GREEN AMERICAN CITIES
The 5 Most Eco-Friendly Places In The US
These are the five most sustainable cities in the US, as determined by the following metrics:
- Share of energy from renewables
- Green space per capita
- LEED buildings
- Share of population that uses alternative sustainable transit
- Composting mandates
- Number of vehicles per household, and electric vehicles per capita
- State beverage container deposit laws
- Battery recycling legislation and state ranking of batteries recycled per capita
In recent years, the environmental movement has gained momentum at an exponential rate. More and more people are becoming environmentally conscious, driven by their desire to protect themselves from the dangers of climate change. As a result, there are many eco-friendly places popping up all over America that offer ways for you to live green and save money in the process!
A new study from Rocket Homes, recognizes the country’s most eco-friendly cities and the initiatives they created to reduce their carbon footprint to try and reverse the effects of global warming. Take a look at the 5 most sustainable cities that are leading the effort to preserve our planet for generations to come.
Portland has almost 500 square feet of green space per person, thanks to green urban planning. The city gets around 1/2 of it electricity from renewable energy sources, thanks in part to a large share of hydroelectricity (as well as other renewables). Portland also has the highest rate of recycling, as well as biking to work, of any US city (as explained in this article).
Portland is a city with an eco-conscious spirit. One of the most popular things to do in Portland is to bike around, and there are more than 200 miles of biking trails that connect neighborhoods throughout the city. Another way this eco-friendly city encourages their citizens to conserve energy and reduce their carbon footprint, is by providing incentives for residents who install solar panels on their homes or businesses.
Starting in 2002 with a recycling program for compostables and recyclables, Portland became one of the first American cities to use waste as fertilizer by turning it into compost. Recently, they celebrated being able to recycle 100% of their residential solid waste excluding hazardous materials such as batteries and propane tanks. They have also eliminated styrofoam containers from all food service establishments within the city limits and replaced them with biodegradable cups, plates, bowls, takeout boxes, and utensils.
Like Portland, Seattle also sources around 1/2 of their energy from renewables, thanks to a large share of hydroelectricity. Seattle City Light is America's first carbon-neutral utility, supplying over 1/2 of the energy Seattle uses, with much of the electricity for the city sourced from hydroelectric dams.
Seattle was one of the first American cities to ban plastic bags in supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores. Seattle also pioneered a composting program that recycles food scraps into fertilizer to grow greener urban gardens.
Seattle is a beautiful city with many eco-friendly transportation opportunities. One of the most popular ways to explore Seattle's natural beauty is by bike! You can rent one from your hotel or use the free downtown bike share program. It has over 100 bikes available in 20 stations throughout downtown. Seattle is also home to one of the most sustainable office buildings in the world - The Bullitt Center.
St. Paul, Minnesota
St. Paul has over 700 square feet of green space per person. Minnesota has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) 80% by 2050, and St. Paul has taken their efforts a step further, planning to achieve carbon neutrality by the same time. As part of its strategy, the city has turned its attention toward large buildings, as their energy use makes up 40% of St. Paul’s emissions. Every year, St. Paul undergoes a yearly audit that measures its sustainability. The audit scores the city's progress in key areas such as air quality, energy efficiency, and waste management. To help ensure Minnesota’s capital achieves its goal, the city now requires owners of these buildings to track and report their energy and water use.
In 2006, St. Paul became the first U.S. city to be certified as an International Dark Sky Community by the International Dark Sky Association for reducing light pollution and making efforts in preserving night skies. This is important for animal like bats and owls who use them for hunting and migrating patterns.
San Diego, California
The push for 100% renewable energy is a major part of the San Diego Climate Action Plan (CAP); adopted citywide in December 2015. San Diego’s CAP is billed as a continuing push to make San Diego, “America’s cleanest city”, now also its most sustainable city. San Diego plans to eliminate half of all GHGs (reach 50% GHG reduction by 2035 compared to 2010 levels) from the city; and run entirely on renewable energy, by 2035.
Desalination represents an important potential source of clean water, and is one of several major solutions to the world water crisis. The Carlsbad desalination plant provides 10% of the clean water of San Diego County residents.
San Diego was one of the first cities to mandate solar panels on all new construction and it has strict regulations around water consumption. The City of San offers free composting services for residential customers, which means food scraps can go directly from your home into the ground to help fertilize soil rather than sitting in landfills or incinerators.
Washington DC has over 8,000 acres of parks and trails maintained by its Department of Parks and Recreation. The city one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US Additionally, the city has also been able to motivate residents to recycle more than 60% of their waste and compost nearly 25%.
DC is in the top 2% of the country for LEED-certified buildings. In the last decade, DC public schools have led the way in energy-efficient construction. As the US capital continues to reduce its GHGs, the city is now working toward creating net-zero energy schools that produce as much energy as they consume. DC has also invested in using wind and solar power to generate energy for municipal and residential buildings, which has helped push the city into the top 3% of the country for renewable energy.
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