Valley Forward’s focus today is on sustainability. Its mantra is that a community can be great only if it respects its natural and human resources, and adopts practices that will nourish and preserve them.
Thirty years ago, when Valley Forward directors launched the Environmental Excellence Awards (EEA) program, we didn’t talk about sustainability. The word wasn’t in our vocabulary. But our motives inevitably led us to the same place.
We believed that a great city required environmental stewardship and first-rate planning, design and architecture in private developments and public places. So, we set out to raise the competitive bar in those fields by recognizing superior work with prestigious awards.
In 1981, the first year of the awards, six, first-place Crescordias were granted, including Scottsdale’s visionary Indian Bend Wash flood-control project and the historic preservation of Heritage Square in Downtown Phoenix. This year, 21 Crescordias were handed out, led by the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center.
Through the years of EEA, Valley Forward has given out 414 Crescordias and, beginning in 1989, 21 President’s Awards. Additionally, many entries have received Awards of Merit in recognition of their special accomplishments.
The program has drawn thousands of entries submitted by every kind of institution and individuals from every walk of life. EEA recognition has rewarded the efforts of architects, urban designers, land planners and developers; landscape architects, homebuilders, homeowners, educators, artists, scientists, engineers, farmers and many others.
Awards have been made to city, county and state entities; manufacturers, retail corporations, hospitals, school districts, libraries, flood control agencies, art and history organizations, office and retail projects, hotels and resorts, golf courses, utility companies, recyclers, fire stations, zoos, a football team, newspapers and magazines, parks, conservation projects and museums.
As varied as they are, the hundreds of EEA winners have one thing in common: all have made an impact on the community. That is what EEA is all about and it is what will make sustainable development a reality.