There are a number of cities in the US that are making big strides in sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Here are ten of the most sustainable cities that are leading the rest of the nation in being an example of green practices, including trash disposal, recycling, energy conservation, and green energy.
1. Portland, OR
- These days, Portland is synonymous with green and eco-friendly practices, with more than 50% of the city's energy coming from sources that are renewable.
- Portland also has the Clean Energy Works program, which gives homeowners $2000 in loans and rebates for energy retrofitting, as well as free assessments of the sustainability of their homes.
2. San Francisco, CA
- Currently, 80% of San Francisco's waste is being routed into recycling and composting. This means San Francisco is the national leader in disposing of their waste in a sustainable way.
- The Bay Area is home to 700 LEED-certified projects, with thousands of more being developed.
3. Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids, MI is a national leader in sustainability in many respects, including in LEED-certified building projects and recycling.
- As of 2009, Grand Rapids could claim more LEED-certified building projects than any other city in the US.
- The US Chamber of Commerce awarded Grand Rapids for being the most sustainable mid-sized city in the country in 2010.
4. Chicago, IL
Chicago has had it's eye on getting rid of dirty energy sources in the city, as well as improving its public transportation systems.
- Two coal-fueled power plants have been shutdown, and their sites have since been redeveloped.
- The Chicago Infrastructure Trust is a fund designed to raise funds for improving public transportation without the need for tax money.
5. Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia has implemented a variety of plans designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, as well as conserve energy.
- The Greenworks plan seeks to lower energy consumption throughout Philadelphia, including a 30% reduction in energy use by the city's government, and a 70% diversion of solid waste from the city's landfills.
- Philadelphia runs on more than 8,000 LED lights, and has retrofitted 7,000 homes for cleaner energy consumption.
6. New York City
NYC probably doesn't jump into one's mind as one of America's greenest cities, but here are a couple facts that just might have you thinking differently about the Big Apple.
- The NYC subway system is famous, and it's also the reason NYC has one of the lowest pollutant emissions per capita in the country, as relatively few people drive in the city.
- NYC also enjoys a high degree of walkability, further helping to keep the amount of cars down.
- OneNYC is a program designed to further reduce greenhouse emissions by more than 30%, as well as divert 75% of the waste from the city away from landfills.
7. Austin, TX
Recently, the city of Austin has taken great strides in reducing waste and conserving energy.
- Austin has passed the Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance, which seeks to reduce the amount of single-use bags distributed by businesses and used by customer. The ordinance pushes for the use of reusable bags instead.
- The city also implemented the Universal Recycling Ordinance, requiring that residents and employees all have convenient recycling options available to them.
8. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis has pushed for green sustainability practices, especially with their tap water.
- The city has vouched for its tap water as providing a greener alternative to bottled water.
- The mayor's office no longer offers its visitors bottled water.
9. Seattle, WA
Seattle has been pushing the boundaries when it comes to running the city on cleaner energy.
- The city's utility company has been the first in the US to go carbon neutral.
- This innovation has been possible because of the area's many hydroelectric dams.
10. Salt Lake City, UT
Salt Lake City has been a leader in clean energy on multiple fronts.
- The city has reduced the carbon emissions produced by government buildings by 31%.
- Salt Lake City has further "greenified" by installing solar-powered parking meters and electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city.