Today we have a special guest, Hannah West, talking about America's greenest cities.
The realization that humans need to be better stewards of the earth is spreading like wildfire—as are the technologies that help us decrease our negative impact. But the massive green movement isn’t in full swing yet. It still needs attention, innovation, and tirelessly bold leaders. Thankfully, it’s not just individuals or groups, but entire cities that are setting an example for the U.S. and the rest of the world.
With strengths ranging from air quality and energy sources to transportation and recycling, here are some of the greenest cities across the nation that are ahead of the pack:
As of 2015, around 12 percent of homes employed a rooftop solar system in Hawaii. Honululu residents tend toward buying local produce, which saves on fossil fuels used to import items. In fact, the city has the largest number of farmers markets per capita. There’s also a large amount of green space and a low amount of greenhouse gases per capita.
The U.S. is proud of its capital for many reasons, not the least of these being it’s high ranking on the green cities spectrum. The city has an extremely efficient metro, which cuts down on the number of residents who commute by car. D.C. also recently installed 1.2 million square feet of green roofs, which improve air quality and make homes more energy efficient. Additionally, it contains 230,000 acres of green space.
San Francisco has a little bit of everything—a high number of walking commuters, heavy reliance on solar energy, and many farmers markets per capita. But it has also made a crucial and successful roundabout that’s completely unprecedented: in 2012, it converted 80 percent of its landfill waste to recycled or composted material. The city seeks to do the same to 100 percent of its waste by 2020. While the city’s high waste levels were what initially pushed it to take action, this is still an impressive accomplishment.
While it’s unsurprising that Seattle is covered in green spaces, the city boasts a surprisingly impressive amount of parks—they account for 10 percent of the whole city. Many residents commute via walking, biking and public transit. Statistics from 2012 show that nine percent of residents walked to work that year. An emphasis on locally sourced foods and vegan dining contribute to Seattle’s green reputation as well.
Miami has a bit of an advantage when it comes to the climate; not only is it ideal for solar, but the year-round warm temperatures call for less residential heating, which means a lower rate of fossil fuel usage. Miami boasts healthy air quality and a high number of carpoolers.
These cities and several more offer us a glimpse into the future, of what’s possible when the government, organizations, and citizens work together to achieve needed positive progress.