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What Top 5 Green Cities are doing?

As green becomes more popular in our businesses and homes, it also becomes more popular in our cities as a whole. Local municipalities are striving to greenify their neighborhoods, downtowns and perimeters in an ongoing effort to make our world and daily living habits more healthy, pleasant and eco-friendly. From encouraging walkable neighborhood development to extensive recycling programs, cities around the globe are striving to become greener with sustainable business practices and consumer action.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Geographic Society’s Green Guide, and various online information, articles and city websites, we have compiled a list of five cities around the United States who have made notable steps in their efforts to go green, setting an example for other cities around the nation. Fortunately for us all, this list is not all inclusive – it is simply a sampling of cities that have made notable achievements in sustainability and environmental awareness.

San Francisco, California San Francisco often tops various lists for sustainable, green cities and has for some time. One of the biggest reasons that San Francisco is so green is because of its walkability; this is a great city for using foot power to get from place to place, and then occasionally jumping on any variety of public transportation for journeys too long to walk comfortably. More than half of the city’s residents use public transportation or alternative transportation (bicycles, roller blades, etc.) for their daily commute.

Golden Gate Bridge in GBB BLOG

Portland, Oregon It might be relatively easy to think of beautiful and crisp Portland Oregon as a green metropolis, but let’s look at some specifics anyway. Always a very active city, Portland has created various bicycle and carpool lanes and now sports an impressive 13% or more of their residences using carpools or other environmentally friendly methods of commuting. They also have extensive recycling programs, looking to recycle glass, plastic and yard waste. Finally, in an effort to improve air quality around the globe Portland is doing its part by getting a full 44% of its city power from sustainable sources such as wind and water power.

Boston, Massachusetts Among their notable projects are various efforts to use methane gas for power. Some of this will include methane pumped from landfills while other supplies are being intentionally created from anaerobic composting of yard waste. The city itself has embarked on the development of a huge power plant that will make use of yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, etc.) from around the city to generate as much as 1.5 megawatts of power. This plant will have a triple impact, helping to remove yard waste without filling up a land fill while also creating cleaner power and reducing the city’s reliance on imported fossil fuel.

Chicago, Illinois When you think of a city going green it can be relatively easy to envision a water front, hippy filled town like San Francisco topping the list, but a more traditional, business oriented city like Chicago may not be the first to leap to mind. However, Chicago is earning a reputation for going green with a variety of sustainable initiatives being utilized throughout the city. Chicago has excellent public transportation which makes it easier to use a city system than to drive an individual car. They have also recently made a commitment to renewable and sustainable energy systems. For example, all of Chicago’s city museums (nine total) have installed solar power arrays that are providing at least part of their building’s power. In fact, the city is striving to get 20% of its electricity from renewable resources within the next year. They have also rolled out generous tax incentives to encourage homeowners to use sustainable energy supplies.

Austin, Texas Another big surprise on our list of green cities is Austin, Texas. Sure, when you think of Texas you think of oil and there is little green about burning fossil fuels. However, the city is really stepping up and doing its part. The city started simply by creating green areas, now including over 200 parks throughout the city and various nature preserves, watersheds and other green areas. They are also striving to get the city to a point of being powered with at least 20% sustainable energy. While they have encouraged recycling for decades, a relatively new “pay-as-you-throw” program charges people for how much trash they throw away, encouraging reuse and recycling.


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