Green in the City

Author: Alecia Pirulis

San Francisco

Image via Wikipedia

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching and spring blooms popping up in the gardens, “green” is the hot color right now. So, how can you make your surroundings just a little bit greener? Surprisingly, being a city dweller may be the greenest choice you can make.

According to the Green City Index, major urban areas are leading the way in environmental performance. Here are some of the cities that topped the list:

San Francisco — Green initiatives that have lowered greenhouse gas emissions, businesses that are required to do energy efficiency audits, a comprehensive mass transit system, and the best rate of recycling in the US make San Francisco a green powerhouse. With the highest rate of public transport availability — 55 vehicles per square mile — San Francisco has the best extensive public transport system in the country – far ahead of New York.

New York – Put on your walking shoes and enjoy this stunning city. Even though it is the most densely populated city in the US, it came in as the third greenest city in the US. New York gets high marks for being the most pedestrian-friendly city with the highest number of people who use public transport, walk, or ride a bicycle as their primary mode of transportation. The city also received top marks for the amount of green space available – including iconic Central Park. About 20 percent of the city’s area is considered green space – an impressive accomplishment for such a crowded city.

Seattle – Well, of course the Emerald City is green. Seattle is green in every sense, from its lush green parks to its environmentally-friendly policies. Seattle ranks number one in energy-efficient buildings and fourth overall, primarily for its trailblazing (and somewhat lofty) environmental goals.

Denver – Coming in at number five, the beautiful Mile-High City scored highest with its energy policies and environmental governance, scoring top marks in both categories. Denver has an impressive amount of locally produced energy, something only a handful of cities have been able to achieve. Denver is home to the greenest zoo in the country, the Denver Zoo, which tries to make all aspects of operations sustainable and participates in conservation and research projects.

While these cities stand out in their achievements, they aren’t the only cities making great progress in their environmental goals. Portland, Oregon, for example, is a recognized leader in environmentally-friendly policies and is considered one of the greenest cities in the world. Washington, DC has taken a leadership role in the area of environmental governance and nearly 70 percent of DC residents recycle. Gainesville, Florida has a Clean and Green Program to reduce litter and waste, beautify the community, and protect the environment.

No matter where you live, there are things you can do to help “green up” your environment. Find a recycling center in your area, get the schedules and routes for public transportation, and learn more about green living. When others in your community see you conserving resources, going green (and getting fit!) by walking to work, and being more aware of energy-efficiency, it may just start a trend.