ARROYO PARK (City of Mesa) — Site Development (Parks and Trails)

Desert Arroyo Park delivers a unique interpretive educational experience to the city of Mesa’s park system that is otherwise heavily landscaped with trees, shrubs and grass. Some 70 percent of the site is devoted to preserving the natural landscape, with 30 percent focused on active recreation. The stunning 58-acre site takes full advantage of the natural landscape by providing a series of learning experiences spotlighting the Sonoran Desert’s washes, flora and fauna. Developed with the input of Zaharis Elementary School students, the park contains desert-

centered nodes, walking and biking trails, Wi-Fi access and an outdoor classroom that encourages learning and exploration of bugs, birds, mammals and reptiles. With technology, education and nature intertwined, the park can be enjoyed by all ages and help build the next generation of conservationists.

VALLEY METRO PUBLIC ART PROGRAM FOR NORTHWEST AND CENTRAL MESA EXTENSIONS

(Valley Metro)— Art in Public Places

The integration of art into transit is intentional yet unexpected. Artwork at each station along Valley Metro Rail is designed to reflect and connect with the places we live, providing symbolic links between neighborhoods and public transportation. Valley Metro’s initial 20-mile line added three new stations in northwest Phoenix and four new stations in central Mesa, along with park-and-rides and traction power substations. With each new station, there was an opportunity to celebrate the neighborhoods through art. Some artists capitalized on space to create massive landmarks, while others scattered elements along the station platform with a multitude of stories and images. A unique feature of Phoenix’s Dunlap Avenue Park-and-Ride is a series of nine cones featuring laser-cut steel images based on the drawings of area students who were asked to reimagine their schools. At Mesa’s Alma School/Main Street station, the artist designed a series of metal screens whose patterns are both organic and scientific. This public art program treasure demonstrates the power of collaboration between artists and the community.

PEORIA’S DESERT DEFENDERS (City of Peoria) — Environmental Education/Communication (Public and Private Sectors)

Peoria developed a sustainability education campaign aimed at capturing the hearts and minds of Peoria’s youth by fostering environmental stewardship at a young age. In partnership with Theater Works and the Center for Performing Arts, the city created a team of three actors in college that transformed into Desert Defender superheroes. Together they address the city’s pressing sustainability-related challenges such as energy, water and waste. The costumes, storyline, superpowers and scripts are tailored to our unique desert environment. Water Woman, the group leader, guides youth toward actionable steps to reduce their water consumption. The Generator shows them how to reduce energy use. Recyclone demonstrates the power of reducing, reusing and recycling. These creative characters empower children to take action in their everyday lives, giving them an opportunity to design their own superhero capes while pledging to tackle at least one sustainability problem.

BEYOND THE MIRAGE (The University of Arizona) — Environmental Education/Communication (Educators, Students and Nonprofit Organizations)

Although Arizona has been innovating new approaches to water security for decades, a gap between demand and supply is looming. Cutbacks in deliveries from the Colorado River are projected for the near future, which will exacerbate stresses on groundwater. Beyond the Mirage seeks to help people understand the complex world of water and empower them to act as informed citizens. It targets multiple age groups with an ambitious campaign that includes a feature documentary, an online web experience and K-12 classroom instruction. Social media efforts reached more than half a million people. To engage younger community members, a unique web technology allows users to explore more than 260 video clips online. A web-based interface guides each journey, offering users choices for navigating through the content and encouraging them to arrange video clips into their own documentaries. The team partnered with five school districts in Phoenix and Tucson to adapt this technology into their academics.

Older community members engaged with a documentary presented by Arizona Public Media. By combining user-generated content with true expertise on Arizona’s water resources, Beyond the Mirage makes education on this complex topic accessible to Arizonans of all ages.

TUCSON WATER’S CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION PROGRAM (Tucson Water) — SRP Award for Environmental Stewardship

Tucson Water incentivizes water conservation through residential and commercial rebate programs, offers a free water efficiency audit program for residents, and educates students and teachers on efficient water use and conservation methods. Residential customers are rewarded for high-efficiency washers, toilets, rain harvesting and gray water installations, while commercial customers are incentivized for multifamily high-efficiency toilet replacements, urinal replacements and the WaterSmart business program. The rebate programs have invested over $6 million in conservation, conserved nearly 3,000 acre-feet of water, and replaced around 40,000 toilets and urinals. Tucson Water also contributes to multiple education programs of K- 12 students and teachers – in one year their programs reached 43,384 students and 584 teachers, invested around $350,000 in education programs, and rallied the community in multiple water education activities. Due in part to these conservation programs, the region’s water demand has decreased to 86 gallons per capita per day, the level of water use in 1985.