The Northern Arizona Forest Fund took The President’s Award, the top honor in the Environmental Excellence Awards presented by SRP, at the Westin Kierland Resort tonight. Jurists also named the Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge as winner of the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future, and two new categories – Sustainability Champion and Waste Reduction – made their debuts.

Northern Arizona national forests provide the majority of water to the Salt and Verde Rivers. This water flows from the high-elevation forests, down to the desert below and eventually into the homes of millions of metro Phoenix residents. But the health of the forests and watersheds is threatened. The Northern Arizona Forest Fund was created to address these declining forest health conditions. To date, the Northern Arizona Forest Fund has completed over 10,000 acres of projects, reducing severe fire risk by about 25 percent.

The Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge overturned a long-standing legal prohibition against potable water reuse. It also used craft beer to educate the public about the benefits of the “toilet to tap” revolution. The team took to festivals, conferences, parades and expos to get their message out, which resulted in changing a law and changing many minds statewide.

Arizona Forward celebrated the 38th anniversary of its signature awards program, drawing more than 500 social influencers and innovators representing public and private sector interests.

“I’ve attended the Environmental Excellence Awards as an Arizona Forward member for 20 years, and this year’s finalists show how far sustainability has come during that time,” said Lori Singleton, Arizona Forward president and CEO. “Every year, we see a wider range of entries that make our communities healthier, more vibrant and more resilient.”

Award categories include: the Governor’s Award for Arizona’s Future; Buildings and Structures; Healthy Communities; Energy and Technology Innovation; and Art, Environmental Education and Communication. The highest award in each category is the coveted Crescordia, a Greek term meaning, “To Grow in Harmony.” In addition, judges may also present an Award of Distinction to other entries that deserve recognition.

A total of 14 first-place Crescordia winners and 20 Awards of Distinction were presented this year. These projects set standards for achieving a balance between the built and natural environment, impacting the state’s physical, technical, social and aesthetic development. Nominations embodied a wide spectrum of public, private, educational and nonprofit interests. Finalist projects were submitted by both Maricopa and Pima Counties, as well as the cities of Chandler, Flagstaff, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Tolleson and Tucson.

“The results of this year’s competition reflect visionary efforts in both the public and private sector,” said lead judge John Flicker, who serves as president of Prescott College. Before joining Prescott College in 2014, he was president of the National Audubon Society for 15 years during which time he became a leader in the field of environmental education. “The judging panel had the diverse knowledge to evaluate how these projects will impact their communities well into the future. It was an honor for us to be part of this process.”

Joining Flicker on the panel were: Hunter Moore, natural resources policy advisor to the governor; Christiana Moss, principal at Studio Ma; Maria Salenger, senior associate at Jones Studio; Galen Drake, senior landscape architect at J2 Engineering; Linda Morales, CEO and principal of the Entitlements Division; Jason Mikkelsen, managing principal at HDR; Liz Shipley, public affairs director at Intel; Pat Dinkel, vice president, environmental and chief sustainability officer at APS; John Trujillo, principal at Circonomy Solutions; Ted Decker, director/curator/co-founder at Phoenix Institute for Contemporary Art; and Anna Maria Maldonado, director of sales and marketing at Care1st Health Plan of Arizona.

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 Forest Fund and the Arizona Pure Water Brew Challenge, Crescordia winners include:

WURTH HOUSE (Kimber Lanning) – Buildings & Structures (Civic and Historic Preservation)

Local First Arizona founder Kimber Lanning saved a bungalow that was slated for demolition and gave it new life as the Local First Arizona headquarters. The process took more than three years to complete. Today, more than 30,000 people see the restored bungalow during monthly First Friday events.

OCOTILLO RESTAURANT (TRUEFORM landscape architecture studio) – Buildings & Structures (Commercial and Institutional)

The Ocotillo Restaurant features desert-adaptive materials and water-harvesting elements that blend perfectly into the Southwest. Desert palo brea and mesquite trees provide shade, while

the restaurant’s namesake ocotillo plants are featured at key locations. A sunken lawn provides a versatile gathering place and harvests water.

NORTHERN ARIZONA POLLINATOR HABITAT INITIATIVE (Green NAU) – Site Development and Landscape (Landscape and Preserves)

The Northern Arizona Pollinator Habitat Initiative promotes the creation, protection and registration of pollinator habitat across Northern Arizona, while highlighting the important role pollinators fulfill in the global food supply. The effort increased local pollinator garden registration tenfold in its first year.

SPACES OF OPPORTUNITY (Orcutt Winslow) – Healthy Communities (Sustainable Communities)

Spaces of Opportunity addresses community connections, food deserts and social justice on an inspiring scale and allows residents to learn about science, technology, engineering and agriculture. The incubator farm encompasses 3,000 square feet; kale, mustard greens and beets have sprouted this year.

MESA RIO SALADO – STADIUM CONNECTOR PATHWAY (City of Mesa – Engineering Department) – Healthy Communities (Multimodal Transportation and Connectivity)

The Mesa Rio Salado-Stadium Connector Pathway filled a critical 3.5-mile gap in the Valley’s network of shared-use paths along the Salt River, Crosscut Canal, and adjacent neighborhoods. Community partners include the Chicago Cubs, Oakland A’s, Riverview Development, SRP, Arizona Department of Transportation, Flood Control District of Maricopa County, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, City of Mesa, and the City of Tempe.

SOUTH MOUNTAIN PARK AND PRESERVE TRAILS MASTER PLAN (SMPTMP) (City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department) – Healthy Communities (Public Policy/Plans)

The South Mountain Park and Preserve Plan will help this nationally recognized desert mountain preserve address the challenges of increasing popularity so future generations can connect with the desert. The plan identifies 51 miles of existing designated trails to be protected or improved and adopts 38 miles of existing non-designated trails into the designated trail system.


U-Haul designated a portion of customer contributions in 2017-2018 to the National Forest Foundation to support its Prescott Aspen Restoration Project in the Prescott National Forest. One-hundred-fifty acres across two aspen stands were restored, which also protects a watershed that’s critical to the area. 

PEORIA POLICE PATROL SERVICES BUILDING (Energy Systems Design, Inc.) – Energy and Technology Innovation

The City of Peoria’s new Patrol Services Building provides an immediate return on investment through ongoing water and energy reduction while providing a comfortable work environment for Peoria’s officers and staff. The building’s energy costs will be 41 percent less than a typical building, and it is tracking LEED Gold certification.

GLENDALE DESERT FOOD FOREST (City of Glendale Water Services Department) – Environmental Education & Communication

Part regenerative landscape and part outdoor classroom, the Glendale Desert Food Forest connects residents to the Sonoran Desert’s array of water-wise edible plants. It includes more than 100 edible plants and involves partners such as the Glendale Public Library, Linking Edible Arizona Forests Network, Maricopa County Master Gardener program, and Trees Matter.

GREG STANTON (Greg Stanton Supporters) – Sustainability Champion (Individuals)

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton worked tirelessly to establish Phoenix as an oasis of pragmatic, economically beneficial environmentalism. He asked Phoenix voters to approve a tax increase to benefit mass transit while running for his own re-election, while also converting 100,000 Phoenix streetlights to efficient LED bulbs. Stanton was also instrumental in developing public-private circular economy partnership through ASU to raise landfill diversion to 30 percent.

WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN (Waste Management of Arizona) – Waste Reduction

The Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) showcases Waste Management’s environmental best practices and innovation in sustainable sport programs. Since launching the Zero Waste Challenge in 2012, the event has transformed into a Zero Waste Event that tracks greenhouse gas emissions and minimizes the tournament’s carbon footprint, uses renewable energy, saves and restores water, stores materials and signage for reuse, educates attendees through messaging and on-course activations, and ensures that discarded items go to their next best use.


Northern Arizona Forest Fund (National Forest Foundation)