Meet the 5 Top Sustainable Cities

Some cities go above and beyond when it comes to sustainability. These top sustainable cities have chosen to disregard the notion that it is unnecessary to change habits for the future. They see the benefits in sustainability—both from an environmental and an economic perspective.

What is a sustainable city?

First, what is a sustainable city? What makes them special? There is not a specific definition for what makes a city sustainable, but minimizing air and water pollution, reducing waste, and rewarding eco-friendly behaviors are hallmarks of the most sustainable cities.

5 Top Sustainable Cities

  1. Portland, Oregon - Portland is home to many eco-friendly enterprises, and boasts a healthy biking community. Beyond that, Portland also has a unique program in place giving homeowners no-cost energy assessments, plus $2000 in financial incentives to retrofit their homes. In addition, the city has a cutting-edge composting program reducing trash by 38%.

  2. Copenhagen, Denmark - Copenhagen has gone to considerable lengths to encourage its residents to use bikes instead of cars. With an extensive network of well-maintained bike paths that link to commerce centers throughout the city, 37% of residents use a bike as their main mode of transportation.

  3. Reykjavik, Iceland - The crown jewel of this island nation has long used sustainable geothermal energy to heat its homes and businesses. In addition, residents are increasingly using hydrogen, methane, and electric cars to get around.

  4. San Francisco, California - Besides a healthy public transportation system and readily available neighborhood markets, San Francisco also composts, or recycles, 80% of its waste. The larger Bay Area is also a leader in LEED certified building practices.

  5. New York, New York - This bustling megalopolis boasts incredibly low levels of emissions per person. The relatively good air quality results from people walking, taking transit, or riding in taxicabs to get around. In addition, the city has banned foam food packaging, added electric vehicles to the city fleet, worked with restaurants to reduce food waste, and made sweeping changes to waste management programs. The city’s goal is to be the leading sustainable city in the world by 2030.
The common theme is that these sustainable cities are focused on improving mass transit and bike-friendly transportation options, reducing waste and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Each of these sustainable cities has a plan in place that will continue to improve sustainability over the next several years. These leaders are proving to the rest of the world that sustainability is not a dream.

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