Even if you follow the news regarding climate change and the announcements about what’s being done to mitigate its effects, it can be hard to know whether America is making progress or backsliding.
Often it’s a little bit of both.
Two weeks ago TriplePundit highlighted some of the politically elected leaders, conservative and liberal, who have been taking bold measures to transition their countries and communities towards a low-carbon future.
Now 3P turns that same magnifying glass on the cities themselves to determine which municipalities are taking steps to handle the impending climate crisis on their own.
To create this “Coolest Cities” ranking, Dr. Boyd Cohen of C02 Impact developed proxies for political commitment, university leadership, transit alternatives and ridership, private sector investment in clean tech, green buildings and GHG emissions.
Do You Live In A Climate-Ready City?
10. Chicago: Under the leadership of Mayor Richard Daley, the Windy City has made major strides in becoming probably the greenest metropolitan city in the Midwest, boasting more than 300 miles of bikeways, 7 million square feet of green roofs and more green hotels than any city in the U.S.
9. San Jose: In 2007, the San Jose city council approved a Green Vision which seeks to “transform San Jose into the world center of Clean Technology innovation” and to demonstrate that “the goals of economic growth, environmental stewardship and fiscal responsibility are inextricably linked.”
7. Philadelphia (tie with New York) Greenworks Philadelphia established 15 sustainability targets including energy, buildings, GHG reductions, waste, transit and agriculture among others. Along with Seattle and New York, Philadelphia was listed by Fast Company’s Ariel Schwartz, as a leading city in the U.S. for its aggressive GHG reduction targets.
7. New York (tie with Philadelphia) Conservative Mayor Bloomberg is a strong advocate for climate leadership and, once again, advocating setting targets and tracking performance. NYC made the news recently for transforming capped landfills into solar power plants, and is the envy of most cities in the U.S. when it comes to accessibility and use of rail transit (ranking #1 on transit/capita in this study). It is also the most dense city in North America.
6. San Diego: This sunny city intends to take advantage of its great weather by adding 50 megawatts of renewable energy by 2013 (much of it being new solar capacity) while achieving a 50 megawatt reduction in energy use through efficiency and demand side management measures. San Diego also has a 3-line, 82 kilometers light rail trolley system which has 90,000 daily trips.
5. Denver: In 2009, former Denver Mayor Hickenlooper was awarded the US Mayor’s Climate Protection Award for Denver’s Fast Track light rail program. According to a city press release, Denver’s Fast Track “is the most ambitious transit initiative in U.S. history…building 119 miles of new light rail” within just a few years. Along with strong sustainability objectives, Denver is projecting a 37 percent increase in job growth by 2030, showing that the low carbon economy is alive and well.
4. Washington, DC: Despite the high concentration of climate-denying lawmakers, the D.C. government has committed to reduce its emissions 30 percent by 2020, has passed a strong green building code, is 2nd in the country in green roofs (behind Chicago) and is 3rd in the nation in purchase of renewable power.
3. Portland, OR: This city aims to be “the most sustainable city in the world by investing in high performance buildings and green streets, ecosystem restoration, businesses that create sustainable economic opportunities for all, green and healthy affordable housing, and social equity policies and practices.”
2. Seattle: The Emerald City has some of the most LEED certified buildings in the U.S. (132), has an active clean tech investing sector, is home to six universities with advanced sustainability programs and is home to the country’s first major utility to become carbon neutral.
1. San Francisco: As one of only three cities in the nation who are members of the U.S. Mayors for Climate Protection, Clinton 40, the Carbon War Room, AND ICLEI, and home of the largest number of LEED certified buildings per capita in the U.S. its easy to see why the Bay area tops the list.
Please check out the full article on Triple Pundit to read more about Dr. Cohen’s methodology and personal experiences in the Coolest Cities in America.
Image Credit: Flickr - phototouring