How Green Is Your City?

October 12, 2016
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The idea of “going green” has far reach into many industries – banking, farming, urban planning, and healthcare just to name a few. As individuals, we’re increasingly aware of the materials we use, the food we eat, where it’s sourced, and where it ends up. These concerns naturally seep into our communities, where the call for greener living is – or isn’t – addressed.

To help you see where your community stands, WalletHub presents their study of 2016’s Greenest Cities in America. They look at data in four categories – environment, transportation, sources of energy, and lifestyle & policy – from the 100 most populated cities in the country.

Green Space and Farmers Markets

In any city, access to nature is important, whether it’s a small community garden or a sprawling public park. The top five cities with the highest percentage of green space are:
Honolulu, HI
Anchorage, AK
Fremont, CA
Chesapeake, VA
New Orleans, LA

And the bottom five cities:
Laredo, TX
Lexington, KY
Norfolk, VA
Hialeah, FL
North Las Vegas, NV

Farmers markets, as we know, provide fresh and local food to cities and they give farmers an important source of income. The top five cities with the largest number of farmers markets per capita are:
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Portland, OR
Honolulu, HI
Los Angeles, CA

And the bottom five cities:
Irving, TX
Greensboro, NC
El Paso, TX
North Las Vegas, NV
Newark, NJ

The Best and the Worst

Overall, the city with the highest score of all four categories is San Francisco, CA. Coming in last: Baton Rouge, LA.

See how all 100 cities rank, and the lowest/highest ranked cities for greenhouse gas emissions, commuters who drive, and people who bike.

The Smartest Way to Go Green

WalletHub asked a panel of experts about the benefits of going green, and for some advice on keeping sustainability efforts on the right track.

Which policies or investments deliver the biggest returns?

“Trees! An aggressive tree planning program offers aesthetic appeal as well as shade and cleaner air. Such a program contributes to neighborhoods, parks, and the public streets.” – Robert M MacLeod, Professor and Director of the School of Architecture & Community Design, U of South Florida

“Investment in infrastructure that enables a significant amount of devehicularization probably offers the greatest possible return. The transport, storage, fueling, sale, and disposal of vehicles takes up about 40% of the land base of most cities. Also, since virtually no city produces oil or manufactures cars or trucks, vehicles represent the greatest hemorrhaging of cash out of any metro economy (save perhaps the importation of food).” – Robert Young, Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture, U of Texas at Austin

Easy ways individuals can go green

“There are many other ways, including taking a bike or using mass transit instead of driving a car to get somewhere, or growing your own food or buying only locally-sourced food in order to limit ‘food miles’ – the energy that goes into the transportation of food.” – Stefan Al, Associate Professor of Urban Design at the University of Pennsylvania

“Living near enough to work to walk or ride a bicycle. Breaking the compulsive consumer habit. It is easier to not spend money than to make more.” – Robert Young, Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture, U of Texas at Austin

"The best and most effective improvements come from good old energy efficiency (better insulation at home, thicker windows, energy efficient lights, etc.).” – Ted Loch-Temzelides, Professor of Economics and Rice Scholar in Energy Studies at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

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