Tag Archives: Arizona Forward


Environmental Excellence Awards honor state’s best

The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar earned the coveted President’s Award (Best of Show) in Arizona Forward’s 35th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards, held in partnership with SRP. The project is the first Made in America streetcar in nearly 60 years.

Arizona Forward celebrated its 35th milestone anniversary of this historic program, in addition to the competition’s statewide expansion. For the first time ever, all categories were open to submittals from anywhere throughout the Grand Canyon State.

“We’re breaking new ground by broadening the scope of our largest, most prominent event, which has become known as the Academy Awards of the environmental community,” Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward announced to nearly 600 business and civic leaders at the Sat., Sept. 12 gala. “It’s inspiring to see all the good work contributing to the environmental sustainability and economic vitality of Arizona cities and towns.” 

More than 120 entries were received in Arizona’s oldest and most prestigious awards competition focusing exclusively on sustainability. Submittals from 30 communities within the Grand Canyon State were represented, 18 of which were outside of Maricopa

County. The ceremony was held at an exclusive new venue, Chateau Luxe, and attended by a prominent audience of influencers representing state, county and municipal organizations, as well as the corporate sector. 

Arizona Forward and SRP presented 17 first-place Crescordia awards and 31 Awards of Merit. Projects were recognized in a range of streamlined categories, including two brand new ones – the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future and Healthy Communities. Other categories include: Buildings & Structures, Energy & Technology Innovation, Site Development, Art in Public Places, Environmental Education/Communication and the SRP Award for Environmental Stewardship. 

Jurists selected the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar for top honors because the iconic project is vital to improving the look and feel of downtown Tucson while providing a much-needed boost to the community’s infrastructure. The $196 million endeavor is the largest and most complex construction project the city of Tucson has ever undertaken. The project also earned a first-place Crescordia in the Healthy Communities Multimodal Transportation & Connectivity category. Crescordia is a Greek term meaning, “to grow in harmony,” and the President’s Award is selected from among all Crescordia recipients.

Running through the city’s largest activity centers, the Sun Link Streetcar connects more than 100,000 people who live and work in the vicinity. It provides affordable, clean and comfortable travel, connecting five of Tucson’s most unique districts along a 4-mile line with 23 stops along the way.

The construction of the streetcar generated more than 500 jobs and triggered six new housing projects along the corridor. Boasting about 4,000 riders per day, this innovative project is fostering and connecting a healthy, vibrant community in southern Arizona.

Five southern Arizona projects earned first-place Crescordia awards, including the notable Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales. Northern Arizona yielded three Crescordia awards: the Museum of Northern Arizona Easton Collection, The Arizona National Scenic Trail, and Northern Arizona University’s multi-panel solar thermal hot air system. Central Arizona earned nine Crescordia awards. 

Steve Seleznow, president & CEO of the Arizona Community Foundation, served as lead judge for the competition. Other jurists include: William Auberle, senior consulting engineer of Pinyon Environmental Inc.; Klindt Breckenridge, president of Breckenridge Group Architects/

Planners; Robert Breunig, president emeritus for the Museum of Northern Arizona; Joseph Loverich, senior project manager for JE Fuller Hydrology and Geomorphology; Christopher McIsaac, policy advisor for energy and environment for the Office of the Arizona Governor; Suzanne Pfister, president & CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives; Lori Singleton, director emerging customer programs – solar, sustainability and telecom at SRP; Stephanie Rowe, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Reece Angell Rowe Architects; Richard Underwood, owner & president at AAA Landscape; and Cree Zischke, director of philanthropy at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

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 Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, Crescordia winners include:

TEAM ARIZONA COLORADO RIVER SHORTAGE AND DROUGHT PREPAREDNESS (City of Phoenix/Central Arizona Water Conservation District/ADWR Partnership) — Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future

In response to dwindling supplies, Arizonans are forming strategic alliances and innovative water management strategies toward ensuring an adequate, safe and sustainable supply. Water providers and planners have stored nearly 3.4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water underground; partnered to store Central Arizona Project water in Tucson aquifers; aligned with irrigation districts in central Arizona and other partners to conserve and store water in Lake Mead; provided $5 million to help fund the pilot Colorado River System Conservation Program; and established the Northern Arizona Forest Fund to protect the state’s watersheds. These collaborative efforts have significantly increased the resiliency of Arizona’s water supplies.

TUCSON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT PIONEERING 11 MW SOLAR PROJECT (Natural Power and Energy)—Governor’s Award for Energy & Technology Innovation, Southern Arizona

At more than 11 megawatts, Tucson Unified School District’s groundbreaking solar generation project encompasses 42 schools and is the largest distributed school solar project in the nation without utility incentives. It represents TUSD’s commitment to renewable energy, reducing its carbon footprint, saving money and serving as a model of environmental stewardship to students and other school districts. The project will ultimately supply about 80 percent of the electricity needed at each site, save an estimated $170,000 in energy costs in its first year and more than $11 million over the 20-year term. Systems are now operational at 15 schools. 

MARIPOSA LAND PORT OF ENTRY (Jones Studio) — Buildings & Structures (Civic)

One of the busiest land ports in the U.S., the Mariposa Land Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, processes more than 2.8 million northbound vehicles each year. Built in the 1970s, the port demanded modernization and expansion due to growth in international trade and traffic volume. Completed in August 2014, the LEED Gold certified 55-acre site contains 270,000 gross square feet of buildings, inspection facilities and kennels for both southbound and northbound traffic. The central spine of the port is the oasis, a desert garden that runs the length of the main buildings.

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA OLD MAIN RESTORATION (The University of Arizona) — Buildings & Structures (Historic Preservation)

Opening in 1891, Old Main was the first building on the University of Arizona campus. The approach to preserving this historical structure included bringing the exterior appearance and features back to their original grandeur while placing the functionality of a 21st-century university into a 19th-century shell. Old Main is the oldest LEED certified building in Arizona and a model for sustainable historical preservation. The existing building envelope was largely unaltered, yet new mechanical systems reduced energy use by 24 percent. Deteriorated masonry was restored instead of replaced. Subterranean water infiltration was addressed through concealed drainage systems that preserved the existing habitat comprising the Old Main “teardrop” site.

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN ARIZONA EASTON COLLECTION CENTER (Kinney Construction Services Inc.)— Buildings and Structures (Commercial & Institutional)

The Easton Collection Center is a 17,282-square-foot LEED Platinum certified facility. It provides an optimal environment for long-term storage of priceless museum collections and sets a high standard for environmental sustainability while reflecting the character of the region and its cultures. Features include a 14,000-square-foot living roof, a 22,000-gallon rain/snow water harvesting cistern, drought-tolerant native plants and bioswales to utilize surface runoff. The facility was designed around existing ponderosa pines, none of which were removed. Following recommendations from an American Indian Advisory Committee, the building has a number of symbolic and functional elements designed to make the Native community feel at home in the structure.


Reclamation Department) — Buildings and Structures (Industrial & Public Works)

The Regional Optimization Master Plan is among the largest construction projects in southern Arizona. It significantly upgraded and modernized the metropolitan portion of the Pima County Regional Wastewater System, resulting in water clarity and quality improvements; reduction of nutrient pollution; declining effluent flow extent due to higher infiltration rates; and aquatic wildlife quantity and diversity showing signs of improvement. The entire program was completed in 2014 at a cost of $605 million. Design and construction followed two intensive years of planning and coordination with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, national engineering firms and local stakeholders.


Environmental Design) — Healthy Communities (Sustainable Communities)

The Downtown Tolleson Redevelopment Project was a 1-mile urban revitalization effort that set out to create a true sense of place for the city of Tolleson. It reflects the city’s history, culture and spirit while integrating sustainable design principles. The pedestrian-friendly destination environment serves as an economic driver for the community and provides a foundation for fostering private investment. Wide pedestrian sidewalk zones encourage restaurants to utilize on-street dining. Many of the themed custom-designed elements, including the award-winning art sculpture program, dynamic paving system, signage and custom tiled seat walls, reflect the cultural story of Tolleson and its proud heritage.

LOW IMPACT DEVELOPMENT TOOLKIT (City of Mesa) — Healthy Communities (Public Policy/Plans)

Like most communities spanning Arizona, the cities of Mesa and Glendale historically considered stormwater to be a nuisance that needed to be quickly eliminated through an expensive pipe and channel system. By developing and advancing Low Impact Development, these communities are shifting the stormwater paradigm and recognizing stormwater as a resource that can be used to promote healthy urban communities. LID is a stormwater management method that engages native materials and simple tools to reduce runoff and pollution. The toolkit provides a user-friendly menu of LID methods, best practices, technical requirements and construction details that help communities restore washes and enhance streetscapes or parks while cooling down cities at night.

HONEYWELL ARIZONA AEROSPACE – BEING THE DIFFERENCE! (Honeywell)— Healthy Communities (Sustainable Workplaces)

Employees at seven Honeywell Aerospace sites in Arizona are empowered and encouraged to carry out improvement ideas targeted at reducing the corporation’s environmental footprint.

Since 2007, projects have matured from implementing “Turn It Off” campaigns and installing occupancy sensors on lighting to larger and more impactful efforts, such as completing a Building Envelope Solutions initiative. The focus has also expanded to include water conservation and waste diversion. Since the program’s inception, 595 energy projects targeting energy and water conservation have been executed, resulting in energy savings of 202 billion British thermal units and water savings of 24.8 million gallons. In addition, more than 3.6 million pounds of waste has been diverted from local landfills in the last 18 months alone.

SOLAR THERMAL HOT AIR TECHNOLOGY (Northern Arizona University) — Energy and Technology Innovation

Northern Arizona University this year installed the first known multi-panel solar thermal hot air system in the country, demonstrating a long-standing commitment to decreasing its fossil fuel consumption. While renewable energy alternatives like solar and wind can reduce net electricity use, options for directly reducing fossil-based heating are more limited. Yet heat and hot water comprise nearly half the country’s energy demand so the opportunity for cost-effective solar thermal technology is massive. Technology utilized by NAU and developed by

Phoenix-based SolarThermiX is expected to pay for itself in a fraction of the time of campus solar and wind ventures. It holds promise for more than 650 major educational institutions that have signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment pledging to reduce long-term carbon emissions.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE AVENUE (SmithGroupJJR) — Site Development (Public Sector)

Conceived through a unique public-private partnership between ASU and the City of Tempe, the project transforms the existing multiuse transportation corridor into vital public realm space with a focus on walkability that encourages infill development and adaptive reuse of vacant land and buildings. Incorporating strategies from the National Complete Street Coalition, the project eliminates unused vehicular pavement by narrowing travel lanes to create dedicated bike lanes and shaded pedestrian walkways. A flexible urban plaza serves as a venue for events of all sizes. A unified, integral concrete paving design for the street, sidewalks and plaza spaces creates an extension of indoor and outdoor areas associated with nearby retail, including ASU’s College Avenue Commons. The use of bollards, lighting and street trees delineate traffic, creating separation for bicyclists and users while allowing for flexibility in event staging. The “new” people-focused College Avenue has transformed this district into a vital active space, providing a gateway to the city of Tempe and ASU that will serve generations to come.

VALLEY PARTNERSHIP COMMUNITY PROJECT (Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped) — Site Development (Private Sector)

Valley Partnership’s innovative annual Community Service Project this year benefited not only the Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped, a disability service provider, but also the community at large. This collaborative effort involved more than 92 different companies from throughout the Valley joining together to design/build a work site project using donated resources. Grounds of the facility, used daily by people with disabilities, were transformed into a therapeutic garden featuring desert plants and accessible space that serves the entire neighborhood. Landscaping enhances the area’s environmental quality and conserves natural resources, with catchment areas to harvest water for native plant irrigation. Raised gardens allow people with disabilities to grow herbs and vegetables for meals prepared daily. Adapted gaming areas and eco-friendly park furnishings promote health and well-being.

THE ARIZONA TRAIL ASSOCIATION’S GIFT TO ARIZONA (Arizona Trail Association)— Site Development (Parks and Trails)

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is one of the most innovative and unique approaches to fostering long term environmental sustainability throughout the state. This extraordinary project spotlights Arizona’s amazing biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, encouraging stewardship of our natural assets. The vison was conceived 30 years ago by Dale Shewalter, a Flagstaff sixth-grade teacher who sought a way to instill a spirit of conservation in Arizonans through experiential environmental education. It became the mission of the Arizona Trail Association, a nonprofit organization founded in 1994. Thousands of people were inspired by the concept and toiled tirelessly to establish an 800-mile sustainable pathway from Mexico to Utah. Today, the Arizona Trail links deserts, mountains, canyons, forests, communities and people in a pathway that is protected in perpetuity by an act of Congress.

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIRPORT TERMINAL 3, SKY TRAIN STATION PLATFORM AND BRIDGE (City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture) — Art in Public Places

Arizona artist Janelle Stanley merged her experience as a Diné (Navajo) weaver with contemporary design to create the terrazzo floors at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Sky Train Bridge and Platform at Terminal 3. She relied on Diné weaving and basketry patterns to design the flowing shapes and intricate details in the floors’ winding paths of color, pattern and surprising textures. On the transfer bridge, the turquoise blue and black overlays represent the twisting and spinning that strengthens and elongates wool into yarn. The design of the station platform was inspired by details from Haak’u (Acoma) pottery and a piece of treasured family jewelry. Both designs convey the artist’s interest in expanding her cultural heritage to create vibrant new public spaces. The floors were fabricated by Corradini Corporation, using about 100,000 pounds of crushed aggregate, 20,000 linear feet of divider strip and 9,000 custom waterjet-cut pieces. This spectacular project will enhance the traveling experience for visitors and residents alike for years to come.

CITY OF PEORIA SUSTAINABLE U (City of Peoria) — Environmental Education/Communication

(Public and Private Sectors)

The City of Peoria’s Sustainable U program is open to all Arizona residents to educate, demonstrate and empower citizens to make responsible choices and lifestyle changes to reduce their environmental impact. By 2030, it is estimated that almost 5 billion of the world’s population will live in cities. The City of Peoria has a long history of educating its residents about water conservation, stormwater pollution and waste management. Recognizing the importance of education in changing behaviors, the city of Peoria created this new initiative to empower people to make a difference. Sustainable U offers a diverse list of workshops that utilize in-house experts, community partners and the Valley Permaculture Alliance. These engaging, interactive and fun workshops focus on topics such as: desert landscaping, edible landscapes, energy efficiency, composting, recycling, renewable energy, culinary classes, rainwater harvesting, and composting.


School of Architecture) — Environmental Education/Communication (Educators, Students and Nonprofit Organizations)

The University of Arizona School of Architecture has long held a reputation for teaching that fosters a respect and reverence for the environment. As topics of climate change and sustainability become increasingly urgent, UA felt it was necessary to develop ways to improve its curriculum to address the needs of the future. In surveying what peer universities were doing, UA discovered that single classes or lectures were becoming commonplace. Upon further research and discussion, its Sustainability Pedagogy Task Force proposed using the entire five-year Design Studio sequence, which is the backbone of the curriculum, as the armature for investigating and teaching the principals of sustainable design. Over the course of the five-year sequence, each area of focus is highlighted at least once, so it becomes evident to students how the entirety of the sustainability issue might be seen holistically.


Sustainability is core to all facets of operations at Arizona State University’s Facilities Management Grounds Services/Arboretum/Recycling departments on the Tempe campus.

The grounds team began analyzing operations about 10 years ago, making some easy changes such as leaving grass clippings on the turf and eliminating unneeded desk phones. Then they started sending all green landscape waste to Singh Farms to be converted to compost. The finished product was returned to campus for use in an organic fertilizer program, along with coffee grounds collected from university cafes. ASU’s recycling program now encompasses all

campuses and includes commingled blue bins, organics, a student “Ditch the Dumpster” initiative, construction debris recycling and special collection streams, all around a zero waste goal. This highly sustainable university also installed some of the Valley’s first solar-operated landfill and recycling compactors.




Name of Entry: Team Arizona Colorado River Shortage and Drought Preparedness

Submitted by: City of Phoenix/CAWCD/ADWR Partnership


Name of Entry: Central Arizona Conservation Alliance

Submitted by: Desert Botanical Garden


Name of Entry: NAU Solar Thermal Air Heating

Submitted by: Northern Arizona University




Name of Entry: Mariposa Land Port of Entry

Submitted by: Jones Studio



Submitted by: LEA Architects, LLC


Name of Entry: City of Maricopa City Hall

Submitted by: Gensler 


Historic Preservation


Name of Entry: The University of Arizona Old Main Restoration

Submitted by: Sundt Construction, Inc.


Name of Entry: The Newton

Submitted by: John Douglas Architects


Name of Entry: Silver King Marketplace / Padilla Park

Submitted by: EPG


Commercial & Institutional


Name of Entry: Museum of Northern Arizona Easton Collection Center

Submitted by: Kinney Construction Services, Inc. (KCS)


Name of Entry: Arizona State University Downtown – Sun Devil Fitness Complex

Submitted by: Gabor Lorant Architects, Inc.


Name of Entry: The VILLAGE at Prescott College

Submitted by: WEDDLE GILMORE black rock studio


Industrial & Public Works


Name of Entry: Regional Optimization Master Plan

Submitted by: Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department


Name of Entry: Clarkdale’s Broadway Water Reclamation Facility

Submitted by: Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona


Name of Entry: Cornell │ Cookson Industrial Door Manufacturing and Offices

Submitted by: Jones Studio


Sustainable Communities


Name of Entry: Downtown Tolleson Redevelopment Project: Paseo de Luces

Submitted by: J2 Engineering and Environmental Design


Name of Entry: Stepping Stone Place

Submitted by: Chasse Building Team


Name of Entry: Mountain Park Health Center

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Multimodal Transportation & Connectivity


Name of Entry: Sun Link Tucson Streetcar

Submitted by: Engineering and Environmental Consultants


Name of Entry: Hardy and University Drives Streetscape Projects

Submitted by: City of Tempe


Name of Entry: GRID Bike Share

Submitted by: City of Phoenix


Public Policy/Plans


Name of Entry: Low-Impact Development Toolkit

Submitted by: City of Mesa, AZ


Name of Entry: ReinventPHX

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Planning and Development Department


Name of Entry: Northern Arizona Forest Fund

Submitted by: National Forest Foundation


Sustainable Workplaces


Name of Entry: Honeywell Arizona Aerospace – Being the Difference!

Submitted by: Honeywell


Name of Entry: Risk Recycling

Submitted by: Maricopa County, Risk Management Department


Name of Entry: Workplace Wellness Nurtures Work Well Done

Submitted by: U-Haul International



Name of Entry: Solar Thermal Hot Air Technology

Submitted by: Northern Arizona University


Name of Entry: IO Modular Deployment

Submitted by: IO


Name of Entry: InfinitPipe®

Submitted by: QuakeWrap, Inc.


Public Sector


Name of Entry: Arizona State University, College Avenue

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Name of Entry: Phoenix Tennis Center

Submitted by: Hoskin Ryan Consultants, Inc.


Name of Entry: GateWay Community College Integrated Education Building

Submitted by: SmithGroupJJR


Private Sector


Name of Entry: Valley Partnership Community Project

Submitted by: Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped


Name of Entry: Airport I-10

Submitted by: Wespac Construction Inc.


Parks and Trails


Name of Entry: The Arizona Trail Association’s Gift to Arizona

Submitted by: Arizona Trail Association


Name of Entry: Echo Canyon Recreation Area Trailhead Improvements

Submitted by: EPG


Name of Entry: Riverview Park

Submitted by: City of Mesa



Name of Entry: Phoenix Sky Harbor Terminal Three Sky Train Station Platform and Bridge

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Shade for Transit Series

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Pinnacle Peak Water Reservoir Public Art Project

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Public and Private Sectors


Name of Entry: City of Peoria Sustainable U

Submitted by: City of Peoria 


Name of Entry: 7th Avenue @ Melrose Curve Recycling Awareness

Submitted by: City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture


Name of Entry: Avondale – I Heart Environment

Submitted by: City of Avondale


Educators, Students, and Nonprofit Organizations


Name of Entry: Bachelor of Architecture Sustainability Pedagogy

Submitted by: University of Arizona School of Architecture


Name of Entry: Mrs. Green’s World

Submitted by: Mrs. Green’s World


Name of Entry: Water RAPIDS (Research and Planning Innovations in Dryland Systems) Program

Submitted by: Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona



Name of Entry: Arizona State University Facilities Management Grounds/Recycling

Submitted by: Arizona State University


Name of Entry: Sun Link Tucson Streetcar

Submitted by: Engineering and Environmental Consultants

Accepting Valley Partnership's Crescordia Award were, from left, Robyn Ratcliff, center  director for AFH; and 2014 Valley Partnership Community Project committee members Heather Markham, Dena Jones, Kaylynn Primerano, Peter Madrid and Katie Reiner.

Valley Partnership Community Project earns Crescordia

Valley Partnership’s 2014 Community Project won a prestigious Crescordia Award Saturday evening at the 35th annual Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards.

Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped (AFH), last year’s community project recipient, was honored in the Site Development Private Sector category at the Arizona Forward event at Chateau Luxe in Phoenix.

“We are so thrilled that Valley Partnership won the Crescordia Award,” said Robyn Ratcliff, center director at AFH. “We have watched this amazing project come to life through the collaboration of many talented people who donated so much. This award is the perfect way to celebrate all that Valley Partnership does to support the community.”

Work at AFH included a built-in grill, seating for outside dining, the re-purposing of a sports court, exterior musical instruments, and a sensory garden. Valley Partnership’s member companies and their employees collaborated to add amenities and upgrade the exterior AFH’s clients, friends and families.

“The annual community project is at the heart of Valley Partnership’s legacy along with advocacy and networking for our members,” said Cheryl Lombard, President the CEO of Valley Partnership. “This award recognizes the commitment to community by having hundreds of our members give their time and money to a charitable cause around the Valley every year. I thank Arizona Forward for recognizing our work, and I especially thank Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped for letting us contribute to the meaningful impact it has on our community.”

Valley Partnership was represented at the awards show by committee members Dena Jones of Fidelity National Title and Heather Markham of Markham Contracting, the 2014 co-chairs;

AFH is a human services organization whose primary mission is to provide quality, individualized services to those with physical or intellectual challenges in the least restrictive environment. It offers programs for adults with physical or intellectual challenges such as Downs syndrome, autism or severe epilepsy.

Arizona Forward is an advocate for a balance between economic development and environmental quality. The non-profit and brings together business, community and civic leaders for thoughtful public dialogue on critical sustainability issues. Considered the “Academy Awards” of the Arizona environmental community, the event is the state’s oldest and most prominent competition of its kind.

AFH 1: Finishing touches to the 2014 Valley Partnership Community Project at Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped included the addition of tactile sculptures that were donated and constructed by Trademark Visual.

Valley Partnership 2014 Community Project earns recognition

Valley Partnership has announced its 2014 Community Project has been selected as a finalist for Arizona Forward’s 35th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards. Last year’s project recipient was Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped (AFH). The project is a finalist in the Site Development (Private Sector) category.

AFH is a human services organization whose primary mission is to provide quality, individualized services to those with physical or intellectual challenges in the least restrictive environment. It offers programs for adults with physical or intellectual challenges such as Down syndrome, autism of severe epilepsy.

AFH 2“We nominated the Valley Partnership Community Project for the Arizona Forward award because of the impact that their work has on the community,” said Robyn Ratcliff, center director at AFH. “Collaboration is the key to making long-term change, and Valley Partnership embraces that concept beautifully. The detail that was embraced for not only the people whom we serve, but also the neighborhood, made this project a perfect candidate for this award.”

The scope of work from last year’s Community Project included constructing a built-in grill, seating for outside dining, the re-purposing of a sports court, exterior musical instruments, and a sensory garden. The event was held Nov. 15, 2014. Valley Partnership’s member companies and their employees collaborated to add amenities and upgrade the exterior for the use of AFH’s clients, friends and families. After the initial community project day, finishing touches were made by professional contractors, such as sculptures fabricated and donated by Trademark Visual that were erected at AFH.

AFH 3“Our primary objective for the 2014 Community Project was to enhance the quality of life for the clients AFH serves by adding a serenity garden that incorporated therapeutic elements into four experiences – education, music, recreation and culinary arts,” said Dena Jones of Fidelity National Title, co-chair in 2014. “More than 200 volunteers from 130-plus companies traded in their traditional business attire for work clothes and garden gloves. The committee enlisted support from more than 55 corporate sponsors and together, brought the vision to life.”

Arizona Forward is an advocate for a balance between economic development and environmental quality. The non-profit and brings together business, community and civic leaders for thoughtful public dialogue on critical sustainability issues. This is the organization’s 35th year hosting the Environmental Excellence Awards and the 14th year they have partnered with SRP on the event.

Considered the “Academy Awards” of the Arizona environmental community, the event is the state’s oldest and most prominent competition of its kind. It spotlights distinguished projects throughout the state of Arizona that demonstrate a high level of environmental commitment and contribute to the state’s overall sustainability. The program has grown significantly over the years and now encompasses eight broad categories, including:

  • Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future
  • Buildings and Structures
  • Healthy Communities
  • Site Development
  • Art in Public Places
  • Energy and Technology Innovation
  • Environmental Education/Communication
  • SRP Award for Environmental Stewardship

The 35th Annual Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards gala is scheduled on Saturday, Sept. 12. The event will be held at the Chateau Luxe located at 1175 E. Lone Cactus Drive in Phoenix.

energy policies

Nominations open for Environmental Excellence Awards

Arizona Forward is currently accepting nominations for its 35th annual Environmental Excellence Awards program, the state’s oldest and largest competition of its kind. The event – known as the Academy Awards of the local environmental community – is presented in partnership with SRP and recognizes significant contributions to the sustainability of the Grand Canyon State.

This signature program now embraces projects throughout Arizona, with all categories dedicated to its expanded geographic focus.  In taking a fresh approach to the historical program, Arizona Forward is unveiling two new award categories, including the Governor’s Award For Arizona’s Future, as well as a Healthy Communities category. All categories are now open to entries throughout Arizona for the first time ever!

The association is requiring submissions be submitted electronically via its FTP site or by mail on a CD-ROM or flash drive. Nominations will be accepted through 4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30, in the following broad-based categories:

·         Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future – NEW CATEGORY
·         Buildings and Structures
·         Healthy Communities – NEW CATEGORY
·         Energy and Technology Innovation
·         Site Development
·         Art in Public Places
·         Environmental Education/Communication
·         SRP Award for Environmental Stewardship

First-place winners in each of the 17 subcategories will receive the Crescordia award, named for the Greek term meaning “To grow in harmony.” Arizona Forward will also confer its most prestigious honor, the President’s Award, on an individual or organization that has had an exceptional impact on environmental quality.

Recipients will be announced at the awards gala on Saturday, September 12, 2015, at a brand new venue – the Chateau Luxe. More than 600 business and civic leaders typically attend.

Environmental Excellence Awards are highly sought by companies both large and small, government agencies, cities and towns, design professionals, educators, media representatives, artists, technicians and others.

Finalists will be notified prior to the gala; however, specific awards will not be announced until that evening. All winners will be asked to prepare a presentation board featuring their project, which will be displayed at the awards banquet and included in a year-long, museum-quality traveling exhibit.

Finalists will also be spotlighted in a special section featured in the Phoenix Business Journal and first-place Crescordia winners will be featured in a one-year museum-quality traveling exhibit to high profile locations throughout Arizona.


Diane Brossart -Describes Her First Step In The Industry, 2008

Arizona Forward, Univ. of Phoenix offer teachers scholarships

Diane Brossart, Valley Forward, BIG Green Conference 2011 Speaker

Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward.

In an effort to strengthen and expand environmental education opportunities for Arizona teachers, Arizona Forward has joined with University of Phoenix to offer three full-tuition scholarships to deserving Arizona K-12 teachers. The scholarship program will grant three teachers from across the state the opportunity to complete either an undergraduate or master’s degree program at University of Phoenix.

The scholarship program provides educational opportunities to local educators who have demonstrated sustainable practices in their classrooms and want to continue to make a difference in their communities.

“Educating and mentoring the youth of today — leaders of tomorrow — on becoming stewards of our unique desert environment and conserving natural resources is critically important,” said Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Arizona Forward. “It’s through the support of University of Phoenix that we are able to present educational opportunities of this magnitude.”

The scholarship program was announced in conjunction with Arizona Forward’s tenth annual EarthFest Educators Night on Oct. 28 at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Nearly 400 Arizona teachers attended EarthFest to enjoy nearly 50 exhibits, activities and environmental education resources to aid them in mentoring the next generation of environmental stewards.

“Arizona Forward and University of Phoenix share a commitment to teacher education and sustainability,” said Dan Litteral, incoming chair of the board for Arizona Forward, and vice president and deputy general counsel for Apollo Education Group, parent company of University of Phoenix. “University of Phoenix College of Education has been educating teachers for more than 30 years, and is proud to once again partner with Arizona Forward to empower teachers with environmental education to bring to the next generation of students.”

University of Phoenix is dedicated to addressing education and workforce needs in the communities it serves. The University’s College of Education provides associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for individuals who want to become teachers or current educators and administrators seeking advanced degrees. For more information about University of Phoenix® College of Education degree programs, visit www.phoenix.edu/education.

Educators across Arizona are encouraged to apply for the University of Phoenix Arizona Forward Scholarship by December 9, 2014, and recipients will be selected by January 19, 2015. Arizona teachers can visit www.phoenix.edu/azforwardscholar for the scholarship application.

Teachers who want to bring environmental and sustainable education opportunities into the classroom can find additional resources in the Arizona Forward’s online Environmental Education Directory. It features a comprehensive list of field trip opportunities, curriculum, classroom speakers and related materials.

Bill Allison - Headshot

G&K Shareholder leads Hance Park Conservancy

The law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy announced that shareholder William F. Allison has been elected as executive vice president of Hance Park Conservancy.

Hance Park Conservancy is an organization of stakeholders, cultural institutions, businesses and individuals working in collaboration with the City of Phoenix to produce and implement a redevelopment plan for Margaret T. Hance Park, located in Central Phoenix. The mission of the Hance Park Conservancy is to promote the creative use of public space and its vibrant arts and cultural experience.

In addition to his role with the Hance Park Conservancy, Mr. Allison also works with Arizona Forward where he serves as chair of the Central Regional Council and is a member of the Executive Committee and the board of directors. He is also secretary/treasurer of the Phoenix Public Library Foundation and vice president of the Actors Theatre of Phoenix. He received the Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent Rating and the “Leading Individual” ranking from Chambers USA®.

Mr. Allison is a shareholder practicing in the areas of land use and zoning, government affairs and lobbying and administrative law. He earned his Master of Urban Planning and his J.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his B.A., magna cum laude, from Macalester College, where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society.


Sky Train Project Recognized with Environmental Award

The PHX Sky Train™ has been selected for a top honor in the prestigious Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards, receiving the first-place Crescordia award in the Multi-modal Transportation & Connectivity category. In addition, a public art project featured on one of the PHX Sky Train™ pedestrian bridges received special recognition.

Arizona Forward, in partnership with SRP, presented the 33rd Annual Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards on Saturday September 14. Considered the “Academy Awards” of the environmental community, the event is the oldest competition of its kind in Arizona. This year, there were more than 100 entries.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s PHX Sky Train™ provides a connection between Valley Metro light rail, East Economy Parking and Terminal 4, which serves 80 percent of the Airport’s passengers. The project was recognized for providing a vital transit link to the Phoenix area, alleviating roadway congestion and enhancing customer service. The PHX Sky Train™ project reduces vehicular traffic and emissions, energy consumption and water use. It attained LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council.

“The PHX Sky Train™ is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we work to improve our transportation system in a way that improves the air we breathe and reduces the water we use,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Phoenix will continue to reduce our energy consumption through green construction and energy efficient facilities.”

The stunning glass mural project incorporated into the walls of the walkways between Terminal 4 and the PHX Sky Train station™ was also recognized. Artist Daniel Mayer, glass fabricator Franz Mayer, glass installers Walters and Wolf and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture were honored with an Award of Merit in the Art in Public Places category.

“We are humbled by this recognition,” said Phoenix Aviation Director, Danny Murphy. “We owe the success of this project to our employees city-wide and to our business partners who put in countless hours of work to ensure a world-class experience for our customers on the PHX Sky Train.™”

Mr. Murphy thanked the Phoenix Aviation Department’s many partners in the project, including: Bombardier Transportation, Gannett Fleming, HOK, Fore Dimensions, Hensel Phelps, Kimley Horn & Associates, MEP Engineer, Dinter Engineering and Advance Terrazzo.

Diane Brossart - Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Diane Brossart – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Diane BrossartPresident and CEO, Arizona Forward

Brossart joined the nonprofit civic group — which aims to move Arizona forward environmentally, economically and socially — as a member 30 years ago. She was appointed to her leadership role in 1991, when Valley Forward focused exclusively on Maricopa County. Rebranded as Arizona Forward is 2012, its expanded statewide sustainability agenda includes: land use, transportation, air quality, energy, water and environmental education.

Surprising fact: “I believe my mother who passed away nearly 10 years ago lives as a rabbit in my backyard.”

Biggest challenge: “Taking Valley Forward statewide after 43 years as the Valley’s voice for balance. I’m bringing the best and brightest talent around Arizona together to help make the Grand Canyon State the greatest place in America to live.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

federal transportation bill

Arizona Forward hopes to guide Arizona’s transportation systems

As Valley Forward transitions to Arizona Forward to encompass a statewide focus, it’s only fitting that the association with a 43-year history of success tackling environmental issues — including land use, water management, air quality and energy — turns its attention to an issue that impacts every resident and every business in Arizona.

“Valley Forward has always valued transportation as one of the organization’s key areas of interest,” says John Godec, president of Godec, Randall & Associates Inc., which helps governments and businesses solve public and stakeholder challenges. “The Phoenix and Tucson metros have seen radical transportation changes and improvements in the past decade, so we’re asking, ‘What’s next? Are we good to go now?’”

Just as it did last year with parks and open spaces, Valley Forward hopes to answer those questions as it unveils its stance on transportation, covering topics such as transportation planning, how it impacts the quality of life in the Sun Corridor and how transportation affects Arizona’s economy.

One issue that Valley Forward wanted to address in its Transportation Primer is one on the minds of every Arizona: traffic congestion and how to better connect cities with each other. According to a policy report written by Byron Schlomach for The Goldwater Institute, the average Phoenix commuter spends an average of 38 hours a year in traffic, while a commuter in Tucson spends roughly 42 hours in traffic.

In an attempt to remedy traffic congestion in Phoenix, voters adopted Proposition 400 in November of 2004, which allowed for the renovating and extending of current freeways and the addition of more public transportation, such as the Valley Metro Light Rail, all of which connect small communities with larger cities. In Tucson, Pima County voters approved the $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Plan, which saw the construction of a modern streetcar project throughout the city, giving more people a chance to get around, while getting cars off the highways.

However, the question that has been asked by Valley Forward is, is it enough, especially since Arizona only seems to be growing in size?

“At least half the transportation systems that the state will need in 2050 have yet to be built,” says Sally Stewart, deputy communications director at the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and Valley Forward member. “Despite the recent economic downturn, Arizona’s growth is not over. It is not a question of whether the Sun Corridor — one of the emerging megapolitan regions in the country — will be a reality; it is simply a matter of when.”

According to a study published in March 2010 by ADOT, it is expected that Arizona’s population will more than double, from 6.4 million to about 16 million people in the next 30 years. Maricopa County’s population is expected to increase by 90 percent, from 4 million people to about 7.6 million. The study suggests that because of this population explosion, travel times for various destinations in the Sun Corridor could increase by about 100 percent by 2050. This could mean that a trip between Phoenix and Tucson, which currently is about a 95-minute drive, could take up to 5.5 hours in 2050 (assuming that the Interstate-10 freeway is widened to about 10 lanes).

Valley Forward experts say that Arizona must plan ahead to improve this possible transportation dilemma, especially if the state wants to see more business activity and economic improvement.

“Transportation is key for economic development,” says said Eric Anderson, transportation director at the Maricopa Association of Governments. “The ability of a company’s workforce to commute on a predictable basis is critical. The movement of freight in and out of the region is also important. Companies looking to locate in the region always look at the adequacy of the transportation system in providing mobility and travel options.”

According to the American Public Transportation Association, every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates 36,000 jobs. Despite the fact that policies, such as Proposition 400, have created and funded transportation projects, Valley Forward says that there is still not enough money allocated for Arizona’s travel needs.

“Arizona’s future economic development will be tied closely to the state’s willingness to commit funding and resources to improving and expanding its statewide transportation system,” says Craig Hughes, CEO and founder of Total Transit, the parent company of Discount Cab in Phoenix and Tucson. “Without a firm commitment to building and maintaining an efficient, integrated transportation network, the future could be one of congested freeways, inadequate rural highways, gridlocked city streets and under-funded and under-utilized mass transit.”

Valley Forward hopes that its stance and data findings will help create a dialogue not only among Phoenix and Tucson residents, but also policymakers.

“Arizona’s business community is a vital participant in guiding policymakers regarding the infrastructure challenges facing the state,” Stewart says. “If Arizonans want to enjoy a better quality of life based on a vibrant economy, then the business community must work closely with policymakers to make the difficult, but necessary decisions regarding transportation infrastructure.”

Adds Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Valley Forward, “We want to bring together the public and private sectors. Valley Forward’s goal is to try and drive the conversation to the middle and take the politics out. We want to drive up solutions so that Arizona, as a whole, can advance and can sustain itself.”

Brossart Diane final 9314 5-29-12

Valley Forward Exands its horizon

Timing is everything, even when it comes to Mother Nature.

“In 2010, we got an $85,000 grant to look at some federal issues on sustainability,” says Diane Brossart, president and CEO of Valley Forward, which brings business and civic leaders together to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities. “We were asked to target Arizona’s Congressional delegation and get them up to speed in regards to understanding a sustainability agenda for Arizona and what that meant.”

What grew from that seed was an initiative that had actually been germinating for more than a decade, Brossart says: taking the successful Marocopa County-centric Valley Forward and giving is a statewide focus. In August, Valley Forward’s board voted unanimously to to move forward with a business plan that will transition Valley Forward into Arizona Forward in January.

Brossart says the state is facing some serious issues related to the environment and the livability and vitality of Arizona’s cities and towns will be impacted by upcoming decisions related to:
* Land use planning and open space,
* A balanced multi-modal transportation system,
* Improving and maintaining healthy air quality,
* Solar and renewable energy technology,
*  Managing our water resources, and
* Protecting wilderness, parks, national monuments and other natural areas for Arizona’s tourism economy.

“As Arizona and the country recover from the Great Recession, a statewide dialogue is more important than ever,” says William F. Allison, a shareholder at Gallagher & Kennedy. “The issues impacting us – water, energy, transportation, land use – involve the entire state rather than only the Valley. Arizona Forward will provide a forum to think outside the box and beyond the Valley.”

To get Arizona Forward to have its greatest statewide impact, Brossart and her staff connected with nine companies that had influence on communities along the Sun Corridor — the stretch of freeway that connects Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott and Flagstaff — to become charter members of Arizona Forward.

“The leaders of those companies have become our tour guides as we go into Pima County and Northern Arizona,” Brossart says. She points to Kurt Wadlington, employee-owner of Sundt Construction in Tucson, for opening doors for Arizona Forward to spread its wings into Southern Arizona.

“Southern Arizona already has a very strong environmental focus, but struggles with areas that are dependent on statewide engagement from both a funding and advocacy perspective,” Wadlington says. “(Valley Forward’s) shift (to a statewide focus) will provide Southern Arizona with added resources to coordinate its future growth in the larger context of the Sun Corridor.”

Experts agree that now is the perfect time for Valley Forward to shift to a statewide focus statewide because Arizona is at a turning point, economically and environmentally.

“There are major issues that affect the state like transportation; managing resources; and protecting the wilderness, parks, and national monuments,” says Alfie Gallegos, area sales manager for Republic Services. “These are not just environmental issues, but are issues that have an effect on Arizona’s economy statewide. I think Arizona is ready to start having more positive statewide conversations about finding ways to grow our economy in a manner that can be sustained and is environmentally friendly.”

Brossart says that while Arizona has had countless groups that have focused on making their communities better, Arizona Forward will be looking to help educate legislators become the glue that brings those regional organizations together in a spirit of cooperation and unity.

“So much of our goal is to drive a political agenda to the middle and bring folks on both sides of the aisle together,” Brossart says. “The issues that we focus on are sustainability and environmental. Everybody needs clean air, clean water, open space and parks. Those are the things that make a community viable, healthy and liveable. We all want that. Those aren’t political issues. But they do fall into a political arena that sometimes clouds the issues. But if we can be a reasoning voice of balance like we have been successfully in Maricopa County, if we can bring that statewide, it will be really good for Arizona — economically and environmentally.”

Valley Forward members expect the transition to Arizona Forward to foster additional collaboration and conversation on statewide issues, bring additional viewpoints on key issues and allow for a more global conversation.

“My hope is that we can, over time, have a collective vision that regardless of our own regional filters, we’re all in this together and need to find ways to move forward as one sustainable, economically successful state,” says Iain Hamp, community affairs representative, Wells Fargo Team Member Philanthropy Group.

Brossart says one of the biggest messages Arizona Forward will be trying to communicate is that making sound decisions about issues surrounding sustainability and the environment are good for business.

“If we make a case that shows the economic impact of parks and open space on the tourism industry, the business community will take notice and they are uniquely poised to deliver of that message and be heard,” Brossart says. “Parks groupies are great and they are important. But when the business community gets involved, people listen.”

Where Arizona Forward could have its biggest economic impact is on growth industries that rely on the state’s amazing natural resources.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of solar energy, as the clean, renewable energy source is experiencing massive growth and helping the state and country achieve greater energy independence,” says Patricia Browne, director of marketing and communications for SOLON Corporation in Tucson. “And Arizona has been at the center of this growth. This has been made possible not only by the companies developing the solutions, but by the state and local officials, Arizona-based businesses and individual residents who recognize the importance that solar plays in a number of ways such as a cleaner environment, economic development, and energy price stability. However, there are still challenges in making the adoption viable on a large scale, and Arizona Forward helps bring together the right players to help make this happen on a state level.”

Richard Mayol, communications and government relations director for Grand Canyon Trust in Flagstaff, says Arizona Forward will give members in northern Arizona the opportunity to not only have a voice in discussions that affect the state today, but in decisions that impact what Arizona will be like 20 years from now.

“We hope it will help create an economy that provides the opportunity for prosperity without sacrificing the environment,” he says, “and makes northern Arizona an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

And that is what Arizona Forward’s mission is all about: bringing business and civic leaders together in order to convene thoughtful public dialogue on statewide issues and to improve the environment and sustainability of Arizona.

“All areas of the state will benefit, from urban to rural and suburban areas in between due to a coordinated and planned strategy for such essential elements as affordable energy, water, transportation, affordable housing, and a wide band of employment opportunities,” says Janice Cervelli, dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona. “All geographic, economic, and environmental sectors of the state will increasingly become part of a larger, interdependent, connected system.”


* Establish cooperative relationships with like-minded Arizona conservation organizations and facilitate collaboration on sustainability initiatives.
* Bring business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the environment and sustainability of Arizona.
* Increase awareness of and interest in environmental issues initially in the Sun Corridor and then beyond, statewide, building on an agenda of land use and open space planning, transportation, air quality, water, and energy.
* Support efforts to promote the Sun Corridor as an economic development area incorporating sustainability and smart growth principles.
* Serve as a technical resource on environmental issues through Arizona Forward’s and Valley Forward’s diverse membership of large corporations, small businesses, municipal governments, state agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.

Arizona Community Foundation
First Solar
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
National Bank of Arizona
SOLON Corporation
Sundt Construction
The Nature Conservancy
Total Transit
Wells Fargo

FOUNDING MEMBERS: Access Geographic, LLC; Adolfson & Peterson Construction Company; APS; Arizona Conservation Partnership; Arizona Department of Transportation; Arizona Heritage Alliance; Arizona Investment Council; Arizona State Parks Foundation; Arizona State University, Global Institute of Sustainability; Aubudon Arizona; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona; Breckenridge Group Architects/Planners; Caliber Group; City of Tucson; Environmental Fund of Arizona; Fennemore Craig; Gabor Lorant Architects; Gammage & Burnham; Godec Randall & Associates; Grand Canyon Trust; Guided Therapy Systems; Haley & Aldrich; Intellectual Energy, LLC; John Douglas Architects; Jones Studio; Kinney Construction Services, Inc.; Lewis and Roca LLP; Logan Halperin Landscape Architecture; Pima County; RSP Architects; Southwest Gas Corporation; SRP; University of Phoenix; TEP / UNS Energy Corp.; The Greenleaf Group

solar panels, renewable energy

As Renewable Energy Makes Process, Energy Policy To Be Explored

An unlikely group of bedfellows gathered for a private meeting last month to discuss the future of energy policy in Arizona. While they didn’t solve any issues, there is a measure of success in simply convening dialogue among this small but powerful group of diverse stakeholders representing the governor’s office, state legislature, Arizona Corporation Commission, utilities, private industry and the nonprofit sector. Objective, civil discourse on sometimes contentious topics can be productive.

The renewable energy sector has made inroads in Arizona, including the following notable accomplishments:

  • In 2001, Arizona established one of the first Renewable Portfolio Standards in the U.S. and today are targeting 15 percent by 2025, with the highest solar carve out in the nation.
  • The National Renewable Energy Lab ranks Arizona the best state for solar capacity.
  • Greater Phoenix is home to both pioneering research institutions as well as the world’s largest solar generation projects.
  • Arizona offers renewable companies refundable corporate income tax credits and reduced real and personal property taxes. Arizona passed landmark legislation opening the door for renewable energy companies to expand here — not just solar, but also wind, biofuel, geothermal and other technologies.
  • Our major utilities are servicing more than 30,000 Arizona customers with rooftop solar.
  • In addition, utilities have installed more than 316 MWs of energy through large-scale solar projects and 225 MW of wind energy in the state.
  • We have relatively low electricity rates compared to many other states in the country.
  • And, our energy efficiency standard is also very aggressive.

However, energy policy in Arizona has gone virtually unchanged since we became a state 100 years ago, so it is inevitably time to evaluate and explore what’s next and best for our state’s energy future. As a non-partisan, third-party interest, Arizona Forward is committed to helping ascertain how major stakeholders can work together on critical statewide issues and is dedicated to continuing this productive dialogue among energy sector leaders.

valley forward receives grant

Valley Forward Receives $80K Grant

A coalition to foster a statewide sustainability agenda for Arizona has been propelled by a major grant, two new high-level prominent Charter members, its first public sector recruit and two more utilities joining the diverse business-based group.

Valley Forward Association recently received an $80,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust with the opportunity to renew funding for an additional two years to grow its Arizona Forward initiative, launched last year to promote a healthy environment while encouraging economic vitality. As part of its annual grant program, the Trust awarded more than $1.8 million to 22 Arizona nonprofit organizations.

The University of Arizona and Cox Communications are the newest Charter members, joining nine other high-level entities represented on the Arizona Forward Advisory Board. Other new recruits include Pima County, Unisource Energy Corporation and Southwest Gas Corp., bringing the total roster to 41.

“This generous financial support from the Trust will allow us to continue our education, outreach and advocacy aimed at enhancing the livability and sustainability of communities throughout Arizona,” said Diane Brossart, acting director for Arizona Forward. “Our ultimate goal is to encourage more coordinated regional efforts through an exchange of ideas and information statewide that bolster our overall economic growth and environmental quality.”

Arizona Forward is leveraging the resources of the 43-year-old Valley Forward to bring business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on statewide sustainability issues. The group’s basic agenda focuses on land use and open space planning, protecting public lands, parks and monuments, as well as transportation, air quality, water and energy.

“We have experienced impressive growth of public and private sector members in a relatively short time, coupled with an initial grant from a private foundation in 2011 and the one we just received from the Trust,” said Kurt Wadlington, Tucson building group leader for Sundt Construction and chairman of Arizona Forward. “It demonstrates the need for what we are providing and encourages corporate stewardship.


Since the Trust began its grant making in 1998, it has awarded more than $99.2 million to 422 Arizona nonprofit organizations. The Trust also makes grants in Indiana and as of March 31, 2012, had assets of approximately $350 million. Visit ninapulliamtrust.org for more information about the Trust and its programs.


Arizona Forward is an initiative that brings business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue and advocacy on statewide sustainability issues. Charter Members include: Arizona Community Foundation, Cox Communications, First Solar, Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold, National Bank of Arizona, Solon Corporation, Sundt Construction, The Nature Conservancy, Total Transit, University of Arizona and Wells Fargo.

For more information on Valley Forward and the Arizona Forward initiative, visit arizonaforward.org or call (602) 240-2408.

Democratic Process And AZ Parks

Democratic Process, Both Frustrating And Rewarding

Talk about good news/bad news and all in a single day – that’s the democratic process in action for better or worse!

As an advocate for Arizona State Parks, I was disappointed that Gov. Brewer vetoed House Bill 2362 introduced by Rep. Karen Fann. Her bill would have protected earned income by state parks, such as entrance fees and other user charges, from further legislative budget sweeps.

I’m a registered lobbyist for Arizona Forward, a statewide business-based environmental coalition, but don’t often spend the day at our state capitol.  Mostly I advocate through education and outreach. But earlier this year, I participated in State Parks Advocacy Day at the capitol and co-hosted a press conference on the lawn with the Arizona State Parks Foundation. One of many parks stakeholders, I visited legislators in their office to communicate support for HB 2362. My own legislator, Rep. John Cavanaugh, told me he would not support the measure because the revenues would not be appropriated.

That’s why when the bill soared through the House and the Senate with bipartisan support and only a few opposing it, we were especially elated and felt like we made a difference. But then… our governor vetoed the bill.  That was definitely disheartening.

At the same, however, I learned the governor also vetoed HB 2757, which would have allowed for electronic billboards, a measure that violated the state’s ban on intermittent light, ruining the dark skies that have made Arizona a prime site for astronomical research.  That was good veto for the environment.

There’s democracy for you – it’s no doubt sometimes frustrating. After spending weeks getting park advocates, business owners and involved citizens to meet with their senators and representatives, it was erased with a single veto signature.  Admittedly, this bill definitely wasn’t the answer to state parks funding problems but it was a small step in the right direction.

On a positive note, many conservationists are already working on potential long-term solutions to fund parks and open space throughout Arizona. Plus, Rep. Fann is working on resurrecting her bill with a narrower focus to get passed in this session. Even though the governor has indicated she will support this revised version and agrees that parks create value in our community, anything can happen. Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed.

Or better yet, speak out and voice your support for parks. If you would like to lend your voice to advocating for Arizona’s natural assets – the beautiful parks and open space that draws so many to the Grand Canyon State – please visit arizonaforward.org.

Renewable Energy

Arizona’s Renewable Energy Industry Generates $2B, Thousands Of Jobs

The renewable energy sector is a $2 billion industry with an estimated 16,800 jobs created in 2011, according to a new study conducted by Elliot D. Pollack & Company. The report was commissioned by Pinal Partnership with support from Arizona Forward and was released at the Renewable Energy Economic Summit & Conference hosted by both organizations last week. More than 200 industry professionals attended this sold-out conference held in Casa Grande.

Renewable energy is still a small part of the overall economy in Arizona, which totals 1.7 million jobs in the Phoenix area alone. However, to put this in perspective consider the copper industry — one of the state’s original five Cs  — which generates only 9,000 jobs with 70 percent of the country’s copper produced in Arizona. Another positive is that recent job growth in the renewable energy industry has helped replace lost construction jobs.

Public policy, energy efficiency, untapped renewables and the future role of solar in Arizona’s economy were among the other topics addressed by four different panel sessions featuring industry experts. They noted that while Arizona has some of the best clean energy resources in the nation, we are still behind other states in harnessing new energy development.

Regulatory uncertainties, global competition, rapid changes in technology, along with financing, siting and transmission issues are all challenges the industry faces. Panelists suggested that we must work together to maintain a reasonable level of support for solar and renewable energy technologies both through incentives and policy.

In order to continue to grow the renewable energy sector, the Pollack report recommends Arizona become more involved in the manufacturing of components and products to export to places like California where much of the installation activity is happening. Arizona has less regulatory intrusion and a much lower manufacturing cost base than its West Coast neighbors.

What’s promising is that with leadership at the federal, state and local levels, we can expand the renewable energy sector and create new jobs while enhancing our environmental quality. Public and private sectors must work together to identify and foster long-term policy solutions. The Grand Canyon state is uniquely poised to be a leader in clean energy, which will benefit the economy, communities and environment.

For more information about renewable energy, Elliot D. Pollack & Company or Arizona Forward, visit edpco.com or valleyforward.org.

Valley Forward

Valley Forward: Reflecting On Two Decades Of Service

I never really thought when I took the job that I’d see my 20th year anniversary as president of Valley Forward. That’s not to say I expected to leave my post sooner. For the past two decades, it’s been pretty automatic – I got out of bed every morning and found my way to the office without much thought about doing anything differently.

And for that I have no regrets. Serving this 42-year-old environmental public interest organization is an honor and a privilege but even more, a passion that has enriched my life in many ways. For that I thank all of the Valley Forward members  – the lifeblood of our impressive and diverse association, as well as our friends in the community who have supported our efforts over more than four decades.

This has been a year of significant change and transition as we’ve taken our mission statewide through a new initiative, Arizona Forward. I’ve become a regular on the I-10 corridor to Tucson and north to Prescott and Flagstaff via 1-17. The prospect of commuter rail  in the Sun Corridor one day brings great promise for enhancing our connectivity and bridging economic development opportunities.

We’ve come a long way during my tenure, which spans almost half of Valley Forward’s existence. From creating and presenting the state’s first official Earth Day celebration to co-hosting Arizona’s largest volunteer clean up along the Salt River, we have engaged countless individuals in our environmental programs.

Our advocacy of desert preservation and open space, multi-modal transportation options, water conservation and renewable energy alternatives has helped to shape public policy in our region that impacts both our livability and sustainability. We’ve graded Valley cities on how they respond to growth issues and made them stronger in the process. Our publications on smart growth strategies have helped educate public and private sectors.

That’s a lot! It’s also what drives my enthusiasm for Valley Forward – it’s ever changing, never static, always moving and anything but boring. I encourage everyone to get involved in something – find a way to give back to the community you’ve made your home. It will reward you in many ways.

I thank those who picked Valley Forward for their involvement. We couldn’t have made such strides without significant support from the community at large. 2012 brings with it ample opportunities to continue our collective journey to balance Arizona’s environmental quality and economic growth towards a more vibrant future.

For more information about Valley Forward, visit valleyforward.org.

Arizona Forward - AB Magazine November/December 2011

Arizona Forward Hopes To Preserve Parks, Open Land

As one of the earliest pioneers of sustainability in the Valley, Valley Forward has had an Arizona presence for 42 years. The organization’s focus on land use and open space, air quality, water, energy and transportation has grown immensely since its inception. It is no surprise that this progressive group has once again embarked on the next sustainable step with the creation of Arizona Forward — a public interest coalition aimed at bringing together business, community and civic leaders to convene public dialogue and advocacy on sustainability in the state.

“By promoting cooperative efforts between Arizona cities and towns, the state’s livability, sustainability and economic vitality will be enhanced for both current and future generations,” says Kurt Wadlington, employee-owner at Sundt Construction, Tucson Building Group Leader and Arizona Forward advisory board chair.

Arizona Forward is initially expected to focus on the Sun Corridor, the region encompassing Tucson to Phoenix, hoping to encourage collaborative efforts between members and strike a balance between economic growth and environmental quality.

“We believe there is a strong connection between the health of our environment and the health of our economy,” says Pat Graham, state director of the Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “Arizona Forward provides an opportunity for like-minded businesses and organizations from across the state to come together and come up with solutions.”

First on the agenda for the coalition is spreading the message about the importance of parks and open spaces and their economic impact on the state.

According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, nearly 5.5 million Arizonans participate in outdoor recreation. This leads to approximately $350 million in annual state tax revenue and supports 82,000 jobs in Arizona.  Arizona Forward leaders say the economic impact of parks and open spaces is just one reason why the business community should take notice and take a stand.

“One of the challenges today is the complexity of the problems we face,” Graham says. “It requires working together in new ways and with new partners to find solutions that improve the health of both the economy and our environment to maintain a good quality of life in Arizona.”

A study compiled by WestGroup Research on behalf of Valley Forward found that 93 percent of Arizonans categorize parks and open space as “essential” to Arizona’s tourism industry. The study also found that 23 percent of Arizonans visit parks or recreation areas at least once a week.

Just how much open space are we talking about? State and federal entities, along with Native American tribes in Arizona manage more than 70 million acres of land (excluding county and municipal parks). Not surprisingly, negative effects on our parks and open space have a big impact on the state’s bottom line.

“Economic development and new jobs rely on lifestyle considerations,” Wadlington says. “Parks, forests, refuges and other open spaces support the quality-of-life factors that can make a difference for communities seeking to attract employers and a strong workforce. Access to open space boosts property values and provides healthy outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and tourists alike. If we don’t prioritize our parks and open space, we will lose our most treasured resources.”

Prioritizing these aspects has a major economic impact on Arizona. A 2009 National Parks Second Century Commission projected that every $1 in taxpayer money spent on national parks returned a $4 economic benefit through tourism and private sector spending. A June 2011 press release from the Department of the Interiors’ Economic Contributions Report further emphasized this information, with data showing that Arizona’s public lands supported 21,364 jobs and contributed nearly $2 billion to Arizona’s economy.

It is figures like these that Arizona Forward hopes will get the public and policy makers involved with protecting parks and open spaces. State legislators must stop encroaching on the parks-system budget and instead focus on securing funding for their protection, Valley forward leaders say.

“A depressed economy has impacted parks negatively at every jurisdictional level,” Wadlington says. He noted that an already-weakened parks system could be further depleted if lawmakers don’t get the message from their voters about protecting these open spaces.

“As the economy recovers and state revenues return, legislators will be faced with many choices on how to best allocate these funds,” Wadlington says. “As a community, we have to step forward collectively and make a strong case for the parks system and open space preservation.”

Like the mission Valley Forward embarked on 42 years ago, Arizona Forward hopes to serve as the catalyst for change during these trying times.  A diverse membership group with a common goal of environmental stewardship hopes to protect the state’s important parks and open spaces and other environmental issues facing Arizona.

“Future Arizona vision: A place where people want to live and work, where growth occurs responsibly and does not diminish quality-of-life,”  Wadlington says. “A place where business thrives, creating public revenue that can be reinvested in perpetuating sustainability of our state’s natural resources and quality-of-life amenities.”

For more information about Valley Forward and Arizona Forward, visit www.valleyforward.org.

Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011


Arizona Forward, State Park Issues

Arizona Forward Enhances Awareness of Arizona’s Park Issues

Arizona Forward Enhances Awareness of Arizona’s Park Issues

Arizonans value their parks and open space, consistently ranking them as key quality of life indicators. A recent survey conducted of residents statewide shows that 87 percent visit a park or recreation area at least once a year, with 23 percent doing so on a weekly basis. In addition, parks and open spaces create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.

Multiple land ownerships and funding mechanisms have produced parks and open space issues that are complex, confusing and sometimes controversial. In fact, the telephone survey conducted by WestGroup Research further revealed that most residents (80 percent) rate their knowledge of how state and local parks are funded as very low or in the middle range. Meanwhile, a depressed economy and recession has impacted parks negatively at every jurisdictional level from federal and state to county and municipal governments.

Recognizing the need for public education on the subject of parks and open space issues, Arizona Forward, a new statewide environmental/business coalition launched by Valley Forward earlier this year, developed a comprehensive report to provide unbiased facts, background information and answers to frequently asked questions about state and federal lands as well as county and municipal parks.

Designed to enhance awareness of and interest in solving Arizona’s parks issues, the primer is among Arizona Forward’s first projects towards its mission to promote cooperative efforts to improve the livability, sustainability and economic vitality of cities and towns across Arizona. Readers can sort out how much open space is available in the state, who is responsible for it and the challenges facing various jurisdictions of government. The user-friendly reference guide is described as ‘parks and open space 101’ and can be downloaded at arizonaforward.org.

While the primer doesn’t take a formal position on how to solve funding issues relating to parks, it communicates the economic impact of recreational and open space amenities and why Arizonans should care about these natural resources.

Charter members of Arizona Forward include: Arizona Community Foundation, First Solar, Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold, National Bank of Arizona, Solon Corporation, Sundt Construction, The Nature Conservancy, Total Transit and Wells Fargo.

For more information about Arizona Forward, visit arizonaforward.org.