From greenhouse gas emissions and climate change to urban sprawl and pollution, the great urban centers which are home to most Americans are responsible for much of the country’s environmental degradation. The outdated waste management systems, destructive industrial processes and failing infrastructure which are inherent to major cities all contribute to this ongoing problem. With the growing national movement to “go green” gaining momentum every day, many Americans are looking to relocate to one of the country’s most eco friendly places to live. Thousands of cities and towns from coast to coast have made serious progress in adopting greener practices, but there are five places which have earned a reputation as the greenest places to live in the country.
- San Francisco, California – The City by the Bay has long been a hub of environmental activism and its famously liberal denizens have fully embraced the eco friendly lifestyle. The public transit system in San Francisco is one of the city’s jewels, with its century old trolley and cable cars becoming worldwide icons, and today it serves as an example for other metropolises to follow. Nearly 50% of all San Franciscans make use of public transit, ride their bikes or walk through the city’s splendid natural scenery. San Francisco was also one of the first cities in America to ban the use of non-recyclable plastic shopping bags and leads the nation with more than 70 LEED-certified green building projects.
- Portland, Oregon – Known as the City of Rose, Portland has taken major steps towards reinventing itself with a more environmentally sound model and today more than half of its electricity comes from renewable resources. Its cutting-edge approach to urban planning has effectively mitigated the problem of urban sprawl while creating a vibrant, rich urban center filled with more than 92,000 acres of parks and nature preserves. Portland also made history by becoming the first American city to take comprehensive legislative action to reduce CO2 emissions.
- Boulder, Colorado – Nestled in the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Boulder is a city which has done well to preserve the splendor of its natural surroundings. By passing some of the most stringent laws to control urban expansion in the nation, the residents of Boulder have assured that the forests, meadows, rivers and lakes that they call home can be enjoyed by future generations.
- Piedmont, California – The Piedmont Climate Action Plan (CAP) represents one of America’s most encouraging steps forward in the climate debate. Enacted by the city’s residents, the CAP mandates high levels of recycling from construction and other industries, encourages Piedmont realtors to market LEED-certified eco friendly homes and regulates landscaping to reduce waste.
- Boston, Massachusetts – Proving that America’s oldest cities can still go green, Boston is a leader in public transportation and its “Green by 2015” initiative will shift the city’s traditional taxi fleet to hybrid vehicles. Another novel idea adopted by Bostonians is the transformation of trash to energy which can be used to power homes and businesses.