Saturday, March 29, 2008

10 Greenest Cities in America

Here are the list of the 10 Greenest Cities in America:

The politics in Austin, Texas, home base of Whole Foods Market and Lance Armstrong (at least part of the year), have earned it the title of “the blueberry in the bowl of tomato soup.” But the city’s energy portfolio could make it known as the ray of sunshine in the field of oil pumps.

For such a small city, Berkeley, Calif., packs a potent green punch. For starters, its 100,000 residents fit in a remarkably compact space, creating one of the highest population densities in the state: An average of almost 10,000 people per square mile. Berkeley also has one of the highest rates of pedestrian and bike commuting, and special biking boulevards interlace the city. Congestion can be a problem, but a city-run online car-sharing network helps keep traffic down.


If your plane arrives at Logan Airport’s Terminal A, you’re experiencing Boston’s green building phenomenon the minute you set foot on solid ground. Completed last year, it is the first LEED-certified airport terminal in the world.


The Midwest’s biggest metropolis is fast becoming the green star by which aspiring cities sail. The place that Carl Sandburg called “hog butcher for the world” is on a mission to be the greenest city in America. Chicago is not only working to cut its own emissions but is helping the rest of the world do it, too, by being home to the first and only carbon emissions trading floor, the Chicago Climate Exchange.


The unassuming City of Lakes has been making a name for itself as a green heavyweight by steadily lightening its environmental footprint. The EarthDay Network ranked it second among the greenest midsize cities this year, and Minneapolis is training to be a soldier in the fight against climate change. R.T. Rybak was one of the first mayors to step up and sign the U.S.

*New York City

While New York is indeed enormous and rife with eco-woes such as pitiful air quality, on a per-person basis it is one of the most efficient cities in the world. With 8.2 million people (and another million expected by 2030), New York is not only the country’s largest city, it is also the most densely populated. With half of New Yorkers going carless, more than 20 percent of commuting happens on foot or by bicycle. People also rely heavily on the daily carnival that is the public transportation system, one of the most extensive in the world.


With smart city planning that has kept sprawl in check, Philadelphia can be readily navigated by public transit, by bicycle and on foot. In fact, nearly a third of residents use public transportation to get to work, and almost 7 percent walk.


Despite being gray from rain half the year, Portland, Ore., practically radiates the color green. Famed for microbreweries, roses and stellar public transit, Portland sports hundreds of miles of bikeways (and the bike culture to prove it) and suffers from only the occasional traffic snarl. Starting in the 1970s, stringent zoning laws kept Portland’s urban and residential areas focused and well planned, avoiding the sprawl that has crept outward from many other cities its size.

*San Francisco

Nobody should be too shocked to learn that San Francisco is extremely green. But far from resting on its laurel wreaths, San Francisco is consistently pushing the envelope of what a large city can do to be sustainable. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) offers thorough coverage and sees good ridership, cutting back on the need for cars. The city’s cycle culture also runs deep, and commuting by bike is a daily routine for many.

In Seattle’s City Hall, climate change is an idea that permeates decision-making and the city’s entire outlook. Mayor Greg Nickels has not only led Seattle in meeting the emissions reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol, he’s challenged every mayor in the U.S. to do the same. So far, the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement—Nickels’ initiative to advance the goals of the protocol through leadership and action by at least 141 American cities—has been signed by 453 mayors representing some 62 million citizens, roughly the population of the U.K.

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