Four of Top Five Greenest Cities in U.S. Are In California

The annual ranking of the greenest cities in the U.S., as ranked by the consumer website WalletHub, came out on Tuesday and San Francisco, San Diego and Irvine California were the top three, in that order, with Washington, D.C ranked fourth and San Jose in the fifth spot.  They determined the top cities by looking at the 100 largest cities across 28 key “green” indicators, including greenhouse-gas emissions per capita, the number of smart-energy policies, and green job opportunities.  Toledo, Corpus Christi, and Baton Rouge were the bottom three.

Why This Matters: California had 7 of the top 10 cities — only Washington, D.C., Seattle and Portland made the top ten.  Despite the Trump Administration’s claims to the contrary, in an independent evaluation, California came out on top — which shows that it’s strong environmental laws and sustainability programs make a difference.  According to WalletHub, a clean environment is very important to most Americans.  Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that “stricter environmental regulations are worth the cost.” And a majority of Americans think the government is currently doing too little to improve water and air quality (69% and 64%, respectively).

WalletHub Ranked Many Indicators

  • Best Bike Cities (in order):  Minneapolis, San Francisco, Madison, Portland, and Denver
  • Worst Bike Cities (in order): Cincinnati, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Nashville, and Birmingham
  • Most Farmer’s Markets Per Capita: Honolulu, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, and New York
  • Fewest Farmer’s Markets Per Capita: Fort Wayne, Lincoln, North Las Vegas, Irving, Newark
  • Highest Percentage of Green Space Per Capita: Anchorage, Fremont, Irvine, Scottsdale,  and North Las Vegas
  • Lowest Percentage of Green Space Per Capita: Gilbert (AZ), Fresno, Lexington, Laredo, and Hialeah
  • Lowest Greenhouse Gas Emissions Per Capita: Virginia Beach, Oakland, Buffalo, Reno, Hialeah, and San Bernadino
  • Highest Greenhouse Gas Emissions Per Capita: Oklahoma City, Louisville, Denver, Tulsa, Baton Rouge, and Corpus Christi

Advice For Cities:

Climate Change:  “By preparing for extreme rainfall events, heat waves, or droughts, cities can stay ahead of some climate change costs. Increasing native plantings and riparian buffers within cities helps with all of these climate change impacts, and creates a more unique sense of place for residents and visitors.”

Best Bang For Buck: “Subsidies for mass transit, both to assist people who cannot afford their regular use and for great and more frequent service. Lower-income people often have long commutes, often in non-energy efficient automobiles because of costs; and these trips, essential to their livelihood, create considerable emissions.”

Biggest Benefit: “The biggest benefits from going green are improvements to health. Cleaner air and water result in substantial health gains. This allows people to be more productive and lowers health care spending. These benefits often far outweigh the financial costs of these policies. Better air and water quality and more green spaces also generally make people happier and more satisfied with their communities.”

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