Thursday, April 03, 2008

How Green Is Your City?

We've heard all the recent brouhaha about the EPA's lackadaisical approach to environmental legislation and enforcement, and many of us have given up believing that the federal government is the agency that will ever take the lead in serious environmental action. Fortunately for us, many of our largest cities are leading the way in creating clean and green communities. Popular Science recently had an article listing the fifty greenest cities in America, using raw data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Geographic Society’s Green Guide, which collected survey data and government statistics for American cities of over 100,000 people in more than 30 categories, including air quality, electricity use and transportation habits. They then compiled these statistics into four broad categories, each scored out of either 5 or 10 possible points. The sum of these four scores determines a city’s place in the rankings. The four categories, further explained in the article, are: Electricity, Transportation, Green Living, Recycling and Green Perspective.

Numbers one and two on the list, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, CA, are not surprises, but some of the others, including my own current hometown of Albuquerqu, NM at #16, are. The six case studies on how some of the cities are going about this process of cleaning and greening, including Oakland's Zero Emission Bus, Salt Lake City's pulling heat from warm sewage water (go figure, huh!) and NYC's turning the nasty East River into a valuable power source, are one of the most interesting parts of the article. This is the kind of innovative thinking that we need everywhere right now, and these examples buoy me up considerably.

It's interesting to note that SustainLane did a similar study in 2006, this one taking the fifty largest US cities as its targets. The top two cities are the same in both studies, but they diverge after that. Check out both lists, see where your burg ranks. It's a fascinating list to keep tabs on as time goes by (Photo of Number One Green City, Portland, Oregon.)

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posted at 12:32:00 PM by marigolds2

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