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Jul 29

Lessons from the Three Greenest Cities in the United States

Seattle at night

Each year, various publications throughout the world determine which cities are the most environmentally friendly. With the “green” revolution gaining ever more popularity throughout the United States in the past few decades, many cities strive each year to up their ranking within these publications and further minimize their negative impact on the environment. The Siemens Green City Report base its scores on a city’s carbon dioxide emissions, energy use, land use, buildings, transportations, water, waste, air, and environmental governance. Many publications only look at a set number of several major cities throughout the United States. The objective of these rankings is to allow comparison of cities against their peers and thus to provide insights for authorities, policymakers, and citizens into their city’s environmental strengths and weaknesses. San Francisco, New York, and Seattle are three of the highest green ranking cities in North America.

San Francisco, California
With 4.3 million people living in this small metropolitan area in Northern California, it’s particularly inspiring that San Francisco tops the list for the entire North American Continent. Siemens ranks San Fran first in green waste management out of every city evaluated in North America. It is the only city in the report to achieve full marks (100 points) in a main category other than environmental governance. In August 2010, San Francisco reached a recycling rate of 77%. This rate far exceeds nearly any other city in the US and Canada with an average for the cities reported on at a 26% recycling rate. San Francisco was the first city in the United States to mandate composting and recycling in 2009. All residents, organized events, and food establishments are required to separate waste into three separate containers for waste, recyclables, and compost material. Also, the city has banned the use of plastic bags in stores and grocery markets.

New York City, New York
As the largest city in the United States, with approximately 19 million people living in the metropolitan area, New York City ranks third on the overall green index behind San Francisco and Vancouver. New York dominates the board in the category of green transport, coming at the top post with 76.6 points on the Siemens report. With an extensive subway system and bus network, New York City boasts 37% of its residents using alternative means of transportation other than private car. The report average for this category is 13%, with New York well above even the second best city in North America, Montreal at 29%. Furthermore, The Big Apple has the second highest number of public transport vehicles per square mile, at 45 vehicles compared to the index average of nine. Of these public transport vehicles, more than 850 of them are hybrid buses. New York City’s green transportation initiatives are something for other cities and organizations to aspire to.

Seattle, Washington
Taking the top spot for green buildings, Seattle gains 98.2 points on the Siemens report. Seattle (alongside New York) scores top marks in the category’s two main policy areas for energy efficient buildings: standards and incentives. Seattle policymakers set a mandate in 2004 that all municipal buildings over 5,000 square feet must receive LEED silver certification. Now, Seattle boasts an impressive number of LEED certified buildings, with 17 buildings qualifying for every 100,000 people. Furthermore, the city launched a Community Power Works program in mid 2010, dedicated to stimulating the job market and achieving 15% to 45% in energy savings per building. Also, an initiative launched in 2009 aims to improve energy efficiency by 20% in existing residential and commercial buildings. These green building efforts have helped Seattle become one of the leading cities in green living and sustainability throughout all of North America.

 

Author bio:
This guest post is contributed by Barbara Jolie, who writes for online classes. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: barbara.jolie876@gmail.com.

1 comment

  1. Tim Cole

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