Americans ranked last in sustainable behavior in comparison to other countries on the list, according to a Greendex report conducted by the National Geographic Society. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any signs of positive, upward momentum. Americans are above average when it comes to recycling and surpassed Canadian, British and Australian consumers. The findings in the report are open to speculation, but seem to point to Americans not understanding how to go green in other ways.
Fortunately cities throughout the United States are working diligently to clean up their urban landscape and embrace a more sustainable way of living. From green transportation to producing and growing local agriculture, here are a handful of cities leading the eco-friendly revolution.
Raleigh was the first in North Carolina to receive a 4-star community rating for national excellence in sustainability through the STAR rating. It was also the first city in the world to join the Cree LED City program with more than 40 installations from accent to parking lot lighting. The city continues to favor LED renovations and energy efficiency.
Aside from its focus on sustainability, Raleigh ranks in the top 10 for jobs with 24,000 openings, and attracts professionals looking for a dynamic, world-class city with hundreds of restaurants, parks, recreational opportunities and cultural attractions. Newcomers can check out Rent.com to find a sustainable, eco-friendly place to live, whether it’s on the outskirts of the city or near Research Triangle Park, which has a host of steadily growing health and technology companies.
Chicago took a strong lead in innovative environmental initiatives that helped shape its Sustainable Chicago plan for 2015. The city’s ambitions include helping homes and businesses achieve 20 percent energy efficiency improvements, increasing public transportation ridership, making the city more pedestrian and bike-friendly, and protecting water quality.
The city is also embracing the spirit of their late 1800s ancestors who worked to save their lakefront and laid a groundwork for economic growth and an active lifestyle. Chicago is now looking to turn the Chicago River into a second waterfront to help storm water management and promote outdoor recreation and a more vibrant and green city.
Portland, Oregon, consistently ranks in just about every green living and environmentally friendly list. The city uses 20 percent more renewable energy than the national average and features 250 miles of bike paths and other trails. Portland regularly holds fix-it fairs to repair and repurpose household items and beyond, as well as learning more about solar alternatives and reducing energy costs. And because of the enormous popularity for sustainable living in Portland, real estate agencies and builders alike cater to the demand for green-focused living.
- San Francisco
San Francisco has a long history of being environmentally friendly from its electric cable cars to pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and bike culture. San Franciscans are proud of being green and boast a 77 percent recycling rate and are supporters of composting. Local industry also supports the city’s green ambitions as the headquarters of more than 225 cleantech startups that were founded right in San Francisco.