When one thinks of sustainable living, urban centers probably don’t come to mind. Yet, it’s where the vast majority of people in the country live and work. Therefore, cities hold the power to make the greatest impact when it comes to cleaning up the air and reducing carbon emissions. The team at Battleface, a leading travel insurance company, ranked Washington, D.C., New York City, Portland, Seattle and Boston as the cities leading the country in sustainable actions.
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The rankings are based on five factors: carbon emissions, transportation, green spaces, infrastructure for electric vehicles and access to vegan food options. Each city was ranked for each category and also given an overall sustainability ranking.
Related: Washington, D.C. ranks as the best parks in the US
Not surprisingly, Washington, D.C. captured the top spot. As we recently reported, the city was ranked number one for the second year in a row in the Trust for Public Land’s study of the best park systems in the U.S. (see link to article above). In the Battleface study, D.C. came in second for green spaces, only beat out by Albuquerque, NM (who ranked 12 overall). D.C. came in first for sustainable transportation and carbon emission suppression.
New York is another city well-known for its sustainability efforts. In common with D.C., New York has committed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in line with the U.N. Paris Climate Agreement goals. New York is also working towards cleaning up electricity production with the goal to provide 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. As a result, it ranks second for both carbon emissions and sustainable transportation, with a high number of pedestrian commuters and over half the city using public transportation.
Coming in at third place overall, Portland, OR offers high rankings for carbon emissions and transportation, plus provides access to vegan restaurants. It’s not too surprising in a city that lauds a hipster vibe and promotes a motto of “Keep Portland Weird.” Along with honoring inclusive diversity, Portland is a city built along the Willamette River in a state supported by the forestry industry.
Seattle, Washington is another shining example of sustainable action within the Northwest. Initiatives to promote public transit, biking and electric vehicles landed it in fourth place. Looking towards a future with a reduced reliance on fossil fuels, the city already ranks third in the nation for accessibility to EV charging stations and is planning to ban cars from a section of the city to further promote pedestrian and bike usage.
Meanwhile, Boston, Massachusetts ranks fifth on the list. In the past, it’s a city that’s been ranked for having the worst drivers in the country, being widely recognized as a walkable city. Perhaps this combination has contributed to the current ranking of third in the nation for sustainable transportation. It also comes in fifth for EV infrastructure (charging stations).
On the other hand, considering the greater Las Vegas area includes the notable and resource consumptive Las Vegas strip, it’s a bit surprising the city could make any list related to sustainability, let alone be in the top six. Yet, here she sits. In a state with few resources besides abundant desert sun, Vegas ranks high for carbon emission control as well as green spaces. There may be a relationship between the two, considering trees and plants drink up carbon, sequestering it in the soil and releasing oxygen in return.
Rounding out the top 10 cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Denver. How does your city rank?
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