Quantcast
Business

10 Greenest Cities in North America

What's the greenest city in North America? Electric-green cities such as Portland or San Francisco are usually given the title, but according to two new reports that have ranked metropolitan areas on green roofs and energy efficiency, the traditional favorites have not received top billing.

Green roofs in Washington, DC combat heat island effect and helps insulate buildings and lowers energy usage.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

With its installation of 1.2 million square feet of green roofs in 2014, Washington, DC can quite literally claim the crown of greenest U.S. city.

This is according to a new report from the nonprofit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), which has ranked the top ten North American metropolitan regions that have installed the most square footage of green roofs last year.

This is the fourth time the nation's capital has sat on the top spot. According to a press release, DC has public policies and programs that support green roof investment, including rebates of $7-$15 per square foot per green roof installed and credits that reduce stormwater fees.

Green roofs have a number of environmentally friendly benefits, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Like an oasis in a concrete jungle, green roofs absorb heat which helps mitigate urban heat islands. They also act as insulators for buildings and thus reduces a building's energy needs for cooling and heating.

Green roofs aren't just good for the environment. A new study from the University of Melbourne found that being on a rooftop gardens for 40 seconds can markedly increase concentration and productivity levels.

Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago and New York City round out the top five. Incidentally, this is the first time a Canadian city has entered the top five, thanks to Toronto's 2009 law mandating that all new buildings include rooftop plants.

Photo Credit: Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

“It comes as no surprise that the top performing regions are those that invest directly and indirectly in green roof infrastructure projects to create green space, mitigate storm-water run-off, improve air quality and moderate the urban heat island effect,” said GRHC founder and president Steven W. Peck.

Read page 1

The GRHC report, however, did point out that the green roof industry has declined 12 percent after seeing double-digit growth for the past decade. The GRHC said that possible contributing factors to this include a decline in government stimulus funding (which fueled much of the previous years' growth), as well as climate change causing extreme temperature fluctuations due to on the installation and maintenance of green roofs in North America.

In another nod to DC, the city also landed on the top five of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy′s (ACEEE) latest rankings of the most energy-efficient cities in the nation.

The council released an online scorecard of the 51 of the largest cities in the country based on energy efficiency in local government operations, community-wide initiatives, green buildings, productive relationships with energy and water utilities and transportation.

Boston, with a score of 82 out of 100, received marks for its ordinance that requires all buildings to benchmark and report its energy usage, as well as its partnership with local utilities to connect residents with energy-saving services.

"It is an honor Boston has been recognized as America's most energy-efficient city," said Mayor Marty Walsh. "Our goal is to help Boston residents and businesses save energy and money, and through collaborative efforts with our utility partners, Eversource and National Grid, we are creating a thriving, healthy and innovative Boston. I look forward to continuing these efforts for both our environment and residents."

Trailing Boston in energy efficiency are, in order: New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco and Seattle.

“Our findings show that cities continue to be laboratories of innovation when it comes to energy efficiency, with many pushing the envelope for more energy savings in the last few years," said ACEEE research analyst and lead report author David Ribeiro. "Cities are also improving their approaches when it comes to tracking and communicating their efforts to save energy. By capturing these efforts in the Scorecard we hope local leaders from cities of all sizes can learn best practices from each other and deliver the benefits of energy efficiency to their communities, such as a stronger economy and a cleaner environment.”

Check out the graph below to see how cities scored.

Boston, New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco and Seattle are the countries' most energy efficient cities, according to the ACEEE. Photo Credit: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

25 Most Energy Efficient Cities—Find Out Which City Dethroned the Six Time Champion?

France Mandates New Roofs Must Be Covered in Solar Panels or Plants

Did We Almost Lose New York?

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Popular

New Mexico Tribes Step Up to Protect Land Before Fossil Fuels Vote

Native American tribes are voicing concerns and demanding input on regulations on fossil fuel development in a New Mexico county, in the latest wave of tribal voices growing louder on oil and gas development across the country.

Sandoval County, home to 12 Native tribes, will hold a final vote in January on a draft ordinance to regulate oil and gas development in the county. In packed public meetings over the proposed ordinance last week, tribal leaders called out the lack of tribal input in the draft ordinance and raised concerns over the ordinance's lack of protections for water, air and land resources.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Thanksgiving Is the Perfect Time to Give Up Meat

By Peter Kalmus

Of all our holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. It's a time out from the frenetic pace of life, a time for families to slow down and gather in the kitchen—to just be. It doesn't lend itself to the garish onslaught of commercialization. (You can sense the capitalist frustration and over-compensation in that oddest of add-ons, Black Friday). And for me, Thanksgiving was the perfect time to finally give up meat.

My journey to vegetarianism has been one of gradual awareness. In college, while living off campus, I discovered the wonders of cooking Indian food. Because the one cookbook I owned was from the Vaishnava tradition, my Indian cookery was strictly vegetarian. At a formative period of my life, I fell in love with the flavors of India. Those dishes never wanted for meat.

Keep reading... Show less
Red wolf in Randolph, North Carolina. Valerie / Flickr

Senate Republicans Push for Extinction of North Carolina's Red Wolf

Tucked away in the Senate report accompanying Monday's funding bill for the Department of the Interior is a directive to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to "end the Red Wolf recovery program and declare the Red Wolf extinct."

"Senate Republicans are trying to hammer a final nail in the coffin of the struggling red wolf recovery program," said Perrin de Jong, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It is morally reprehensible for Senator Murkowski and her committee to push for the extinction of North Carolina's most treasured wild predator. Instead of giving up on the red wolf, Congress should fund recovery efforts, something lawmakers have cynically blocked time and time again."

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pexels

Connecting With Nature Improves Minds and Moods

By Marlene Cimons

Twentieth Century German social psychologist Erich Fromm first advanced the notion that humans hold an inborn connection to nature. Later, it was popularized by biologist E.O. Wilson as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life." In the ensuing years, support for the positive effects of nature has gained considerable traction, grounded in a growing body of research.

In recent weeks, at least four new studies have emerged adding more validity to what science repeatedly has revealed: Being around nature is good for us. The latest research shows that interacting with nature makes the brain stronger and soothes the psyche.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
The Trump administration has proposed increased entry fees at 17 national parks, including the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park / Flickr

You Now Have More Time to Protest National Park Fee Hikes

Following widespread outrage, the National Parks Service (NPS) has extended the comment period for the public to weigh in on the proposed rate hikes at 17 of the most popular national parks across the country.

The comment period now closes Dec. 22, 2017. The original deadline had been set for Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Coral growth near Aqaba, Jordan. kaetidh / Flickr

Northern Red Sea Could Be Unique Global Warming Refuge for Coral

Lying at the northern tip of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba might be able sustain its coral population for another 100 to 150 years, despite global warming, new research predicts.

Scientists from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the University of Essex and Al-Azhar University believe that a stretch of nearly 1,120 miles could become one of the few—and one of the largest—refuges for coral.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
An oil train moves through California's Central Valley. In 2009, 10,000 tank cars transported crude oil in the entire U.S. This one terminal alone proposed bringing in 73,000 cars a year. Elizabeth Forsyth / Earthjustice

Victory: Concerned Citizens and Environmental Groups Stop Oil Train in Its Tracks

A coalition of concerned citizens, environmental groups, and health and safety advocates successfully challenged the approval of a massive refinery and rail project that will further harm air quality in the San Joaquin Valley and subject residents in several states to the catastrophic risks of a derailment involving scores of tanker cars filled with explosive Bakken crude oil.

The Alon Bakersfield Refinery Crude Flexibility Project, approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors, would have enabled the refinery to unload crude from more than 200 tanker train cars per day, allowing it to import up to 63.1 million barrels of crude oil per year. A lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Association of Irritated Residents, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club claimed that Kern County's certification of an environmental impact report (EIR) failed to meet its legal duty to fully assess the project's risks and disclose them to the public. The court agreed.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

Keystone Pipeline Permit Could Be Revoked After Last Week's 210,000-Gallon Spill

TransCanada's permit to operate its Keystone tar sands pipeline in South Dakota could be revoked if an investigation into last week's 210,000-gallon leak determines that the pipeline operator violated its license, Reuters reported.

State regulators expressed concern that the Nov. 16 spill in Marshall County was not the first from the controversial pipeline.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!