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Advance Praise for

How Green is Your City?

How Green is Your City? has the most rigorous methodology going
to separate the bright greens from the pale greens, yellows and
reds. Green cities are the future, read this book!
Randy Hayes, Founder, Rainforest Action Network, Former
Director of Sustainability, City of Oakland, CA

With global warming and rising energy prices breathing down our
collective necks, its refreshing to see that cities are providing
more renewable energy, encouraging local food production, under-
taking climate protection campaigns, promoting alternative fuels
and public transportation, creating a better quality of life and
working for greater overall sustainable economic development.
How Green is Your City? provides the first benchmark quantifying
and qualifying management innovation and the performance of
American cities as they seek to define what sustainability is.
Hunter Lovins, Co-author, Natural Capitalism, Founder, Natural
Capitalism, Inc., and Co-founder, Rocky Mountain Institute

Sustainability is more than an environmental issue. Its about our

economic and personal security, as well as the health and well-
being of our families and neighbors. How Green is My City? is a
powerful indicator of how prepared cities are to address both the
challenges and opportunities ahead. It is destined to play a critical
role in leading local governments to help their economies and
communities survive and thrive in uncertain times.
Joel Makower, Founder, GreenBiz.com, and Co-founder and
Principal, Clean Edge, Inc.

How Green is Your City? is the first national ranking of 50 US cities

evaluating how well cities are doing in implementing sustainable
practices based on a comprehensive set of indicators, ranging from
air quality to use of renewable energy. This is a must read for city
officials and citizens who are interested in how cities are respond-
ing to the integrated global challenges of environmental and
economic sustainability.
Prof. Susan M. Wachter, Co-director, Institute for Urban
Research, and Director, Wharton GeoSpatial Initiative, The
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Cities provide the home for the majority of the earths population
and are the greatest consumers of energy, water and resources;
they also are tremendous generators of waste and pollution.
Billions of city dwellers can be unwitting armies of mass
destruction or powerful forces for planetary healing, depending
on their citys environmental and sustainability performance.
How Green is Your City? provides timely and vital information and
feedback to city residents and policy makers to help them more
rapidly shift their public systems and private lifestyles toward
repair and revitalization.
Andy Lipkis, Founder and President, TreePeople

San Francisco is honored to be awarded by SustainLane in its

comprehensive sustainability City Rankings study. Sustainability is
important not only for protecting citizens health and ensuring a
great quality of life here in San Francisco, but also for boosting the
local economy with jobs and services in everything from clean
technologies to fresh food and green building products
produced in California.
Gavin Newsom, Mayor, San Francisco

As Americas largest city, New York is honored to be recognized

by SustainLane as one of the countrys ten most sustainable cities.
Putting principles of sustainable development into practice is cru-
cial to making sure that this city continues to be a place where
people want to live and businesses want to grow in the 21st cen-
tury. We know that our city must lead by example and we are
working hard to make the Big Apple a green apple.
Michael R. Boomberg, Mayor, New York City

Surveys such as SustainLanes go a long way toward helping

the nation understand what constitutes a better and more
sustainable urban environment.
The Washington Post, June, 2006
Cataloging in Publication Data:
A catalog record for this publication is available from the
National Library of Canada.

Copyright 2007 by Warren Karlenzig.

All rights reserved.

Cover design by Diane McIntosh.

Cover photos (clockwise, upper right): Austin, Texas skyline; San Francisco
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market; Light rail line in Denver; Chicago City Hall green
rooftop; Minneapolis from Mississippi River; LEED Certified Vellum Natural
Capital Center in Portland, Oregon; Oakland panorama from Oakland hills;
Willamette River in Portland, Oregon; Grand Central Station in New York City;
Seattles Pike Place Market.

Printed in Canada.
First printing February 2007.

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-86571-595-0

Inquiries regarding requests to reprint all or part of How Green is Your City?
should be addressed to New Society Publishers at the address below.

To order directly from the publishers, please call toll-free (North America)
1-800-567-6772, or order online at www.newsociety.com

Any other inquiries can be directed by mail to:

New Society Publishers
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New Society Publishers mission is to publish books that contribute in funda-
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models this vision. We are committed to doing this not just through educa-
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remaining ancient forests by phasing out our paper supply from ancient
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Acknowledgments .................................................................................ix
Foreword by Paul Hawken ......................................................................xi
Part 1: Introduction ..............................................................................xv
How Green Is Your City? .......................................................................1
How We Did It The Methodology ....................................................11
Part II: The Rankings ...........................................................................19
City Rankings (with one corresponding bar chart for each)
#1 Portland, OR: A Role Model for the Nation ....................................21
#2 San Francisco, CA: Still a Shining Example ...................................25
#3 Seattle, WA: Protecting a Promising Future....................................29
#4 Chicago, IL: The Wind at Its Back ................................................33
#5 Oakland, CA: Stepping out of the Shadows ...................................37
#6 New York City, NY: Sustainability Out of Necessity........................39
#7 Boston, MA: It Only Gets Better....................................................43
#8 Philadelphia, PA: City on the Move...............................................45
#9 Denver, CO: On the Fast Track......................................................49
#10 Minneapolis, MN: Clean Air, Big Plans..........................................53
#11 Baltimore, MD: A Port Town Reinventing Itself..............................57
#12 Washington, DC: Leading by Example...........................................59
#13 Sacramento, CA: Capital Ideas......................................................63
#14 Austin, TX: A Pioneer ..................................................................65
#15 Honolulu, HI: Almost Paradise......................................................69
#16 Milwaukee, WI: From Beer to Biomass..........................................71
#17 San Diego, CA: An Emerging Leader?............................................73
#18 Kansas City, MO: Laying the Groundwork .....................................77
#19 Albuquerque, NM: Making a U-Turn .............................................81
#20 Tucson, AZ: Becoming Sustainable in the Sun Belt ........................85
#21 San Antonio, TX: Building on a Broad Range of Strengths .............87
#22 Phoenix, AZ: Something New Under the Sun ................................91
#23 San Jose, CA: High Tech Hub Makes Strides..................................93
#24 Dallas, TX: Taking the Bull by the Horns.......................................97

Contents | vii
#25 Los Angeles, CA: Significant Progress ...........................................99
#26 Colorado Springs, CO: Growing Up Smart ....................................103
#27 Las Vegas, NV: Viva? ..................................................................105
#28 Cleveland, OH: Give and Take on the Lake ..................................109
#29 Miami, FL: Gateway of the Americas ...........................................111
#30 Long Beach, CA: A Sea of Opportunities......................................113
#31 El Paso, TX: Bordering on Sustainability ......................................115
#32 New Orleans, LA: Resiliently Facing the Future ............................117
#33 Fresno, CA: Natures Bounty .......................................................119
#34 Charlotte, NC: New Alternatives in the Pipeline ...........................121
#35 Louisville, KY: City of Parks........................................................125
#36 Jacksonville, FL: Thinking Ahead................................................127
#37 Omaha, NE: Encouraging Signs in the Heartland..........................131
#38 Atlanta, GA: Inland Port Takes Baby Steps...................................133
#39 Houston, TX: Moving Forward ....................................................137
#40 Tulsa, OK: Rich History. Clean Tech Future? ................................139
#41 Arlington, TX, Texas: City at a Crossroads ...................................143
#42 Nashville, TN: Music City...........................................................145
#43 Detroit, MI: Opportunities for Change .........................................147
#43 Memphis, TN: Living for Today ..................................................149
#45 Indianapolis, IN: Time for a Pit Stop? ..........................................151
#46 Fort Worth, TX: Taking Steps Toward Sustainability .....................155
#47 Mesa, AZ: Surviving the Desert Boom.........................................157
#48 Virginia Beach, VA: Not Just for Tourists Anymore ......................159
#49 Oklahoma City, OK: Planting a Few Seeds ...................................161
#50 Columbus, OH: Time to Get Green..............................................165
Part III: Cities by Category Ranking....................................................167
City Commuting................................................................................169
Regional Public Transportation Ridership............................................171
Metro Street and Freeway Congestion.................................................173
Air Quality........................................................................................175
Tap Water Quality .............................................................................177
Solid Waste Diversion........................................................................179
Planning and Land Use......................................................................181
City Innovation .................................................................................183
Housing Affordability ........................................................................185
Natural Disaster Risk.........................................................................187
Energy Climate Change Policy ...........................................................189
Local Food and Agriculture ................................................................191
Green Economy ................................................................................193
Knowledge Base and Communications ...............................................195
Green (LEED) Building ......................................................................197
Index ..................................................................................................199
About the Authors ..............................................................................207

viii | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?

I want to thank everyone at

SustainLane and beyond who
helped develop How Green Is Your
City? The SustainLane US City
First, I want to thank
SustainLane CEO James Elsen, who
suggested a green city ranking back
in October 2004 as a way to get citi-
zens as interested in sustainability
as they are in their sports teams.
The idea came full circle when we
presented Portland, Oregon Mayor
Tom Potter a trophy for the citys
number one ranking during a cere-
mony set in a downtown sports
stadium, as part of the 2006
Portland Rose Festival. James, your
support, ideas and interest have
been instrumental in this book com-
ing together. (Igor Liner made the
original trophy cast in recycled
bronze that we awarded to
Many other SustainLaners
helped along the way: Frank
Marquardt and David Hayward for
their tireless and good-natured edit-
ing; Richard Young, Rachel Yaseen
and Paula White for their tenacious
researching, city outreach and com-
pelling writing. Aaron Proujansky

Acknowledgments | ix
also helped develop the research were rigorous and creative in
methodology and data management improving the integrity of the study.
system. Kai-Hua Cheng and Valerie Thanks to the scores of city par-
Branaugh helped design and layout ticipants: Randy Hayes and Carol
the study on our website. Haru Misseldine bear special mention for
Komuro and Nancy Juliber marketed their lively brainstorming sessions
and produced, both on the web and and support.
in video. Anthony DOnofrio, helped Thanks to those who, over the
develop graphics. Saritha Katikaneni past two years, provided great ideas
led technical production for that were incorporated into the
SustainLane, and her talented devel- SustainLane US City Rankings.
opers put their all into the digital Cheers to publisher Chris Plant,
depiction of the study. Ken Ott and the good people at New Society
Ramsay Millie helped provide pro- Publishers and their inspirational,
duction assistance for the final devoted and professional staff, par-
manuscript. Abendigo Reebs was an ticularly Ingrid Witvoet, Managing
inspired online marketer in the blo- Editor.
gosphere and beyond, as was the And most of all, thanks to my
Rosen Group in their tireless promo- wife, Diana Donlon. Her tolerance
tional efforts thanks Margaret of the long hours that produced
Bensfield. this work is surpassed only by
To Kai-Hua Cheng and Ken Ott the helpful editing and creative
for their ability to capture the contributions she made over two
beauty in the cities around us years of study and manuscript
through the street poetry of urban preparation.
photography. Also, we appreciate
designer Bree Sanchez, who pitched Warren Karlenzig
in at a late and crucial moment dur- San Francisco, December 6, 2006
ing production.
Our peer reviewers Sissel
Waage, PhD, and Tom Paper, MBA,


By Paul Hawken

symptoms to the cutting out of the

F or most of the 19th and 20th cen-
tury cities, despite the hardships
and suffering experienced in ghet-
cancer. The operation will demand
many apparently brutal and heart-
tos, were seen as places where less decisions. The pain may be
culture and intelligence concen- intense. But the disease is so far
trated and evolved. In the latter part advanced that only with radical sur-
of the 20th century, urban decay, gery does the patient have a chance
environmental problems, and ethnic of survival.
riots created a rush for the exits and Ehrlich predicted England
rampant urban sprawl. Cities would cease to exist by the end of
became more dangerous and inhu- the 20th century and India would
man. Post-war modernist planners have collapsed while mass starva-
and architects made matters worse tion swept the globe. It seemed that
by creating concrete monuments to by the 1970s, no one had anything
themselves, hollowing out down- kind to say about cities. Then,
towns into commercial centers that something happened that no one
felt like mausoleums at night. predicted.
Nevertheless, cities grew expo- Birthrates steadily declined and
nentially, another negative because are still declining. In the developed
of environmental impacts. When world, they average 1.6 children per
Paul Ehrlich published The woman. In the developing world,
Population Bomb in 1968 he wrote the rate is 3 per woman. In coun-
that: tries such as Japan, authorities even
A cancer is an uncontrolled ask women to have more children.
multiplication of cells; the popula- Given existing trends, population
tion explosion is an uncontrolled will peak sometime at or before the
multiplication of people. Treating middle of the 21st century, and then
only the symptoms of cancer may will begin to draw down for
make the victim more comfortable decades, possibly leveling out at two
at first, but eventually he dies billion late in the next century.
often horribly. . . . We must shift One of the main reasons popu-
our efforts from treatment of the lation rates continue to drop is

Foreword | xi
because of cities. The best birth Rather than perceive the city as an
control system in the world is the ecological sink sucking up the
urban environment. Population resources of the countryside, which
planning is an individual act, but cities can do, cities can also be a
the incentive to plan a family is kind of ecological ark, places where
caused primarily by urban migra- humanity gathers while we peak in
tion. People are leaving rural areas population and develop ecological
where children are an asset, and intelligence for a new civilization.
relocating in cities where too many There is wisdom in this that is
children are a liability. In the coun- rather extraordinary. It was not pre-
try, the emphasis is on work and dicted that cities might be the best
children provide ready assistance. In strategy for our long-term survival
the city, the path to a better future and well-being. Yet that is exactly
rests in having fewer children who what is happening.
are well educated. Virtually all of The viability of the urban envi-
the increase in world population ronments, however, is not a given.
that will occur in the next forty or Population is still increasing,
fifty years will occur in urban areas. demand on resources is growing
For example, in 2004 world popula- faster than the population, and our
tion increased 76 million: 3 million climate, oceans, and ecosystems are
was in the industrialized world, perilously close to disaster. In other
whereas 73 million was in the words, while we grow we must use
developing nations. In that same less resources. We must build urban
year, the urban population increased arks that are equipped to navigate
by 64 million. the uncertainties and demands of
Two hundred years ago urban the coming decades; cities have to
population was around 3 percent, be redesigned, reimagined, and
one hundred years ago it was 14 reconsidered. The sustainable city is
percent, and by 1950, close to 30 a place that interacts with its region
percent. According to the UN, in and resources in a symbiotic way so
2030, 61 percent of people will live as to increase the quality of both
in urban areas and the rural popula- environments.
tion in 2030 will be smaller than it How Green is Your City? The
was in 1995. Every week, over one SustainLane US City Rankings is the
million people are leaving the coun- first systematic report card measur-
try and moving to the city. ing city quality of life combined
Urban migration represents a with resource impacts. For too long,
kind of collective wisdom, and how we believed that more meant better,
we configure our cities will be criti- that energy-, concrete- and automo-
cal to our survival. Regardless of the bile-intensive cities would bring us
myths about living close to the land, a better life. That tall tale is being
cities are where human beings have replaced by common sense under-
the lowest ecological footprint. It standing that what makes for a
takes less energy, wood, material, fulfilling urban existence is neigh-
and food to provide a good life for a borhoods, farmers markets, parks,
person in a city than in the country. mobility, quiet, greenery, and

xii | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
meaningful livelihoods, all of which Rio, in the kampungs of Jakarta, the
require less resources and better shammasas of Khartoum, in the
design. pueblos jovenes in Lima, and in the
Urban sustainability is not an umjundolos of Durban. In
option. It represents prudent gover- Darwinian terms, the slums and
nance and provident management squatter cities are a rapid breeding
by and for the people. A carbon- pool for human evolution. Leaders,
constrained world is upon us. While activists, and scholars will emerge
international action is required to from these places, but so too will
prevent global climatic catastrophe, demagogues, jihadists, thieves, and
cities must lead the way in creating mobs. That famous lyric Freedom
a post carbon environment where is just another word for nothing left
people can thrive. What we do in to lose may be true for seekers and
the United States and other devel- monks, but it is not true for the
oped nations can help far-away bulk of humanity. Freedoms and the
cities. Our level of consumption and rule of law are valued and honored
its attendant wastefulness has set an when people do have something to
unfortunate example the world lose. Neighborhoods work, and are
strives to emulate. Now we must set safe and livable because there is a
a different example because how we there. The greening of the
people live in India and China will worlds cities is a profound act of
have a direct affect upon our chil- social healing and justice, because
drens futures and vice versa. The sustainability addresses whether
upper stratosphere has no national people feel hope or despair, are
boundaries; nor do jet streams and secure or threatened, want to coop-
climate. By creating cities that erate or compete.
address the future bravely, bril- I believe the SustainLane
liantly, and humanely, we create methodology will be soon become
examples and possibility for all international, and none too soon.
cities everywhere. Providing and analyzing the metrics
The worldwide diaspora of for sustainability is critical to
immigrants, refugees, and peasants humanitys future. In the end, there
to urban slums is growing. The is only one ark, the earth. Cities,
World Bank has predicted that more like individuals, are passengers on
than five billion people will be this miracle we call earth. All cities
receiving less than $2 day by 2030 must work together in this green
in todays dollars. The future of the and just enterprise to ensure that
world is being cultivated in the the journey continues. I believe this
despair, anger and bleakness in the book is a critical tool in that pursuit.
chawls of Mumbai, the favelas of

Foreword | xiii
Late spring at the Yerba Buena Gardens in
San Francisco.

xiv | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Part I

xvi | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
How Green Is Your City?
The SustainLane US City Rankings

Why Green Cities? up. Prices subsided only to move up

again in 2006 to record levels
T he SustainLane US City Rankings
of the 50 largest US cities is the
nations most complete report card
because of global political events
combined with the steadily growing
on urban sustainability. The rankings demand for oil in Asia.
provide a model of how peoples Neither world politics nor global
quality of life and city economic and oil supplies are expected to be stable
management preparedness are likely in the near future. And the carbon
to fare in the face of an uncertain emission-created global warming
future. These indicators gauge, for effect on the Atlantics water tem-
instance, which cities public transit, peratures is influencing more
renewable energy, local food and stronger-than-average hurricane sea-
development approaches are more sons. So the term sustainability,
likely to either limit or intensify the officially defined as meeting the
negative economic and environmental needs of the present generation
impacts associated with fossil fuel without compromising the quality of
dependence. life for future generations, has taken
Since the first SustainLane US on new urgency.
City Rankings came out in spring The Stern Report, commissioned
2005, world events have made sus- by the British government, has con-
tainability an even more relevant firmed the economic necessity of
concept. Hurricane Katrina showed confronting global climate change at
how vulnerable city dwellers can be, every level possible. The report, writ-
and how North Americas economy ten by the former chief economist of
and way of life is largely dependent the World Bank, Nicholas Stern,
on often-unpredictable natural and forecast that, without appropriate
market forces. After Katrina and actions, the world will be faced with
Rita hit in late summer 2005, a minimum five percent annual
destroying New Orleans and Gulf oil reduction in economic growth from
processing facilities, gas prices shot weather and climate-related events.

How Green Is Your City? | 1

While global climate change future versions of the 1995 heat
damage is very likely to occur in the wave, using green rooftops and
Arctic and in developing nations, renewable energy on municipal
North American cities are by no buildings as pilot projects. Cities
means immune. The summer of across the country are recognizing
2006 saw one of the worst sustained the need to change the way they are
temperature spikes on record in built and behave to prevent such
California cities, with more then 140 disasters from reaching the range of
lives claimed in the state during a devastation wrought by Katrina. To
single heat wave. At the peak of this succeed in this effort, a combination
12-day heat wave, temperatures of managerial skills, effective policy,
climbed to all-time highs of 119 economic incentives, technical assis-
degrees in Los Angeles County and tance, and citizen input will be
115 degrees in Stockton. The states required.
power grid came close to imple-
menting rolling blackouts, with Quality of Life and
multiple of days of record energy Clean Technologies
consumption. Should power failures In addition to city energy prepared-
have been tripped during this ness and climate change policies,
statewide event, hundreds, perhaps overall rankings for this study took
thousands more, would have died. into account quality-of-life indica-
No longer can Americans be tors such as local food availability,
content that climate-related environ- tap water quality, air quality, walka-
mental catastrophes happen to other bility, park space and roadway
people. Chicago learned this lesson congestion.
during a 1995 heat wave that killed SustainLanes city rankings also
anywhere from 485 to more than track the growth of clean technologies
700 people; it now prepares for dis- and other new types of green busi-
aster with cooling centers, buddy ness. Providing both jobs and tax
systems and outreach programs to base expansion, technologies such
make sure the elderly and disabled as renewable energy, transit-oriented
are cared for when high temperature development, alternative fuels and
and humidity levels are forecast. In green building technologies con-
part because of such preparations, tribute to a regions economic
the same heat wave that wrought competitiveness. Now that record
such destruction in California killed venture capital investment and con-
far fewer people when it lumbered sumer demand are occurring, metro
eastward into Chicago and New area design and engineering con-
York City. sciousness appear to be scaling up
Chicago has become a center of into the mainstream financial realm.
research and project development
for these new climactic variations as Why Focus on or Rank Cities?
part of its Urban Heat Island study. The prosperity of cities and metro
Mayor Richard M. Daley and his areas is critical because for the first
staff have implemented long-term time in history they represent the
programs attempting to mitigate majority of the worlds population.

How Green Is Your City? | 3

They also consume 75 percent of the district manager explained how the
worlds resources. But unlike most city, which relies on deposits of
nations or even many states, cities are snow in the Cascades mountains for
sited in specific climates with distinct its year-round water supplies, was
economic qualities and geographic increasingly at risk from a steadily
features. Wind turbines, tidal energy decreasing annual snowpack.
and locally produced biofuels capi- That prompted Nickels in early
talize on geographic differences. 2005 to mobilize mayors from across
Local food system development and the nation to join the non-partisan
green building approaches also are Mayors Climate Protection
the result of regional geographies Agreement. By November 2006, 330
and climates food systems and mayors representing 53 million
architecture can be further enriched Americans had signed onto the act,
by local cultural knowledge based urging the US and state government
on the history of a place and its to meet or beat the carbon reduction
peoples experiences adapting to it. goals set by the international Kyoto
The local nature of every citys Protocol, while vowing to take local
economy is reinforced by tax bases, actions to reduce global climate
school districts, elections, sporting change.
teams, events, seasons, even the Because of such powerful urban
weather. Residents often identify cultural, economic and political influ-
first and foremost with their cities; ences, cities are the ideal geo-political
proximity to other residents and medium for sustainability-related
offices of local government mean improvements, pilot projects and
that many citizens are more directly awareness campaigns.
engaged with their city than their
state or nation. Cities vs. Metro Areas
In many cities, you can meet These rankings focus on specific
your citys mayor, or at least your cities, as opposed to metro areas, as
elected city officials, without much the basis for most comparisons
difficulty or travel. This means that because cities themselves have the
cities get feedback in near real time: ability to directly legislate and man-
when a subway line suddenly needs age change. Also, metro areas have
serious repair or when a water main a heterogeneous structure that
breaks, city management usually finds makes meaningful measurement of
out the same day. Said Mayor Greg some factors, such as tap water
Nickels of Seattle, which was ranked quality, difficult if not impossible.
#3 in SustainLanes city rankings, But more importantly, metro area
Ive worked in local government my governance is much more difficult
entire adult life. Because its a place to coordinate, besides being less
where you can make a difference: directly accountable to voter-, citi-
you can roll up your sleeves every zen- and tax-based initiatives.
day and at the end of the day see Our survey exclusively covered
the difference youve made. cities in the United States because
Nickels first became interested these presented us with data sets,
in climate change when a city water qualitative measurements and


economic systems that could be more They work hard at being involved in
easily analyzed and ranked against city policy, boards, projects and prac-
one another. While some of the tices that impact sustainability. In
greenest cities lie outside the United fact many Portlanders are even able
States Curitiba, Brazil; Bogot, to offer their definition of what
Columbia; Vancouver, Canada; and sustainability means.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands sta- Said Portlands Mayor Tom Potter:
tistically comparing cities outside Were definitely proud to be
the United States would require a recognized by SustainLane for
significant additional effort in col- all the ways Portlands citizens
lecting, analyzing, normalizing and and businesses are working
synthesizing data and information. together to create a more sus-
Since there was no such ranking tainable community. In Portland
of US cities when we started in 2004, the local governments are lead-
as researchers we wanted to take on ers for sustainability but its
a task that could be informed by really the grassroots actions
similar data sets, weights and meas- from the neighborhoods and
ures, languages and geographies. the businesses that make this a
With these resulting data rankings special place. The City is buying
we wanted to provide an impetus renewable power and conserv-
for US cities to do better by learning ing energy, and so are tens of
from one another, so that they thousands of residents. The City
would then be incented to continu- has a green building policy, but
ally raise the bar. its the builders and developers
What Makes a City #1? and buyers who actually
change the market. Its the peo-
The SustainLane US City Rankings ple who shop at the farmers
focus on the many ways in which markets, the growers who man-
city policies and practices differ age their farms sustainably, the
from one another, and how this folks who choose to bike or
affects the people living in those take the bus to work, and all
places. The #1 city, Portland, those day-to-day decisions that
Oregon, captured the top spot with are making a huge difference.
an all-around good to great perform-
ance in most every category we One Portland resident and busi-
analyzed. Ranked below average nessperson, real estate agent Kria
only in affordability and natural dis- Lacher, decided to take matters into
aster risk, Portland excels in clean her own hands in order to make a
technology and green building huge difference. She pushed for the
development, overall quality of life, city to adopt a multiple-listing service
and in sustainability planning and (MLS) that would list green building
management. features such as energy saving
How did Portland get the top appliances, renewable energy sys-
spot? People in the city collectively tems, and energy-saving design and
identify with having a high quality materials. After more than 18
of life more than those in most cities. months of speaking out at meetings

How Green Is Your City? | 5

Green Cities: Large cities, relatively new in the and factories began to close, the
past 200 years with a few excep- compounded effect led to decay
A Brief tions, were advanced considerably in the core of once-great popula-
History with large-scale drinking water, tion centers. A few US cities
sewage and sanitary systems in continue to lose population at a
the United States during the late steady rate.
1800s. Meanwhile, public parks During the early 1960s, air
and open spaces were imple- pollution, once a problem prima-
mented from New York City and rily in industrial city centers, was
Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky now ubiquitous within urban and
thanks to visionaries such as suburban areas. Los Angeles,
Daniel Burnham and Frederick Chicago, Denver, even Portland,
Laws Olmstead setting the Oregon were regularly besieged
stage for a grand urban cultural by brown layers of air pollution
epoch during the first half of the known as smog. Around the time
twentieth century. the first man walked on the
The end of World War II moon, Clevelands chemically
brought returning veterans look- laden Cuyahoga River began to
ing for affordable housing. In the repeatedly catch fire; Americans
United States. They were met were made aware, for the first
with government mortgage sub- time, that their very atmosphere
sidies offering easy-terms was at risk.
housing loans, and the result was
explosive suburban growth. At the Reversing the Damage
outskirts of US cities and in new The administration of President
locations throughout the temper- Richard Nixon and Congress took
ate Sun Belt, a new federal the most comprehensive steps
Interstate system, com-bined addressing the situation and cre-
with a rise in automobile owner- ated in 1970 a new federal
ship, gave way to a novel way of oversight body, the Environmental
life called Suburbia. People of all Protection Agency (EPA). Given
classes, except the lowest an agency to enforce what are
classes, could have their private now called The Clean Water Act
patch of yard, a decent job, and of 1972 and the Clean Air Act,
an easy way to get to and fro. cities began to experience
Many older industrial cities, cleaner skies and slowly improv-
including Chicago, Detroit, St. ing lake, river and beach water
Louis, Cleveland and Philadelphia, quality.
began to experience a steady But the urban renaissance
exodus of inhabitants to the that was to come in the 1990s
greener suburban pastures, was still decades away. Well into
beginning in the 1950s. When the 1980s, blighted areas
jobs began to move overseas remained in some cities.


Canopies of neighborhood trees progress could be measured and
that once covered eastern cities prioritized locally. Seattle began
died from disease or old age, an indicators program using its
and were not replaced. watersheds salmon populations
In 1987 the nation was as the litmus test of the citys
equally captivated and disgusted ecosystem health.
by a barge laden with garbage San Francisco, based partially
and medical waste that first sailed on the actions of Austin,
from New York, then foundered Jacksonville and Seattle, developed
off the Eastern Seaboard and the a citizen-led sustainability plan in
Gulf Coast. The Garbage Barge, 1995-1996. The resulting detailed
as the nation called it, was blueprint was adopted in 1997 by
turned away repeatedly by port the citys Board of Supervisors,
towns that refused to take on its forming the basis for a new
unsavory cargo. Each refusal led Environmental Department and
to not only greater infamy for the providing a way to measure and
craft, but also a growing realiza- manage projects ranging from
tion that landfill space was a large-scale public solar energy
finite resource and that, ultimately installations to programs for
there is no away. integrated pest management
The startling discovery of an throughout the citys parks.
ozone hole in the earths atmos- Throughout the nation, city
pheric layer near Antarctica in residents began to do their part
1986 preceded the slow realiza- on a daily basis by commuting
tion over the next decade that by bicycle, recycling on a signifi-
even more potentially cata- cant scale, and making their
strophic global climate change homes more energy efficient.
was occurring, fueled by mans Businesses began responding
rapidly increasing carbon emis- with products and services in
sions into the atmosphere. green building, water filtration,
energy and water efficiency.
Dawn of the Based on the rapid reappearance
Green City Era of farmers markets in cities, resi-
A few cities began to address dents began to strengthen the
environmental concerns of their economies outside their immedi-
own volition. Austin, Texas imple- ate borders, forming stronger
mented one of the first urban-rural linkages first with
large-scale green building pro- food producers and, more recently,
grams, designed to reduce with agricultural fuel products.
energy and water consumption. These actions began to shorten
A citizens group in Jacksonville, food miles while making a move
Florida initiated a quality-of-life toward resource localization.
indicators program so that

How Green Is Your City? | 7

at taking on an entire industry, she cities are making progress toward
succeeded in getting the city to be sustainability and which ones have
the first to move to a green MLS for a long way to go.
new and existing homes. The change By no means can these rankings
will become effective in 2007, and be construed as a list of the 50
now other cities are studying greenest cities. Again, they are the
Portlands model so they can make 50 largest US cities in population
a similar change in their city. ranked according to our criteria cat-
Like many who work to green egories, then ranked overall by
cities, there is precious little oppor- rolling up those separate category
tunity to celebrate victories when so rankings into a single overall score.
many challenges lie ahead. Im just Of course, there are data that
getting started, Lacher said. The were not included that might have
next opportunity is to convince told a more complete story: per
Only through banks to make loans that take into capita use of water; per capita use
scaling up personal account life-cycle cost savings for of energy; and per capita production
networks can cities homeowners that result directly of waste, to name just a few. But
from these green building features. since these figures were not readily
begin to effectively Portland has begun using its available in existing data or through
improve their sustainability ethos as an overall the officials to whom we had
performance. edge to attract businesses, residents, access, we did not include these
tourists and conventions. Its city potentially important measures.
slogan, Its Not Easy Being Green, Instead we analyzed what reliable
reflects a marketing savvy that gives information to which we did have
the city national currency as one of access, such as tap water quality
the capitals of a powerful emerging and water importation, renewable
domestic economic and cultural force. energy use, and total solid waste
Other cities are involved in diverted from landfills.
leading the way as well: Chicago in
renewable energy and urban greening; Next Step: Best Practices
Boston, Minneapolis and Oakland in Knowledge Base
local food development; Denver in Each of the 50 cities analyzed in
citywide transit-oriented develop- this ranking has a dedicated page
ment; and Atlanta in green building. with a summary of its progress in
Keep in mind that these overall sustainability programs, practices
rankings are based on relativity as and performance. Our hope is that
measured within different categories residents will learn from this view
among the 50 cities studied and sur- of their home city, while those in
veyed. Portland is not an entirely other cities not ranked here have a
sustainable city; nor is Columbus template that can be applied to their
ranked #50 overall an entirely own citys analysis.
unsustainable city. Based on the cri- If you are an official from any
teria we measured more than US or Canadian State, province, city
2,000 data or information points or county, please register and sub-
were collected overall we are mit a best practice in sustainability
confident this ranking reflects which or environmental management to


the SustainLane Government best Only through scaling up per-
practices knowledge base: sonal networks can cities begin to
www.sustainlane.us. If you are a cit- effectively improve their perform-
izen, please contact your local ance. A learning structure and
government officials to let them know corresponding open-source
about SustainLane Governments information sharing mechanism
free best-practice knowledge base. can more successfully address such
By contributing your commu- critical issues of the day: global
nitys innovations in sustainability climate change, childhood obesity,
to SustainLane Governments food and energy security, economic Map of the United States
unique knowledge base, your local competitiveness and improving the with overlay of top 50 cities
ideas can be shared and possibly lives of urban dwellers and their by population. Color coded
adopted by regional and local gov- planet. by sustainability progress as
ernment across the world. of 2006.

How Green Is Your City? | 9

10 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
How We Did It The Methodology
publicly available sources published
S ustainability approaches tend to
address combined environmental,
economic and social issues, while
in the period between 2002-2006.

environmental management Overall Rankings

approaches have tended to focus on Overall rankings were determined
issues like pollution or habitat by averaging 15 individual category
restoration in isolation. The begin- rankings, each of which was multi-
ning of the 21st century represents a plied by a weighting of 0.5, 1, or 1.5
turning point for cities as sustain- (see Weighting of Data for
ability subsumes environmental details). The resulting cumulative
management practices and policies. totals ranged from 85.08 out of 100
Sustainability is a more appropriate for the highest-scoring city
approach for urban areas than (Portland, Oregon) to 32.50 out of
traditional environmental manage- 100 for the lowest-scoring city
ment because it recognizes that (Columbus, Ohio).
people and institutions are the pri-
mary actors that create and benefit Criteria for Selecting Cities
from change, with benefits also for the Study
accruing to natural systems and the The largest 50 US cities by population
economy as a result particularly (based on 2004 US Census data)
in the mitigation of global climate were selected as the basis for the
change. study. Data and information was
collected as it related to the 50 cities
Methodology proper, with three exceptions. Metro
How Green is Your City? was devel- area data collected included regional
oped using a combination of public transit ridership, roadway
primary and secondary research congestion and metro area sprawl,
directed by SustainLane. The 50 as these have a great impact on city
largest US cities were included in air pollution, resource use and
the study. Data and information on transportation efficiency. Air quality
these cities are drawn from surveys data was analyzed on a countywide
and interviews from 2005-2006, and basis, by which it is collected and

How We Did It The Methodology | 11

reported to the Environmental survey. For the cities that did not
Protection Agency (EPA). respond to the survey, rankings
were determined exclusively by data
How Data or Information from public and non-governmental
Categories were Chosen data sources.
There are two criteria for how data Data was adjusted on a per
was selected: capita basis for local food and agri-
culture (farmers markets and
a) Data or information sets that community gardens), as well as for
would be of relatively equal green (Leadership in Energy and
importance to cities across the Environmental Design) buildings.
United States. For example, water In total, over 100 respondents
conservation programs were not were surveyed by email or telephone,
included because they would be or interviewed in person. A list of
much more important for a desert these people and their city or orga-
city in the Southwest than for a nizational affiliations is included at
city with a plentiful water sup- the end of this methodology.
ply. Cities with exceptional
water conservation programs or
Weighting of Data
policies in drier climates were Of the 15 data categories, 11
credited, however, under the received a weighting of 1. The
City Innovation category. remaining four categories were
weighted as follows:
b) Ease of standardized data collec-
tion. Air quality data, for Commute to work: 1.5
instance, is available in a stan- Weighting was assigned a higher
dardized format freely available value than all other categories
(Median Air Quality Index) from because of the direct and indirect
the US EPA. impacts on numerous other cate-
gories, including air quality, water
2006 Data Collection and quality from surface run-off, green-
Research Methods house gas emission contribution to
Primary research consisted of email global climate change, road conges-
and phone surveys administered to tion, economic efficiency
the 50 subject cities during the (expenditures for gasoline leave the
period between December 2005 and local economy; roadway congestion
April 2006. Those surveyed included impairs personal and local productiv-
environmental or sustainability ity; air pollution can have numerous
departments, energy offices, depart- health-related economic impacts).
ments of solid waste, water
departments, mayors offices, and Congestion: 0.5
planning departments. Non- Weighting was assigned a lower
governmental organizations (NGOs) value based on secondary nature of
working directly with subject cities impacts which include reduced fuel
were also surveyed or interviewed. efficiency and impaired public trans-
A total of 37 cities responded to the portation efficiency for buses.

12 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Affordability: 0.5 Quality Index, combined with US
Weighting was assigned a lower value EPA Clean Air Act Non-Attainment
based on secondary impacts higher information, converted to a numeri-
housing prices hurt the environment cal scale).
because they force more residents or
service workers to commute.
NGO and Public Information
NGO and public data sources were
Natural disaster risk: 0.5 combined in each category to pro-
Weighting was assigned a lower vide ranking metric by issue, listed
value because information modeled in italics.
reflects natural disaster risk only,
which depends on climatic probabil- Tap water quality
ity, insurance information based on Environmental Working Groups
past history, etc. December 2005 US city drinking
water database was used.
Public Data Sources
Public data from the most current
LEED building
sources were combined in each cat- Number of US Green Building
egory to provide ranking metric by Councils Leadership in Energy and
issue, listed in italics. Environmental Design (LEED) certi-
fied and registered buildings from US
Commute to work Green Building Council, adjusted per
2004 US Census/American Fact Finder capita. A greater weighting was given
commute-to-work information to data for LEED Certified over LEED
(released in 2004): City resident public Registered buildings, and for LEED
transportation ridership percentage, Platinum or LEED Gold buildings,
walk to work percentage, bike-to-work over LEED Silver or LEED Certified.
percentage; carpool-to-work percent-
age, drive-alone-to-work percentage. Local food & agriculture
Number of community gardens per
Regional Transportation city, and number of farmers mar-
Data from Texas Transportation kets on a per-capita basis, with
Institutes 2003 National Mobility additional credit given to those
Study (Texas A&M) analyzing regional farmers markets accepting Women,
general public transit ridership and Infants & Children (WIC) federal
square miles per metro area. program vouchers and Food Stamp
vouchers. This data came from both
Congestion NGOs and the US Department of
Data from 2003 Texas Urban Mobility Agriculture, as well as from cities
Study analyzing regional freeway and themselves. Cities and/or NGOs pro-
surface road congestion by metro vided the number of community
region. gardens per city.

Air quality Planning/land use

US EPA air quality data and infor- Urban sprawl data from Smart
mation is from fall 2005 (Median Air Growth Americas December 2002

How We Did It The Methodology | 13

study was used. Percent of city land City innovation
area devoted to parks came from SustainLane primary research ana-
Trust for Public Land (2002 study) lyzed Environmentally Preferable
and from 2006 SustainLane primary Purchasing programs; commercial
research. and residential green building incen-
tives; carpooling coordination; car
Housing Affordability
sharing programs (public or pri-
Measure of median housing vate); and provided extra credit for
ranking was used, median income other city innovation (general
was also analyzed as a mitigating category).
affordability factor. Cities with
Living Wage ordinances were given Knowledge base/
extra credit. communications
SustainLane primary research ana-
Natural disaster risk lyzed whether cities have a
Data from Risk Management sustainability plan; a department to
Solutions 1999 Catastrophic Risk manage environmental/sustainability
in the United States and functions; and research partnerships
SustainLane primary research: with federal laboratories and/or non-
cumulative measure of hurricane governmental organizations. These
risk, major flood risk, tornado super management functions and collabora-
outbreaks, earthquake risk and dev- tions are critical to ensuring
astating hail risk. long-lasting sustainability program
metrics and success.
Green economy
Categories credited included City and Other Resources for
whether the city has a clean tech- Primary Research
nology incubator; whether the city
Albuquerque, New Mexico
or a private organization has a
green business directory; and the Martin Chavez, Mayor
average number of farmers markets Alfredo Santistevan, Environmental
per capita, and LEED buildings per Health Department
capita data. Mary Lou Leonard, Environmental
Health Department
Exclusive Primary John OConnell, Environmental
Research Categories Health Department
Energy Deborah Nason, Outreach Specialist
SustainLane primary research ana- Arlington, Texas
lyzed city greenhouse gas reduction Robert Cluck, Mayor
tracking; goals and inventories; Robert Ressl, Environmental Services
overall renewable energy use per-
centage for each city; and Baltimore, Maryland
alternative fuel fleet data (credit George L. Winfield, Department of
given for cities with 12 percent or Public Works
more of fleet comprised of alterna- Stuart Duncan, Department of
tive fuel-using vehicles). Public Works

14 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Boston, Massachusetts Ken Nerland, Administration
Bryan Glascock, Department of the Division
Honolulu CDP, Hawaii
Charlotte, North Carolina Eric Takamura, Director,
Pat McCrory, Mayor Environmental Services
Cary Saul, Director, Tim Houghton, Department
Land Use and Environmental of Environmental Services
Houston, Texas
Chicago, Illinois Karl Pepple, Environmental
Sadhu Johnston, Environmental Programming
Sarah Beazley, Natural Resources Indianapolis, Indiana
and Water Quality Bart Peterson, Mayor
April Sellers, Deputy Chief of Staff
Colorado Springs, Colorado Sarah Besser, Purdue Extension
William Healy, Department of Urban Gardens
Planning and Community
Development Kansas City, Missouri
Kay W. Barnes, Mayor
Dallas, Texas Bryan Gadow, Office of the
Karen Rayzer, Director, City Manager
Environmental Department
Laura Fiffick, Office of Las Vegas, Nevada
Environmental Quality Tom Perrigo, Department of
Planning and Development
Denver, Colorado
John Hickenlooper, Mayor Long Beach, California
Peter Park, Director of Planning Beverly ONeill, Mayor
Beth Conover, Sustainability Director Suzanne Frick, Director of Planning
Lydia Riegle, Mayors Office and Building
Larry Rich, Department of Planning
Detroit, Michigan and Building
Vincent Nathan, Environmental Kerry Rasmussen, Environmental
Affairs Department Services Bureau
John Seevers, Department of Public
El Paso, Texas Works
Daphne Richards, County Extension Chris Garner, Long Beach Gas and
Agent-Horticulture Texas Oil
Cooperative Extension Mike Conway, Department of
Community Development
Fresno, California
Terri Saldivar, Public Affairs Office Los Angeles, California
Christie Kelly, Administration Karin Christie, Environmental
Division Director

How We Did It The Methodology | 15

Keylaundra McClelland, Brooke A. Levin, Mayors Office of
Environmental Affairs Department Sustainability
Jonelyn Weed, Mayors Office of
Louisville-Jefferson County, Sustainability
Kentucky Serena Unger, Univ. of California at
Jerry Abramson, Mayor Berkeley
Joan Riehm, Deputy Mayor Heather Wooten, Univ. of California
Cass Harris, Office of the Mayor at Berkeley
Donna Browne, Jefferson County
Cooperative Extension Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Jason Cissell, Public Information Mick Cornett, Mayor
Officer, Metro Parks Kim Cooper, Planning
Mike McClure
Memphis, Tennessee
Jacob Flowers, Midsouth Peace Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Justice Center John Haak, City Planning
Milwaukee, Wisconsin David Adler, The Food Trust
Jeffrey Mantes, Department of Eileen Gallagher, Pennsylvania
Public Works Horticultural Society
Rhonda Kelsey, Green Team Liaison Terry Mushovic, Neighborhood
Gardens Association/A
Minneapolis, Minnesota Philadelphia Land Trust
Lori Olson, Environmental Robert Allen, Deputy Managing
Management and Safety Director
Leanne T. Krueger-Braneky,
New Orleans, Louisiana Sustainable Business Network
Wynecta Fisher, Environmental of Greater Philadelphia
Affairs John Hadalski, Management
New York, New York
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor Phoenix, Arizona
Robert Kulikowski, Phil Gordon, Mayor
Environmental Coordination Karen ORegan, Environmental
Office Programs
Lys McLaughlin, Former Executive Lucy Bradley, Phoenix Cooperative
Director, New York Council on the Extension
Environment Cindy Gentry, Community Food
Oakland, California
Randy Hayes, Former Director, Portland, Oregon
Mayors Office of Sustainability Tom Potter, Mayor
Carol Misseldine, Director, Matt Emlen, Office of Sustainable
Mayors Office of Sustainability Development
Scott Wentworth, Mayors Office of Stephanie Swanson,
Sustainability Communications

16 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Sacramento, California Tulsa, Oklahoma
Heather Fargo, Mayor Clayton Edwards, Environmental
Sue OBrien, Chief of Staff Operations
Lezley Buford, Environmental
Planning Services Washington, DC
Elizabeth Berry, Acting Director,
San Antonio, Texas Department of Environment
Dan Cardenas, Environmental
Services Other Resources
David Newman, Environmental Scot Case, Former Director of
Manager Procurement Strategies,
Center for New American Dream
San Diego, California Panama Bartholomy, California
Linda Pratt, Office of Environmental Energy Commission
Protection and Sustainability Teresa Parsley, Assistant Secretary,
California EPA
San Francisco, California Drew Bohan, former Deputy
Gavin Newsom, Mayor Secretary, Governors Office,
David Assmann, Office of California/California EPA
Sustainability Dan Burgoyne, State of California
Josh Hart, Former Program Director,
San Jose, California San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Michael Foster, Green Building Diana Donlon, Independent
Program Consultant, Food Systems
John Stufflebean, Environmental Daniel Imhoff, Author
Services Department Eileen Brady, Former VP, Ecotrust
Peter Harnik, Director,
Seattle, Washington Center for Park Excellence, Trust
Greg Nickels, Mayor for Public Land
Steve Nicholas, Office of
Sustainability and Environment
Mark Brady, Puget Sound Clean
Cities Coalition

Tucson, Arizona
Robert Walkup, Mayor
Leslie Liberti, Environmental
David Modeer, Tucson Water Director

How We Did It The Methodology | 17

18 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Part II
20 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Portland, Oregon
A Role Model for the Nation

C ut out of the forest, Portland

offers plenty of parks and bike
lanes as well as stunning views of
Mt. Hood. Locally owned cafs,
restaurants and markets are inte-
grated into most neighborhoods,
encouraging people to walk rather
than drive. Air and water quality are
among the best in our study. Public
transportation, including free transit
downtown, is excellent, and mixed-
use development in downtowns
Pearl District is an urban model for
cities across the nation.
In fact, the Portland Visitors
Associations official slogan, Its Not
Easy Being Green reflects Portlands
commitment to creating a healthy,
sustainable city. Its no wonder other clean breezes that blast down the
cities look to Portland for leadership Columbia River Gorge from the
and inspiration. In 1993, it was the Pacific, Portlanders themselves
first US city to attempt to reduce deserve credit for working hard to
greenhouse gas emissions, and its preserve the natural environment
#1 ranking in city innovation, theyre blessed with.
energy/climate change policy and A local citizens movement
knowledge base/communications called City Repair is emblematic of
reflects a deep-seated understanding Portlands approach to greening the
of sustainability management prac- city. This organization works in
tices. Citizens and politicians have local neighborhoods convening peo-
worked together to keep the citys ple to collectively plan
pristine environment in synch with improvements for intersections and
its emerging clean tech economy. other public areas using art, veg-
And while Portland residents etable plantings, information kiosks
luck out by having plentiful fresh and bus shelters beautifully built
water from nearby Mt. Hood and from recycled material.

Portland, OR | 21
It all starts with connecting Healthy Living
people and getting them working Portland ranks #9 in percent of land
together, says Katrina Zavalney, who devoted to parks, which make up 15
has worked with City Repair since percent of the citys total footprint.
1999. Once people start connecting You can run, hike or cycle in 5,000-
and working together, relationships acre Forest Park, one of the nations
build and thats when the solution largest urban forest areas some-
Free streetcar serving will come. In true permaculture times without bumping into another
Portlands downtown Pearl fashion there has to be time to soul. Forest Park and other regional
District, which is a leading understand the problem and then parks also help protect the areas
case study for successful bring things together to solve the tap water, which rates #2 in the
urban redevelopment. issue. study. The air is relatively clean, too

22 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
(ranking #2), with no violations of to developing 100 percent renewable
the Clean Air Act standards in any energy for city buildings by 2010,
category. and is currently in negotiations for
Portland is also at the forefront 51 megawatts of wind energy, to be
of local food movements. The city generated in eastern Oregon.
government formed a food advisory In mid-2006, Portland passed an
council, and Mayor Tom Potter has ambitious ordinance mandating that
urged citizens to buy at least 10 per- the citys gas stations provide 2.5
cent of their food from local percent biodiesel fuel out of all
sources. The city has 13 farmers diesel fuel sold by 2007, and 5 per-
market locations and an amazing cent biodiesel fuel by 2010. Ty
diversity of fruit, berries, vegetables Kovatch, chief of staff for city coun- Downtown Portland Bicycle
and nursery plants grown locally. cil member Randy Leonard, who Map.

Getting Around
Along with Oakland and
Philadelphia, Portland is one of the
few cities in our study in which
public ridership of mass transit has
been increasing. Downtowns Fareless
Square area helps make that easier,
though where Portland has really
excelled is in its regional coordina-
tion of city light rail and buses with
outlying cities and the Portland
International Airport.
Portland is a great place if youd
rather ride your bike. More than
10,000 Portlanders commute by bike,
taking advantage of more than 700
miles of bicycle paths around the
city. Portland led the largest 50 US
cities in our study with a 2.8 percent
bicycle commute-to-work rate.

Economic Factors
Portlands devotion to green build-

ing is known throughout the country.

With 16 certified LEED buildings and
86 registered as of 2006, Portland has
the most LEED buildings of any city.

A $2.5 million fund for green build-


ing incentives in the commercial

and residential markets suggests the
city will continue its leadership in
this area. The city is also committed

Portland, OR | 23
sponsored the legislation, said, The 2007 will be rolling out the nations
opportunity is for Portland to first green multiple-listing service
become the center of a legitimate for the residential real estate market,
alternative to the oil industry. We with the system accommodating the
can even export it to China. detailing of green energy, materials
Said Mayor Tom Potter: and rating systems for prospective
We want to become less buyers of new and existing homes.
dependent on foreign oil. We Portland is using its leadership
are converting our diesel fleet to attract sustainability-oriented
to biodiesel so they can get business gatherings as well as eco-
around with less diesel from tourists. Plenty of local businesses
other countries. Thats eco- are in on the act, from restaurants
nomic development; more offering organic, local ingredients; to
money stays in the economy the Green Meeting Industry Council;
instead of going out of the to stores selling environmental build-
country. In petroleum dollars, ing supplies. One highlight is the
Oregon loses about $4 billion a Pearl District, a walkable mixed-use
year. Thats significant. If we neighborhood that combines local
can reinvest $4 billion into the businesses with renovated historic
economy, think about what that buildings such as the Jean Vollum
would do for our economy, or Natural Capital Center. The center
any states economy. boasts a green roof, LEED certifica-
tion and nonprofit tenants restoring
Portland neighborhood Thanks to the work of local real salmon habitat as well as for-profits
residents working together on estate agent Kria Lacher and like Patagonia and Hot Lips Pizza,
City Repair. Meadows Group Realtors, Portland in which uses local, sustainable ingre-
dients for pizzas delivered by bicycle.

Summary/Next Steps
With the momentum its created
around sustainable living, Portland
is likely to continue to innovate. Its
Office of Sustainable Development,
unparalleled as a city management

and communications office, is cur-

rently working with the Portland
Development Commission to foster
sustainable business practices
throughout the city and expand the
sustainable industries sector of the
regional economy. There are few

other medium-sized or large US


cities that can match Portland in

providing a sense of what the future
can look like if citizens, businesses
and public officials collaborate.

24 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
San Francisco, California
Still a Shining Example

L ong admired for its innovative

sustainability efforts, San
Francisco has had particular success
in the development of solar energy,
recycling and large-scale composting,
integrated pest management, bike
transportation, green buildings, and
local food systems.
Now that the citys sustainabil-
ity plan is almost a decade old, new
challenges are evident. Housing
affordability (#49 out of the 50
cities) has become the most press-
ing issue. Since the dot-com boom
drove up prices during the late
1990s, many lower-income and mid-
dle-class residents have been priced
out of the housing market, and
prices have not yet stabilized. Many for turning ambitious sustainability
Bay Area workers are forced by high plans into reality.
home prices and rents to drive in
from locations as far-flung as the Healthy Living
Sierra Nevada foothills, three hours If it werent for Portland, San
away. Francisco would clean up in this
The citys strong public trans- category. With clean air (#3), rela-
portation system has been slowly tively good water (#4), a year-round
losing ridership. Traffic is getting local food system (#12) thats hooked
bad again, with congestion ranking into markets and restaurants show-
#47 on a metro area basis. Finally, casing local food, and the highest
San Franciscos earthquake risk percentage (20%) of parkland among
poses a threat to the citys trans- all 50 cities, its a healthy place to
portation system as well as to its live. These qualities have been fac-
power and water supplies. tored into the value of every
Despite such challenges, San million-dollar two-bedroom home,
Francisco remains a standard-bearer whether or not people realize it.

San Francisco, CA | 25
Golden Gate Park, though not from 31 percent in 2000 to 29.6 per-
terribly eco-friendly, is beautiful and cent in 2004. That trend should be
always entertaining. Dubbed by reversed with the opening of the
author Mark Reisner as Borneo Third Street Light Rail Line in 2006.
mated with Virginia, the park runs Walking to work and cycling to
for three-plus non-native forested work are an everyday routine for
and flowered miles from the center many commuters. Largely because
of the city westward to its massive of the Bay Area Rapid Transit
Ocean Beach terminus. The Presidio (BART) rail system, which opened
National Park, the former military in 1972, the Bay Area also ranks #4
base founded by Spanish soldiers for regional public transit ridership.
and missionaries in 1776, is even The region is served by several
larger and it includes large-scale regional commuter ferry systems.
native plant and watershed These water transit options proved
restorations. invaluable after the 1989 Loma
Prieta Earthquake when the
Prevalent mixed-land use Getting Around Oakland Bay Bridge was closed for
promotes a neighborhood One of the best US cities for public repairs. Finally, a hard rail connects
atmosphere. Corner of Grant transit commuter use (#4), San San Francisco and San Jose, and all
Avenue and California Street. Francisco saw its ridership rate fall Silicon Valley points between.


26 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Mayor Gavin Newsom Sustainability is important not only
announced in mid-2006 a goal for for protecting citizens health and
the city to have 10 percent of all ensuring a great quality of life here
vehicle trips be made by bicycle, a in San Francisco, Newsom said,
goal that may sound unbelievable, but also for boosting the local
considering the city had 2 percent economy with jobs and services in
bicycle ridership in 2005, but one everything from clean technologies
that falls far short of some current to fresh food and green building
European city bicycle commuter products produced in California.
rates, such as more than 25 percent In renewable energy generation,
in Copenhagen. San Francisco is a leader among
North American cities. Since voters
Economic Factors passed a $100 million solar bond
In 2005, Mayor Newsom was one of measure, San Francisco has begun
the first large-city mayors in the installing large solar systems, with
nation to publicly acknowledge the about one megawatt now being gen-
importance of local food, green erated atop its convention center
buildings and other sustainability and at a city wastewater plant. Tidal A late spring morning at the
elements in the citys overall eco- power generation from the ocean Yerba Buena Gardens, one of
nomic development strategy. and San Francisco Bay, via a San Franciscos many parks.

San Francisco, CA | 27
potential $10 million pilot project, is buildings in development. Out of its
under study. 1997 citizen-devised sustainability
Clean technology business plan also came one of the countrys
development is next on the citys first municipal green building ordi-
agenda. Mayor Newsom has named nances, which now mandates LEED
a manager to head San Franciscos Silver certification for city construc-
clean tech business attraction strat- tion. If better incentives were
egy, and to work with an advisory developed for the commercial and
council. In 2005, the citys Board of residential segments, the market
Supervisors approved a payroll tax would push LEED numbers even
exemption for qualified clean tech higher.
companies doing business in San
Francisco. With the bait set, can San Summary/Next Steps
Francisco become a center of renew- San Francisco does a lot of things
able energy economic development? extraordinarily well: Its a healthy
On the rise all over town are place to live with a city government
green buildings, with San Francisco that is leading the way toward sus-
ranking #6 nationwide in green tainable alternatives in most
San Francisco residents shop buildings per capita. As of early 2006, categories. Other cities can learn a
fresh produce at the Ferry it had 10 LEED Certified buildings lot from San Franciscos model.
Building farmers' market. completed and 19 LEED Registered But like all big cities, San
Francisco still faces some tough
challenges. The high earthquake risk
demands that the city government
and San Franciscans together examine
scenarios for disruption of transit,
water supply and power on a
regional scale.
Locally distributed power
through solar or tidal systems can
provide some insurance against an
earthquake, as can continued devel-
opment of alternative transit sources
such as ferries and bicycles.
Affordable housing, however, is
San Franciscos biggest sustainabil-
ity albatross, with even
professionals currently priced out of
the market in many neighborhoods.
Development of 6,000 more infill
residential housing units near down-
town in the Mission Bay area will

provide some near-term relief, but

much more housing development
will be necessary to have any
meaningful impact.

28 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Seattle, Washington
Protecting a Promising Future

I n Seattle, landscape and climate

are more insistently part of the
culture than in many other US
cities, so its no wonder that resi-
dents tend to develop an affinity for
nature. Located between Puget
Sound and Lake Washington, with
dramatic sunsets and sweeping
views of water, its hard not to be
drawn to the outdoors.
Easily accessed sailing, skiing,
rock climbing, rafting, spelunking,
hiking and camping are a few of the
activities that make the city an out-
doors persons paradise. This
affinity for nature has been trans-
lated into leadership in sustainable
living and policy.
Seattles geographic placement operations can reduce dependency
also helps explain Mayor Greg on cars, while improving fuel effi-
Nickelss advocacy on climate pro- ciency and the use of biofuels.
tection, which grew directly out of Seattle city government, according
his concern about preserving nearby to Mayor Nickels in the report, has
glaciers and snowpack. In 2005, he reduced its carbon emissions 60 per-
was the first mayor to sign the US cent from 1990 levels.
Mayors Climate Protection Plans are afoot to increase
Agreement, which advances the bus service, build more bicycle
goals of the Kyoto Protocol. He chal- lanes, and change zoning to
lenged mayors across the country to support more pedestrian-friendly
join him, and by late 2006, 330 communities as part of the
mayors representing 53 million multifaceted plan to address global
Americans had done so. warming locally. These moves will
The city also finalized a also, not coincidentally, create a
climate action report in late 2006, healthier, more sustainable place to
detailing how citys residents and live.

Seattle, WA | 29
Healthy Living community gardens dot the urban
Seattles air quality, which ranks #7, landscape, and Seattle ranks #5
stays fresh thanks to Pacific breezes overall in local food and agriculture.
that filter through the Olympic
Mountains. Water quality ranks #16, Getting Around
with nine contaminants, three of Seattle ranks #8 in commuting and
which exceed EPA recommendations. #11 in public transportation. While
Superb local fruit, vegetables, flow- 61 percent of Seattleites drive to
ers, meat and other products can be work alone, they do have viable
found at farmers markets through- alternatives. The state of
A community garden in out Seattle; the famous Pike Place Washington is a national leader in
Seattles High Point Market has inspired other markets the use of biodiesel, which emits 78
neighborhood. across the country. About 70 percent less carbon dioxide and


30 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
fewer greenhouse gases than gaso- has one of the leading big-city green
line. (The Washington State Ferries fleets, with 46 percent of its more
system is the largest user of than 3,000 vehicles running on 20
biodiesel in the city.) percent biodiesel, electricity, hybrid
Two percent of commuters ride or low-sulfur technologies.
a bike to work, and 15 percent use
public transportation on a daily Economic Factors
basis. Though the city lacks a sub- With a strong base of technology
way, it does have an excellent bus expertise from companies like
system. Many residents commute by Microsoft and Amazon.com, and a
ferry, and a light rail between down- world-class educational institution Kayaking on Lake Union with
town and the airport is slated to in the University of Washington, the Space Needle visible in the
begin operations by 2009. The city Seattle is a major candidate to be a distance.

Seattle, WA | 31
leading city in clean technology sustainability practices into the
development and implementation. daunting remodel process.
Seattles Office of Sustainability and
the Environment has excelled in Summary/Next Steps
combining knowledge networks Seattleites in both public and pri-
with information technology. Seattle vate life share a keen awareness of
has worked with its host county, and commitment to the environ-
King County, to help pioneer ment, and the city is at the forefront
Environmentally Preferable of sustainability. That hasnt left it
Purchasing programs and with without challenges. Mixed-use zon-
Starbucks, the University of ing, roadway congestion and tap
Washington, the Seattle Technology water quality could all stand to be
Alliance and Pacific Northwest improved. Transit-oriented develop-
Laboratories to develop everything ment using clean technologies
from climate impact research to a would help address some of those
nascent clean tech cluster. challenges. The citys location
Seattle also ranks strong in makes it a good candidate for tidal
green building at #3, offering a vari- energy generation, which both New
ety of incentives to encourage both York City and San Francisco have
residential and commercial green either implemented on a pilot basis
Seattle Gas Works Park, a building. Its Green Home Remodel or extensively studied. Overall,
public park on the site of a program offers free online guides to Seattle is on the right track toward
former Seattle Gas Light green remodeling a lecture series, creating a healthy and sustainable
Company gasification plant. and free classes make it easy to add place for generations to come.


32 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Chicago, Illinois
The Wind at Its Back

C hicago notched high scores nearly

across the board: knowledge
base (#1), city innovation (#5),
energy and climate change policy
(#5), commute to work (#6), and
regional public transportation rider-
ship (#2). The city has been moving
toward a new type of urban envi-
ronment since Mayor Richard M.
Daleys administration began almost
maniacally planting trees about a
half-million since Daley took office
in 1989.
Mayor Daleys plan to make
Chicago the greenest city in
America soon blossomed into
urban roof gardens, starting with
City Hall in 2000. Throughout the
city you can find attractive rooftop Chicagos forward-looking cre-
habitats for people and wildlife. ativity extends to renewable energy,
Two and a half million square feet both solar and wind, which the city
of planted rooftops now conserve has been developing since the late
building energy, filter rainwater 1990s.
and may nudge summertime
temperatures down. Chicago has Healthy Living
become the nations living labora- Lake Michigan permeates Chicago
tory for studying the urban heat life. The lake is the place for recre-
island effect, which can raise a ation, and its within blocks of
citys temperatures 4 to 10 degrees everything from baseballs Wrigley
on a scorching summer day. Field, to Lincoln and Millennium
Lowering those temperatures by parks, down to the University of
even a degree or two would save Chicagos Hyde Park neighborhood
the city untold amounts of energy on the South Side. Even Chicagoans
while reducing air-conditioning who live miles from the lake are
costs. affected by climatic influences such

Chicago, IL | 33
Millennium Park, a redeveloped section of abandoned as lake effect snowstorms. In
industrial land, hosts one of the largest green roofs in warmer seasons, Lake Michigan is
the world. like a giant ice block, keeping
temperatures cooler on the lakefront
well into summer; conversely, dur-
ing winter, temperatures are warmer
near the water.
The extensive network of paths
along the lake pulse with thousands
of recreational runners, walkers and
bike riders during summer, and pro-
vide bike commuters with dedicated
pathways throughout the year.
Millennium Park, formerly an

abandoned industrial site, is now
one of the nations top havens for
tourists and locals alike. Anchored
by a Frank Gehry-designed band
shell and public interactive art
installations, the park also features

a giant green native plant rooftop,
CITY the nations largest, over an under-
ground garage and native plant
educational displays.
Local food from a network of
regional producers is available at 33
farmers markets and at many
restaurants and cafs. More than
400 city community gardens flour-
ish, as neighborhood educational
centers show how food, community
and art can be mutually supportive.
Chicago is more challenged
when it comes to the quality of its
air and tap water. While Lake
Michigan provides a plentiful
source, Chicago tap water ranks
below average at #29, with 17

contaminants resulting from indus-

trial agriculture, other industries
and urban runoff. Four contami-
nants are over the EPAs
recommended levels.

Pritzker Pavillion in Millennium Park was

designed by architect Frank Gehry.

34 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Air quality ranks #45, with the is underway through the Local Pritzker Pavilion in
South Side near the Calumet indus- Organic Initiative. Fresh produce is Millennium Park designed by
trial region still showing signs of becoming big business everywhere, Frank Gehry in 2004.
small and large particulate pollution
from its cluster of manufacturing,
especially during winter. Overall air
quality can be sketchy on summer
days, when smog-inducing ozone
can cover the entire city all the way
north to Wisconsin. To see how safe
it is to exercise outdoors, check out
the EPAs real-time air quality map
at www.airnow.gov.

Getting Around
The thousand-columned El, as
writer Nelson Algren called it, makes
its way through most neighborhoods
of the city and into the suburbs.
Chicago and its suburbs have one of
the highest rates of public transit
commuting in the nation (though
commuter ridership fell from 26 per-
cent in 2000 to less than 24 percent
in 2004).

Economic Factors
Chicago has set a goal of having 20
percent of its energy come from
renewable sources by 2010. With its
renewable level currently at 2.5 per-
cent, the city has a ways to go, but
it is boosting the effort with the
Chicago Center for Green
Technology, a LEED Platinum build-
ing featuring a PV solar assembly
company headquarters, and a green
building demonstration center.

The ever-expanding metro area

is surrounded in Illinois by industrial

agriculture, but a renaissance of small


producers from orchards and farms

in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan

Free bike parking at Millennium Park.

Chicago, IL | 35
from farmers markets to supermar- Chicago ranks #15 in green
kets to upscale cafs. The Chicago building, and its regional service and
area market buys $300 million in manufacturing economy is begin-
organic food each year, according to ning to reap the benefits of solar
Sustain, a Chicago-based group that power, wind energy, architecture,
encourages sustainable economic landscaping and innovative design
development and local food sourcing. technologies. Developers who con-
struct green buildings are granted
permits much more quickly than
those who dont.

Summary/Next Steps
Chicago has taken the lead in build-
ing mainstream support for
sustainability and green city pro-
grams. If it can continue on its
current path while reversing
declines in public transit and air
quality, Chicago will be one of
the worlds urban sustainability

The citys reliance on Mayor

Daley to lead the charge for being
the greenest city in the nation,
however, does put its sustainability
management programs at risk with
A Critical Mass gathering of any new mayor that may take over.
cyclists on the Daley Plaza, with But by that time, the Richard M.
Chicago City Hall in the back- Daley green legacy might be firmly
ground. entrenched.

36 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Oakland, California
Stepping out of the Shadows

F ormer mayor Jerry Brown,

whose second term ended in
2007, initiated a plan to bring 10,000
new residents into a redeveloped
city center. This tact is dramatically
increasing the downtown popula-
tion, reducing sprawl and making
public transit more efficient all
while giving the citys urban center
a dose of energy. Farmers markets,
community gardens and green
buildings further support the citys
move toward sustainability.
Oakland is one of the most eth-
nically diverse cities in the nation.
While its expensive housing (#44)
puts it out of reach for many
Americans, its more affordable than
other Bay Area cities, including San and play around Lake Merritt, a
Francisco and San Jose. 140-acre tidal estuary adjacent to
downtown, and in the other 65
Healthy Living parks and 29 regional parks cover-
Oaklands bayside location keeps its ing more than 97,000 acres in
air cleaner (#4) than that of most Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
American cities, with fresh Pacific The citys 8 farmers markets
breezes coming in through the Golden and 36 community gardens support
Gate and blowing straight at Oaklands its #9 ranking for food and agricul-
port. Temperatures are pleasantly ture.
moderated by these cool breezes. Water quality (#37) ranks below
The sun comes out more than it does average, with 18 pollutants found in
in fog-enshrouded San Francisco, the water by the Environmental
making Oakland a great setting for Protection Agency, 5 of which
outdoor recreation and fitness. exceed the agencys recommended
On weekends and evenings, limits. If you live in Oakland, its a
Oaklanders love to walk, jog, bike good idea to filter your water.

Oakland, CA | 37
Getting Around In late 2006 the city passed a
From 2000 to 2004, Oaklands pub- resolution, sponsored by coun-
lic transit commuter use has cilmember Nancy Nadel, to study
increased more than in any US city ways in which to make the city oil-
we looked at, from 17 percent to 22 free by 2020.


percent. Not only does this improve The city does face a serious
regional air quality, it also keeps earthquake risk, placing it at #48 for
money in the local economy that natural disasters, a lower ranking
would otherwise leave the nation than even at-risk neighbors San
for imported oil. Francisco and San Jose.
The combined rate for biking
and walking to work is just over 4 Summary/Next Steps
percent, which is below average for Oaklands innovations span several
most of the larger, older US cities in categories. Its plan to get 30 percent
our study. (This may reflect the of the citys food from local sources,
number of people who commute its strong public transportation
across the bay to San Francisco or infrastructure and its evolving city

into Silicon Valley for jobs.) It will center reflect a commitment to sus-
be interesting to see if the percentage tainability. As part of an alliance
improves with the continuing devel- with San Francisco, Berkeley and
opment of downtown residential other Bay Area communities to
neighborhoods. jointly get half of their energy from
renewable sources by 2017, Oakland
Economic Factors has an opportunity to participate in
In conjunction with graduate stu- a regional industry cluster that
A weekly downtown farmers dents from the University of could one day serve the entire
market provides fresh and California in neighboring Berkeley, nation.
organic food. Oakland has created a plan to Oakland has a number of
source 30 percent of its food locally. opportunities to strengthen its posi-
Oakland has demonstrated its lead- tion. An important part of Oaklands
ership in supporting the expansion vitality is its diversity, an asset it
of farmers markets, community gar- risks losing if it fails to create more
dens and school gardening affordable housing. Rising crime in
programs. low-income West Oakland is a con-
Oakland ranks #17 in green tinuing problem that affects all
building, with six registered and one elements of the citys livability.
certified green building, and derives The city has also been chal-
two megawatts of solar power and lenged to retain jobs from its
17 percent of its energy supply from manufacturing base. Light manufac-
renewable sources. This gives it a turing and/or assembly associated
higher percentage of renewable with solar and other renewable
energy than any other city analyzed energy technology as part of
in our city rankings. Oakland Oaklands regional alliance would
installed 1.1-megawatt solar arrays make an ideal match for the citys
in 2005, one of the largest municipal rail and port connections.
installations in the nation.

38 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
New York City, New York
Sustainability out of Necessity

N ew York City has many of the

qualities that make many for-
eign cities livable: Its densely
populated, with an exceptional sub-
way and rail system and a diversity
of local businesses that are most
easily accessed by foot.
In many ways, New York City is
an anomaly in the United States.
The limitations of the city its geo-
graphic boundaries and population
density, which at 25,000 per square
mile is more than six times that of
#1 Portland have forced it to be
more sustainable than most US
cities. Without an excellent public
transportation system, plenty of parks
and forward-thinking planning, its
hard to imagine so many people At any of the whopping 72 farmers
coexisting so successfully. markets throughout the 5 boroughs,
Said Mayor Michael R. food is sold by the people who
Bloomberg, Putting principles of grew, raised, foraged or caught it.
sustainable development into prac- The city also has the largest urban
tice is crucial to making sure that gardening program in the nation,
this city continues to be a place Green Thumb, which was founded
where people want to live and busi- in 1978 and now supports more
nesses want to grow in the 21st than 700 community gardens.
century. We know that our city Local food isnt the only thing
must lead by example and we are helping New Yorkers stay healthy.
working hard to make the Big The city ranks #3 for city land
Apple a green apple. devoted to parks. These parks pro-
vide an easy way to escape the citys
Healthy Living congestion. On a sunny day, youll
If youre a New Yorker, locally find throngs of people enjoying
grown food is always close at hand. lunch, talking or going for a stroll.

New York City, NY | 39

New Yorkers also benefit from pack in green building especially
excellent drinking water from the skyscrapers. The new Bank of
Catskill and Croton area watershed, America headquarters in mid-town
though we were unable to rank the Manhattan is vying for the LEED
water quality due to lack of cur- Platinum standard, and will produce
rently available data. The Catskills about half of its own energy while
are one of the largest protected capturing rainwater for toilets from
urban watersheds, and the citys a rooftop harvesting system. In fact,
water supply is known to produce the Skyscraper Museum had an
good-tasting and healthy tap water. exhibit in 2006 entitled Green
As can be expected in such a Towers for New York: From
dense urban environment, New Visionary to Vernacular. The
York Citys air isnt so good, ranking exhibit featured high-profile corpo-
#42. The city doesnt comply with rate headquarters, speculative office
Clean Air Act standards for ozone, towers, green apartment blocks and
and the air sometimes has danger- mixed-use and institutional projects.
ous levels of large and small New York also has a burgeoning
particulate matter. New Yorks grow- community of small businesses
ing green municipal fleet and media organizations, clothing
ultra-low sulfur diesel rules for designers, retail boutiques, furniture
garbage trucks, sightseeing buses, makers, dry cleaners, architecture
and city school buses should help firms dedicated to green and sus-
reduce this danger somewhat. tainable alternatives. Locals get
sustainability and are pioneering
Getting Around businesses and products to promote
The New York subway began serv- it.
New York City is ice in 1904 long before the Of course, New York is also
necessarily one of automobile age facilitating a among the least affordable cities in
the most high-density city with minimal the study, ranking #46, with hous-
sustainable cities sprawl. Less than a quarter of ing costs that are prohibitive for
Manhattan residents own a car (the many. Its also a laggard when it
in the US, because national average is 92 percent). In comes to renewable energy, though
its impossible to fact, people use as much gas in the city is working on a pilot project
put so many people New York City today as the average that uses turbines in the East River
into such a small American did in the 1920s. More to generate power from tidal energy.
than half of the population uses
space without public transportation to commute to Summary/Next Steps
reducing their work. In addition to the subway, New York City is necessarily one of
footprint on the New York has the largest green the most sustainable cities in the
earth. municipal fleet in the country, United States, because its impossi-
112,000 cyclists daily and the ble to put so many people into such
nations busiest ferry system. a small space without reducing their
footprint on the earth. People live in
Economic Factors smaller spaces, require far less
Green skyscrapers? Its true. New energy for driving, and tend to con-
York is one of the cities leading the fine themselves to local shops in

40 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
ways that have served as a model similar cross-discipline approaches
for mixed-use redevelopments for city sustainability management.
across the nation. On a number of more visible On a number of
Mayor Bloombergs appoint- fronts, New Yorkers are pioneering visible fronts,
ment of a Long-Term Planning and more sustainable living solutions. New Yorkers are
Sustainability director in mid-2006 The citys network of farmers mar-
pioneering more
was significant in that it placed a kets is impressive, its park space is
sustainability management structure enviable, and its focus on green sustainable living
across city functions into planning, building is positively inspiring. At solutions.
which stands to have greater the same time, New York faces
strategic impact than a siloed ongoing challenges, most notably air
sustainability or environmental pollution and congestion. No doubt,
department. Other cities such as given its resources and the enter-
Chicago, San Francisco and prising nature of its citizens, the city
Portland, Oregon are investigating will find a way.

Despite the bright lights, New

York City has some of the
lowest per capita energy use.

New York City, NY | 41

42 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Boston, Massachusetts
It Only Gets Better

S et on a peninsula at the conflu-

ence of the Mystic, Charles and
Chelsea rivers, Boston was a key
port city in colonial days. The com-
pact city aspires to create a future as
bright as its past by improving an
already efficient urban metabolism
built on core strengths in public
transit and planning.
Recent efforts at urban renewal
have had positive environmental
effects: A 12 percent reduction of
carbon dioxide emissions and the
addition of 320 acres of new park-
land, according to Boston.com.
Said Brian Glascock, director of
the Boston Environmental
Department on Barry Nolans
Nitebeat show, Every square foot back to the early 19th century, brings
that can be reclaimed and reused for together botanical gardens and
some beneficial purpose, like a pub- shaded river walks.
lic park, is another amenity that we Boston ranks #1 for local food
add to the city, and it certainly adds and agriculture. Community gardens
a lot of value to the properties are thriving, thanks to nonprofits like
around it. Its all part of a larger the Boston Natural Areas Network,
program to try and reclaim this which helps neighborhoods estab-
paved, impervious surface through- lish, organize and maintain gardens.
out the city. More green space Farmers markets (13 and counting)
means more living material to filter continue to sprout up around the
the air, to filter the water. city. The Food Project runs an urban
farm that teaches agriculture to
Healthy Living young people and helps feed the
Boston is a great place for parks, citys underprivileged.
ranking #5. The Emerald Necklace, Air quality ranks a slightly
a series of linked parks that dates above average #22, but water quality,

Boston, MA | 43
rated poor by the Natural In late 2006, Boston became the
Resources Defense Councils urban first major US city to change its zon-
tap water study, comes in at #40. ing laws to require that all new
buildings of more than 50,000
Getting Around square feet obtain a minimum of
In Boston, urban development is LEED certified status.
Boston is on the informed by a dense mixed-use city One of the lead agencies in
road to becoming a center served by public transit Bostons green technology push is
rather than freeway access; the city the Massachusetts Technology
more sustainable ranks #3 in terms of planning. And Collaborative, which, in addition to
city, with a city its public transit service is superb. fomenting innovation in general,
government The subway, called the T, is runs a Renewable Energy Trust.
committed to the oldest in the country, but Boston Each month, a small percentage of
keeps it current. Bus routes are power bill revenues go into the
sustainable extensive and include express runs trust, which supports green build-
practices. that use reserved highway lanes. A ing, alternative fuel research and
commuter rail moves people to and public outreach. This program and
from the outlying metro with free others like it place Boston far ahead
transfers to subways and buses of the curve in terms of renewable
inside the city. As is the norm in the energy use, with more than 8 per-
United States, commuter lines share cent of the citys energy coming
rail with freight haulers. from renewable sources.
All modes of transit go to the
airport, including the ferries that Summary/Next Steps
routinely crisscross Boston Harbor. Boston is on the road to becoming a
More transit stations are in the more sustainable city, with a city
works, and lines are being extended. government committed to sustainable
A third of all Bostonians use public practices. Based on the success of
transportation and over 8 percent programs in European cities and
walk to work, helping the city rank Chicago, the city has begun a green
#3 in commute to work. roofs program, including planning
for a green roof on city hall.
Economic Factors There are several opportunities
Boston is also one of the nations that could promote an even better
leaders in green building (#7). The quality of life for the citys residents.
Green Building Task Force provides Improvement in both air and water
cash incentives for construction and quality would make the city a
renovation projects that demonstrate healthier place to live. About half of
LEED ambitions. One such building, the city relies on heating oil, most
the John W. McCormack Post Office of which is imported and vulnerable
and Courthouse, is an Art Deco to world market forces. And Boston
colossus built during the Great has no green-house gas reduction
Depression. Its now aiming for LEED goals or tracking mechanism. Portland
certification with upcoming reno- and San Francisco could both serve
vations including an all-shrubbery as models for improvement in that
green roof. area.

44 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
City on the Move

L ook beyond Philadelphias

patchwork of abandoned manu-
facturing sites, and youll find a city
thats emerging as a solid model of
how cities can address environmen-
tal impact while maintaining vibrant
local neighborhoods and culture.
The Brooklyn effect seems to
be happening in Philadelphia. From
warehouses to old industrial sites,
artists and young families are mov-
ing back into central Philadelphia
neighborhoods. The challenge with
modern urban renewal is how to
enrich the city centers without dis-
placing longtime residents, many
who work in service industries.
Cities must remain affordable for all
in order to be truly sustainable. Terminal Market, a longtime local
Philadelphia ranks strong in food and craft market from 1892, is
many categories, including trans- one of the best ways to experience a
portation (tied for #2 in overall longtime staple of the citys African-
mobility), local food and agriculture American community. And the
(#3), and energy and climate change White Dog Cafe, featuring Judy
policy (#5). Wickess locally procured organic
food, is the cultural center for
Healthy Living urban-rural linkages statewide, with
Philadelphia is at the forefront of its breakfast talks, movies and
the urban local food renaissance. Its weekly community gatherings.
18 farmers markets, all of which The Philadelphia Green program,
accept food stamps, offer a huge sponsored by the Pennsylvania
variety of produce and fruit from Horticultural Society, helps support
the surrounding Amish and more than 20 of the citys 465 com-
Pennsylvania Dutch farms. Tasting a munity gardens in addition to
sweet potato pie from Reading leading numerous innovative

Philadelphia, PA | 45
large-scale public space greening estimated times. Philly makes the
and watershed protection initiatives. top ten for city planning, with much
Philadelphia Green aims to increase less sprawl than the average
local property values while address- American city.
ing with fresh, locally grown
produce issues like food security Economic Factors
and the more than 50 percent of the SustainLanes sustainable economic
citys children that are overweight. measures (farmers markets, green
The citys water is relatively building, clean tech incubation and
good (#17), coming from the health and green business directo-
Schuylkill River watershed. Air qual- ries) place Philadelphia at #4. In
ity ranks slightly below average at addition to the farmers markets,
#30, with moderate ozone and small Philly has an active Sustainable
particulate pollution. With about 12 Business Network with healthy and
percent of Philadelphias city land green business listings, though the
devoted to parks, green space is a city came in at #36 in LEED build-
strength (#11). Fairmount Park alone ings per capita, with only two LEED
is over 9,200 acres, or more than ten certified buildings and five regis-
times the size of New York Citys tered as of early 2006.
Central Park, and its within walking City clean technology develop-
distance for all of the citys 2.4 mil- ment partners include Kronosport,
lion residents. which makes some of the citys
electric vehicles, and Philadelphia
Getting Around University, with which the city is
Philadelphias public transportation applying for a patent for energy-
rates are among the highest in the efficient insulating walls for low-
Philadelphias nation, with 27 percent using it to income housing.
public transportation get to work. Its one of the few
rates are among the cities in our study (Portland and Summary/Next Steps
Oakland are two others) in which Philadelphias sustainability plan-
highest in the public transit rates are improving ning is in its early stages, but its
nation, with 27 in 2004 a higher percentage of peo- clearly on the right path. Citizen
percent using it to ple were using public transit than in groups, state and local government
get to work. 2000. Thanks to its robust public agencies, and academic and scien-
transportation system, tific institutions sponsored public
Philadelphias mobile energy use is sustainability forums throughout
in good shape; in a separate 2006 to get citizens ideas about
SustainLane index, it ranked as the how to move forward. The
#5 city best prepared for an oil crisis. Philadelphia Urban Sustainability
Philadelphians can also easily Forum hosts a blog focused on the
walk or ride bikes to get around, same efforts.
with 6.5 percent of people walking One big opportunity that
to work. The city also sponsors sig- Philadelphia has missed so far is
nage and walking maps prepared renewable energy. It may find
specifically for pedestrians, with inspiration by looking to Chicago,
at-a-glance figures for distances and Boston and many West Coast cities.

46 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Solid waste diversion was under
10 percent, one of the nations low-
est rates; the lack of recycling in the
city has been challenging for those
who want to but cant recycle at the
office and in public places. Single-
stream recycling, which has become
an effective approach that leading
California cities have perfected, may
be a good option for a populace that


has not yet fully participated in the
circular material economy.

(Right) Downtown Philadelphia as seen

from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

(Below) Local Philadelphia Italian market.

Small locally owned food markets in mixed-
use residential neighborhoods offer a more
sustainable and accessible alternative to
supermarkets that must be driven to.

Philadelphia, PA | 47
48 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Denver, Colorado
On the Fast Track

L ocated on the high plains at the

base of the Rocky Mountains,
Denver is geographically unique. As
the only large city within a 600-mile
area, halfway between the Midwest
and West Coast, it has become a
major center for the storage and dis-
tribution of goods and services.
Denver was one of the few
cities in the country to boom during
the oil crisis of the 1970s. At a time
when almost every citys downtown
experienced blight and white
flight, Denver was building sky-
scrapers and actually putting money
into its downtown. But when oil
prices fell, so did Denvers econ-
omy. A generation later, Denver
experienced a similar boom and of an oil crisis. He realizes that
bust with the rise and fall of the when oil prices rise, they affect not
high-tech industry, much of which only the cost of driving, but also the
was based in its surrounding sub- cost of producing and transporting
urbs. These experiences have led goods and services, and conse-
the city to pursue a more diversified quently the entire economy.
and sustainable economic future. To address these issues,
With the leadership of Mayor Hickenlooper launched the Denver
John Hickenlooper, Denver is at the Sustainable Development Initiative,
forefront of a new economy one a collaborative effort to reduce
based on sustainability. A petroleum waste; improve air and water qual-
geologist by training, he left that ity; and promote multi-modal,
industry to become a brewmaster, in transit-oriented land use, energy
part, he says, Because microbrew conservation, green building, solar
was the more profitable liquid fuel energy and reduction of greenhouse
in those days. One of his major gas emissions. The citys GreenPrint
concerns is minimizing the impact Denver program, a collaborative

Denver, CO | 49
planning effort among government, In 2004, the public passed
thought leaders, business and citizens FasTracks, a $4.7 billion ballot ini-
groups, was launched in July 2006. tiative to increase light rail,
commuter rail and bus rapid transit
Healthy Living service. It even includes a ski train
Both water quality and public park for folks to access the nearby
availability need improvement, Rockies resorts. The initiative was
though air quality receives a rela- the largest local transit funding
tively high ranking. The South measure in the history of the nation.
Platte River Water Quality Initiative Many recent articles attribute
was created to address Denvers tap the increase of commercial activity
water quality (#18) and supply. This downtown, especially retail, to light
multi-partner program provides edu- rail and other public transportation.
cation and outreach to measurably Apparently, more Denver area resi-
improve water quality in the Denver dents, employees and visitors have
watershed. The fresh mountain air poured into the urban core.
maintains high quality (#14) for a According to an article on Denver
city of this size. Though parks in light rail in Light Rail Now, wildly
Denver are conveniently located popular rail lines are drawing peo-
near downtown, shopping and ple who never considered taking the
restaurants, Denver falls in the bot- bus. The first rail lines in 2001
tom half of the study for its overall drew 43 percent more riders than
city land devoted to parks, ranking projected. As Denvers director of
#29. planning, Peter Park, noted, It is
With 8 farmers markets, easier to add light rail cars than it is
Denver residents benefit from a to widen highway lanes.
With 8 farmers good supply of locally grown food; The city has made a commit-
markets, Denver it ranks #10 for food and agriculture. ment to alternative-fueled vehicles,
residents benefit In many cities, the ability to grow which account for 31 percent of its
from a good supply ones own food, or even to see how present vehicle fleet, one of the
food is grown, is becoming a rarity. highest percentages in the nation.
of locally grown But Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) is The Mile High City has made a
food; it ranks #10 providing that opportunity for hun- commitment to have a 100 percent
for food and dreds of low- to moderate-income alternative fueled city fleet by the
agriculture. urban neighborhoods throughout end of 2007.
the city. DUG operates or supports
over 50 community gardens. Economic Factors
Through the gardens, residents sup- Mayor Hickenlooper is devoted to
plement their diet with food that incorporating sustainable measures
they raise themselves. into every aspect of Denvers emerg-
ing economy. One study examined
Getting Around the petroleum used by the city and
Denver currently ranks #22 for com- the potential impacts of oil price
muting and #19 for public spikes on the city budget. Now the
transportation, but these rankings city is looking into more ways to use
should dramatically increase soon. alternative fuel. Several pioneering

50 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
projects have been completed and Downtown Denver gathering.
others are in the pipeline.
Denver International Airport
realized unprecedented success in
2004 by becoming the first major
American airport to become ISO
14001 certified for its Environmental
Management System. Other innova-
tive projects include the anticipated
installation of solar panels on the
south-facing roof of the Colorado
Convention Center. A city proposal
went out in mid-2006 for the
nations first municipally owned
urban solar power plant to provide
power to a jail.
As a leader in sustainability,
Denver is bringing other cities
together. At the Denver Green Cities
Forum in November 2005, sustain-
ability directors from Portland,
Seattle, Salt Lake City, Oakland and
Chicago met to discuss best prac-
tices and strategies, and another
event is planned for 2007.

Summary/Next Steps
Denver has placed itself in a unique
position to lead the nation in trans-
portation-based, economically
focused sustainability approaches.
The leadership of a passionate, well-
liked mayor with a strong vision
practically guarantees that Denver
will be able to achieve its goals. Its
efforts to wean itself from automo-
tive dependence should be an
inspiration to sprawling cities that
think its too late to do anything
about their failing or almost non-
existent public transit systems.
Denver has additional opportu-
nities. Less than 1 percent of the
city energy mix uses renewable
energy. The city ranks poorly in recy-
cling, diverting less than 10 percent

Denver, CO | 51
of its solid waste from the landfill. increasing the citys local food sup-
Although green building incentives ply and widening its distribution.
are in the planning process, they But given the citys record to date,
Denver is looking beyond the have not yet been instituted. Further its clear that Denver is on the fast
sunsetting of the oil economy. attention could also be paid to track to a more sustainable future.


52 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Clean Air, Big Plans

M inneapolis charms residents

and visitors alike with its
graceful tree-lined parkways, lakes,
multiethnic restaurants, and vibrant
arts and music scene. Then theres
the winter endless days of numb
fingers, gray sludge corroding your
car and soaking your shoes, and
high energy bills. In recent years,
though, there hasnt been enough
snow to get a good cross-country ski
race going. During the winter of
2005-2006, unprecedented numbers
of ice fishers cars fell through the
ice on city lakes.
Minneapolitans are concerned
about the warming winters, and
the city is doing its part to lower
its energy impact: In 1999, Enjoying the outdoors is easier
Minneapolis became one of the first when the air is clean, as it is in
US cities to adopt sustainability Minneapolis (#5). You might want
indicators. to think twice (and install a good
carbon filter) before drinking the tap
Healthy Living water, though. The water, from the
Can you canoe? If so, the Chain of Mississippi, not only smells an awful
Lakes lets you cruise through chan- lot like chlorine, but when last tested
nels to several city lakes, which are contained 21 contaminants, 5 of
also popular swimming holes. All which were over the EPA limit (#38).
year round, people throng Plants and gardens thrive in the
Minneapoliss parks. Cyclists and in- city. Minneapolis has 100 commu-
line skaters have over 80 miles of nity gardens and counting. These
trails to choose from, and in the gardens arent just a fun hobby.
winter, the parks are favorite spots According to Lori Olson of the citys
for sliding, cross-country skiing, and Environmental Department, The
ice skating. Youth Farm and Market Project . . .

Minneapolis, MN | 53
plays an important role in nurturing healthier people, they benefit the
relationships between urban youth local economy as well. In 2006, the
and the earth around them by let- city opened the Midtown Global
ting them grow, cook, eat and sell Market to promote ethnically diverse
healthy food. All but one of food and discourage shopping at
Minneapoliss farmers markets big box stores, featuring more
accept WIC vouchers, enabling more than 50 local, independent vendors.
residents to enjoy the bounty of this Speaking of big boxes,
rich farming region. Minneapolis invented the mall, and
the countrys largest, the Mall of
Getting Around America, is the most widely visited
With an impressive network of bicy- landmark in the Twin Cities area.
cle commuter trails, Minneapolis However, many residents are fed up
Minneapolis has ranks #2 in bike commuting, with with driving through congested
bold plans to 2.3 percent pedaling to work. The streets to spend their dollars at
reduce greenhouse city ranks #18 in overall public chain stores that sap dollars from
gas emissions, transportation use and healthy com- the local economy. A few communi-
muting (carpooling, biking and ties, including the Linden Hills
increase walking). That might sound like a neighborhood, have organized cam-
renewable energy good showing, but fewer people paigns to support local businesses.
use and reduce walked or cycled to work in 2004 The city as a whole provides links
homelessness. (3%) than in 2000 (7%). to green businesses through the
Likewise, more people drove Twin Cities Green Guide.
alone to work in 2004 (65%) than Minneapolis leads the Midwest
in 2000 (62%). Countering this in green energy, with 4 percent of
trend is a light rail system launched its total energy coming from renew-
in 2005. Ridership has far exceeded ables. Wind is a growing industry,
expectations and should help get along with solar and biomass. By
increasing numbers of commuters 2008, the city pledges to increase its
out of their cars, which will in turn renewable energy use to 10 percent.
help reduce energy consumption. The city lags behind others in green
Minneapolis is one of 17 busi- building to date, it has no LEED
ness districts in the country to earn certified buildings, although some
the EPAs Best Workplaces for public buildings conform to less
Commuters seal for providing car- stringent state green building guide-
pool coordination and transit lines.
subsidies to employers. Residents Minneapolis also offers a few
can also participate in local carshare green building incentives, including
programs. Minneapolis could further incentives for green roofs and walls,
benefit by greening its fleet of city a density bonus, and storm water
vehicles, less than 5 percent of which utility fee credits, but these piece-
currently run on alternative fuels. meal measures pale in comparison
to the energy savings ensured by
Economic Factors buildings built to LEED standards.
Not only do community gardens The Green Institute offers tours to
and farmers markets make for the public on green building and

54 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
has developed a few green enter-
prises that can serve as models for
developing larger-scale efforts.

Summary/Next Steps
Minneapolis has strong leadership in
sustainability planning from both
Mayor R.T. Rybak and the city coun-
cil. The city has bold plans to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
increase renewable energy use and
reduce homelessness. These
important efforts may take years to
bear fruit, while in the short term
Minneapolis faces other challenges:
among them a widening divergence
between the priorities of urban
dwellers and the rural population,

and sprawling suburbs. Chances are


that a city that has survived


extended periods of 25-below-zero

weather will continue to thrive
throughout the next century.

Down the Mississippi River in


Minneapolis, MN | 55
56 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Baltimore, Maryland
A Port Town Reinventing Itself

B altimores identity as a working-

class port town is undergoing a
transformation, as the downtown is
revitalized, empty lots are converted
to community gardens, and shipping
centers are transformed into water-
front residential neighborhoods. The
renovated waterfront is now also
home to museums, cruise opera-
tions, retail stores and restaurants.
Its an affordable city that offers a
strong public transportation system,
abundant options for locally grown
food and a variety of attractive pub-
lic parks.

Healthy Living
In 2000, Baltimore had 14,000 vacant
lots. In response to this blight, the In another promising initiative,
citys Parks and People Foundation the city has committed to the Urban
created the Baltimore Grows project, Tree Canopy Goal project, which
which has helped community groups aims to double the number of trees
create and maintain more than 250 in the city over the next 30 years.
community gardens on city-owned This should improve air quality
vacant property. Community mem- (#36) and help pedestrians and bicy-
bers, many from low-income clists keep cool.
neighborhoods, work on the gardens Outdoor activities are quite
and learn valuable skills in creating, accessible, and the citys percentage
maintaining and harvesting food of parkland ranks #14 (parkland is a
resources. Produce from the gardens subcategory of planning, where
is sold to farmers markets and Baltimore is also strong at #9). Chief
restaurants. Four farmers markets among the many parks is Druid Hill
throughout the city are another Park. The second-largest urban park
source for fresh, locally grown pro- in the United States, residents heav-
duce, meats and specialty goods. ily use its shady lawns, rolling hills,

Baltimore, MD | 57
forestland and numerous streams Baltimore is the second most afford-
and lakes. able city in our rankings.
Like some other Eastern cities,
Getting Around Baltimore excels in certain healthy
Baltimore ranks #6 in overall mobil- living areas and transportation, but
Community ity (which includes congestion, city doesnt score as well in the area of
gardens, local food, eco-friendly commuting to work, green economy. There are no incen-
good public and regional public transportation), tives for green building (the city is
in part because of a commitment to #20 in LEED buildings) and 0 percent
transportation and of its energy mix comes from renew-
public transportation that dates back
affordability all to the 1890s. A subway debuted in able sources. The Chesapeake Bay
make Baltimore an 1983, light rail in 1992, and both Region chapter of the Business
excellent place for have been highly successful. Twenty Alliance for Local Living Economies
percent of Baltimoreans use public supports local businesses with net-
healthy living. working and directories.
transit to get to work (#8). Because
of the citys high density, walking is
Summary/Next Steps
also a great commute option: 6.5
percent walk to work. The city Community gardens, local food,
council has supported a campaign good public transportation and
to calm traffic and create more affordability all make Baltimore an
pedestrian-friendly measures. Most excellent place for healthy living.
citizens (58%) drive to work alone, The city is also a leader in urban
but that rate is low compared to the watershed protection, with the
rest of the nations cities. Baltimore Watershed Agreement
The Plug-In Baltimore campaign aimed at restoring the decline of
is part of a new nationwide program Chesapeake Bay water quality.
to encourage local government, edu- The city could benefit by focus-
cation, business and environmental ing on developing incentives for
organizations to consider the future green building and clean technology
purchase of flexible-fuel plug-in development. By doing so,
hybrid vehicles. Baltimore was one Baltimore has an opportunity to cre-
of the first cities to join the cam- ate an even healthier environment
paign. Less than 1 percent of the for its residents and visitors.
citys fleet vehicles, however, cur-
rently use alternative fuels.

Economic Factors
With a relatively low cost of hous-
ing and a high average income,

58 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Washington, DC
Leading by Example

T he city of Washington, DC con-

jures images more granite than
green, more power than produce.
But can the capital city get more
sustainable? Yes, and D.C. already
has the grades to prove it, as well
as signs of further improvement
Washington is the planned city
par excellence, an intentional space
of ceremony and symmetry.
Buildings taller than 160 feet are
forbidden, and the resulting vistas
are broad, punctuated by domes
and spires. City layout is rectilinear
with diagonal streets radiating from
key squares. Avenues long,
straight and lined with trees
arrange unbroken fields of view to Healthy Living
better highlight monuments and First, the bad news. Washington, DC
monumental architecture. ranks near last (#45) in water quality.
Today, 550,000 people live in In 1994, testing showed widespread
the company town for the colossal lead pollution affecting over 23,000
federal government. Many more homes. Since then, WASA has
live in the suburbs. The traffic is treated city water and initiated a
terrible Washingtons congestion lead-line replacement program,
ranks #46. But the city also show- reducing lead content in recent
cases some of the leading tests. The EPA continues to monitor
sustainable practices in the nation. the problem, but as of August 2006,
Some of these efforts are initiated EPA reports that sampling indicates
upstairs by the feds, some come DC water no longer exceeds federal
from city management, and some action levels.
come from DC natives who are On the bright side, the city ranks
gradually relocalizing city high (#4) in local food development,
neighborhoods. a combined measure of farmers

Washington, DC | 59
markets and community gardens. the success of Washingtons subway
The city is second only to Honolulu system, which opened decades after
for farmers markets per capita. most of the country had converted
Many seasonal markets throughout to suburbia and superhighways, is
the city connect consumers with especially impressive.
farmers from Pennsylvania, Today, this metro system of rail
Maryland and Virginia. Some of the and extensive bus routes make up
markets are hosted by the USDA, the citys public transit array. Nearly
which publicly encourages the direct 34 percent of city residents use pub-
marketing of local foods. Thanks in lic transportation to commute, and
part to its superb design, the city the federal district ranks #6 in pub-
also boasts an abundance of natural lic transportation. An impressive 11
space, with over 19 percent of the percent of residents walk to work, a
city devoted to parks. higher percentage than anywhere
else in our study. In all, DC ranks
Getting Around #1 for its diverse mix of well-used
Of the cities studied by SustainLane, commuting options.
most of the ones with good public A noteworthy DC innovation
Passengers board a train transit systems adopted subways or (also practiced in the San Francisco
at Metro Station, elevated trains well before the intro- Bay Area) is instant carpooling, or
Washington D.C. duction of motorcars. Thats why slugging, in which people needing
rides wait at bus stops and drivers
needing bodies to qualify for the
carpool lane pull up advertising
their destinations. No agency gov-
erns slugging. Its a surprising and
encouraging practice in a city so
characterized by officialdom.

Economic Factors
Headquartered here, the US Green
Building Council oversees programs
such as LEED certification, currently
the national standard for sustainable

construction. LEED building has

been embraced by many govern-

ment agencies, so it isnt surprising

that LEED technology is showcased
throughout Washington, DC. The
city ranks #4 in our study for green
But some of the citys most
inspiring achievements in green
building fall outside of official certi-

fication. GreenHOME is a grassroots

nonprofit that, in partnership with

60 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Habitat for Humanity, advocates for and the Water and Sewer Authority.
homes that are both sustainable and It promises to develop a green fleet
affordable. In 1998, GreenHOME of city vehicles using hybrid and
completed a single-family home that natural gas technology, and to
saves energy and reduces waste; its investigate ways to reduce the citys
low-impact construction used recy- energy footprint.
cled materials and cost less than This nascent outfit may very
$65,000. The house was donated to well shape the development of a
a low-income family. city traditionally intent on character-
izing American power, governance
Summary/Next Steps and responsibility. Its opportunity is
Partially in response to the lead in momentous: to reach out to commu-
its drinking water, Washington, DC nity innovators, recognize the value
created a Department of Environment of unfamiliar technologies, and ren-
in 2005. The department concerns der more of Washington, DC the
itself with sustainability and assumes neighborhoods, highways, and sew-
functions previously scattered ers, not just the monuments and Washington, D.C. has the
throughout the departments of historic buildings a living symbol highest walk-to-work rate of
Health, Public Works, Transportation of national achievement. any city in the United States.

Washington, DC | 61
62 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Sacramento, California
Capital Ideas

S acramento has a lot going for it.

Locals enjoy its proximity to two
rivers, the Sierra Nevada Mountains,
and the San Francisco Bay Area.
These geographic blessings are also
a curse: high pollutant counts and
100-degree temperatures in the sum-
mer can make easy breathing a
challenge and outdoor exercise dan-
gerous, and its neglected levees
mean some parts of the city are vul-
nerable to flooding. But the city has
a number of initiatives to address
these challenges, including a light
rail system, many new urban infill
projects and an impressive array of
solar energy installations.

Healthy Living Oakland and San Francisco. The

Sacramento has poor air, ranking conventionally raised produce rein-
#43. Before exercising and spending forces regional agricultural practices
time outdoors, residents should that pollute the citys tap water with
check the EPAs Spare the Air web- pesticides.
site (www.airnow.gov) for local Six percent of city land is set
pollutant forecasts (you might also aside for parks, ranking #33. The
sign up for the Air Alert e-mail citys Discovery Trail, popular with
forecast). Sacramentos water ranks joggers and bicyclists, follows the
considerably better, at #15. American River for 54 miles from
As befits a city that celebrates downtown Sacramento. The city
its NBA basketball team by ringing also has an impressive urban forest
cowbells, local produce can be that the Sacramento Tree
found throughout town at a variety Foundation aspires to double in size
of farmers markets. There are, how- in order to help improve air and
ever, fewer organic stalls than in water quality and reduce overall
Sacramentos neighbors to the west, energy use.

Sacramento, CA | 63
Getting Around options to buy Zero Energy Homes
Despite its successful light rail proj- and by providing free shade trees. A
ect including new extensions to tree benefit calculator will even esti-
Folsom that opened in 2005 pub- mate the energy savings and carbon
lic transit remains an issue in sequestration of your mature shade
Sacramento. About 3 percent of resi- trees.
dents use public transit to commute, With such attention paid to sus-
while 1.4 percent commute by bicy- tainable economic development, its
cle and 2.9 percent walk to work. no surprise that Sacramento ranks
Carpooling is slightly above average #2 (tied with Seattle) for overall
for US cities at about 11 percent. green economy indicators.
Still, almost 78 percent of residents Sacramento ranks #38 for natural
Sacramento has a drive alone to work, contributing to disaster risk. In addition to the aged
the regions air pollution. levees, Folsom Dam, perched above
number of Sacramento, sits atop the federal
However, public transit ridership
strengths to build has been climbing steadily, and Bureau of Reclamations ominous-
on. Its doing an Sacramento plans to continue sounding Safety Priority list.
excellent job extending the light rail system.
Dont be surprised to see non-auto- Summary/Next Steps
diverting waste, Sacramento has a number of
mobile commute percentages rise
has a strong rating over the next few years. strengths to build on. Its doing an
in green building, excellent job diverting waste, has a
and is a leader in Economic Factors strong rating in green building, and
A government town with a growing is a leader in solar energy.
solar energy. high-tech presence, Sacramento is Both of the citys biggest weak-
home to numerous projects in both nesses, air pollution and congestion,
solar energy and green building that are related to sprawl. The pollution
predate statewide mandates. The is compounded by nearby agricul-
city ranks #5 in LEED buildings per tural production that relies heavily
capita, including the 25-story LEED on pesticides, as well as geographic
Gold Certified California EPA head- features that cause air pollution to
quarters. stick around rather than blow away.
Sacramento also has what might Finding alternatives to car use and
be the largest base of residential and reckoning with the pollution caused
business solar industry systems in by industrial agriculture would help
the nation, with more than 1,000 create a healthier city. Several
installations. The Sacramento downtown mixed-use development
Municipal Utility District (SMUD) projects in various stages of plan-
offers incentives not only for photo- ning should take some cars off the
voltaic solar, but also for road while creating a more vital
concentrating solar, wind energy, urban center. Additional mixed-use
biomass and other renewables. development as well as continued
In fact, SMUD takes one of the investment in light rail should help
most complete sustainability systems the city deal with its challenges.
approaches found in any American
city by offering local home buyers

64 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Austin, Texas
A Pioneer

A ustin was a pioneer in green

building during the late 1980s
and early 1990s, when most cities
gave little thought to the conse-
quences of how much energy, water
and materials were used during con-
struction, use and demolition. With
the help of Gail Vittori and vision-
ary local architect Pliny Fisk, Austin
developed a whole rating system
and program around the concept.
More recently, Mayor Will
Wynn has led the charge for renew-
able energy, making Austin a
national center for innovation. The
Clean Energy Incubator is a leading
consortium of business, academic
the University of Texas has its main
campus here and state govern- companies and other manufacturers
ment leaders devoted to helping will have a ready-made base of cus-
about eight young clean-energy tomers and thus will commit to
companies succeed. mass production of these 100-mile-
Austins businesses and residents per-gallon wonders.
have some of the highest use of Given such a clear commitment
consumer-choice renewable energy to sustainability, why isnt Austin in
of any US metro area. To satisfy that the top ten of SustainLanes US City
demand, the citys public utility, Rankings? Mainly because the city
Austin Energy, has tapped into a remains heavily car-dependent, with
diverse network of solar, wind and critical ramifications for congestion
other forms of renewables. and overall economic health.
Mayor Wynn has also pushed
adoption of an emerging transporta- Healthy Living
tion technology, the plug-in hybrid Austins air quality remains clean
electric vehicle. The idea is to drive most of the time (#7), and tap water
demand so that the Big Three auto quality is above average (#19).

Austin, TX | 65
Parks are plentiful, taking up almost being noncompliant with the EPAs
14 percent of the citys land (#10). Clean Air Act. The city ranks #34
Austins 206 parks, 12 sanctuaries for congestion, #27 for metro public
for native plants and animals and 26 transportation ridership, and #34 for
greenbelts offer an amazing diver- commute to work.
sity of recreation and native But Austins Mayor Will Wynn
ecosystem preservation on fields is taking an active role in trying to
and courts, along creek beds, and in reduce the citys dependence on fos-
canyons. sil fuels with new technologies such
The local food system is thriv- as plug-in hybrids:
ing, too (#7). You can take
advantage of ten farmers markets, How can we help tie the energy
numerous community-supported and transportation sectors
agriculture providers, and high- together to really start to have a
profile community gardens and more holistic view of sustain-
demonstration centers. ability? ... A relatively simple
answer is essentially taking
Getting Around existing hybrid technology vehi-
Well cut right to it: Austin either cles and by dramatically
But Austins Mayor has insufficient public transit or a expanding the battery capacity
Will Wynn is population particularly inclined to and then having the ability
taking an active drive. Capital Metro is the citys sole with a plug-in charger on the
role in trying to means of public transit, and it vehicle itself where folks would
seems to be getting lonelier as time be able to simply plug their car
reduce the citys goes on. Public transit ridership fell in to a wall socket mostly
dependence on from about 5 percent in 2000 to overnight and get a charge with
fossil fuels with about 2 percent in 2004. Many technology advancements it
new technologies Austin voters did try in 2000 to get could represent fifty, seventy,
light rail, but the measure lost by a maybe ninety miles of commut-
such as plug-in narrow margin. ing the next day. The vast, vast
hybrids: Its not that people are using majority of Americans com-
other means of transport in Austin. mute less than twenty-five
Less than 3 percent walk or bike to miles each day. So heres this
work. Compare that to Washington, opportunity to tie what has
DC, a city of similar size in which been this big massive trans-
more than 12 percent walk or bike to portation sector into this big
work. The vast majority of Austinites massive energy sector and start
drive to work by themselves to see what kind of efficiencies
about 79 percent in 2004. and synergies there can be.
As oil prices rise, car depend-
ence is casting a shadow on the Economic Factors
citys accomplishments oil Because Austin did not respond to
dependency is the part of the sus- our survey, we were unable to offi-
tainability equation that is most cially rank the city in some
likely to reach crisis mode. For the categories related to economic
first time, Austin is on the verge of development. That doesnt mean

66 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
there isnt a lot going on. Austin is a human-powered energy in batteries
recognized leader in the green econ- for small devices.
omy, one of the few cities in our Austins maturing green building
study that has a working public-pri- industry is amassing impressive case
vate-academic clean tech incubator histories, with the city ranking #8 in
and numerous businesses focusing LEED buildings. Austins Green
on renewable energy and green Building Program juices the local
products and services. economy with value-added products
Clean tech start-ups are thriv- and services. For participating
ing, developing everything from homeowners and businesses,
biofuels and advanced transporta- Austins green building programs Austin skyline with solar
tion to geothermal and fuel cells. are having a demonstrable effect on panels. Austin is a leading
One local company, MicroDynamo, lowering energy and water use, cut- city for renewable energy
is even investigating the storage of ting residents long-term costs. development.

Austin, TX | 67
Summary/Next Steps Portland, Denver and San Francisco.
Commuter or light rail, bus rapid The difference is that these other
Austin is very transit, monorail? All of the above? three cities have, or are building,
strong in green Austins biggest opportunity to rise healthy public transit options to
business and is in the rankings is to create public offer their business base. Potential
highly appealing to transit options. To convince voters employees considering moving to
in the next election, the Economic these other cities can put a check
cultural creatives, Development office could point out beside ease of commuting on pub-
much like Portland, all the money that leaves Austins lic transit to work, as can
Denver and San local economy as all those drive- employers wanting to relocate
Francisco. alone-everywhere citizens pay knowledgeable workers. Austin will
hundreds of dollars for gas each need to consider how sustainable its
month. cultural creative growth can be con-
Austin is very strong in green sidering its lagging public transit
business and is highly appealing to options.
cultural creatives, much like

68 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Honolulu, Hawaii
Almost Paradise

P eople know Honolulu, of course,

for its location, location, loca-
tion. The ocean acts as a giant
thermostat, warming and moisturiz-
ing Arctic winds over thousands of
miles. By the time that air gets to
Hawaii, its a balmy 78 degrees.
Though Honolulus population
is smallish, at about 375,000, in a
single month just as many tourists
can pass through the city. Honolulu
is also an important transit hub,
with a lot of global freight and mili-
tary traffic.
The need for sustainability can
be especially acute for island cities
because of their partial reliance on
faraway supplies and processing.
Honolulu has made strides toward Healthy Living
sustainability, but could benefit Come to Honolulu for the air the
greatly from further efforts. city ranks #1 in air quality due to its
Our pristine environment, from location and landscape. Breezes take
the mountains to the sea, has pollutants out to sea, and clouds
always been precious to our resi- buoyed along by those winds beat
dents and visitors alike, said against the mountaintops, bathing
Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann. slopes and valleys in warm rain,
Whether its waste-to-energy recy- which then filters down through
cling, developing clean mass transit, volcanic rock to pool in deep
or striving to be more energy-effi- aquifers. This water, pumped and
cient, weve been taking the cleaned by the city, meets all EPA
necessary steps to insure that our guidelines for safe drinking (and
island home, with its many unique tastes exceptionally pure), though
challenges, is cared for, following in we were not able to officially rank
the footsteps of the indigenous people the citys water quality, as it was
who first called Honolulu home. not available in Environmental

Honolulu, HI | 69
Working Groups tap water quality run the states truck and marine
database. fleet on biodiesel.
Honolulu has more farmers
markets per capita than any of the Economic Factors
other cities we studied. Residents The Natural Energy Laboratory of
and visitors enjoy a large number of Hawaii Authority hosts many busi-
markets for fresh, island-grown pro- nesses doing proof-of-concept
duce sourced from local farmers research in aquaculture. Plankton,
and fishers. A city-managed project shrimp, abalone, clams, coral, sea-
called the Peoples Open Market runs weed, lobsters and a variety of fish
25 market sites, drawing a million are being harvested there rather
shoppers every year. For more upscale than at natural fisheries. Successes
fare, the weekly farmers market in aquaculture can only bolster
held in the parking lot of the Hawaiis already commendable
Kapiolani Community College fea- steps toward local food production.
tures organic greens, aqua-farmed Many similar endeavors are also
shrimp, aged honey, and heirloom underway.
tomatoes. Honolulu ranks #10 in LEED
buildings per capita, though the city
Getting Around does not have any green building
The layout of Honolulu is linear and incentive programs. With proper
Honolulu, already would benefit from a rail system. incentives, the city could become a
blessed with so About 10 percent of the citys com- national leader in green building.
much, could show muters do ride public transit to work,
us how to putting the city at #13. As is usually Summary/Next Steps
the case in US cities, most com- Honolulu is doing well compared to
maximize natures muters in Honolulu drive alone other US cities, and in certain areas
gifts and truly (about 62 percent), and regularly it deserves praise and emulation. In
shine as a complain about traffic. terms of energy, transportation and
sustainability At the same time, the island overall sustainability planning, how-
metropolis is slightly ahead of the ever, Honolulu doesnt distinguish
leader. curve in terms of people cycling to itself from the pack. It has an
work, probably because its a joy to opportunity to wrangle more energy
be outside. Honolulu also enjoys the from its breezy and sunlit clime.
first and largest vanpooling com- Almost 80 percent of the citys elec-
pany in the US, and more people tricity comes from the combustion
reportedly rideshare here than any- of oil, and the city has virtually no
where else in the country. renewables in its total energy mix.
Biodiesel is catching on in the Honolulu, already blessed with so
islands. Honolulu drivers can pump much, could show us how to maxi-
the cleaner fuel thanks to businesses mize natures gifts and truly
like Pacific Biodiesel, which has a shine as a sustainability leader.
plant in the city and ambitions to

70 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
From Beer to Biomass

W hen it comes to sustainability,

Wisconsins largest city often
gets overshadowed by Madison,
which, aside from already having a
University of Wisconsin campus,
has a reputation for being forward-
thinking and eco-friendly. But
Milwaukee has stately Lake
Michigan, a major public transporta-
tion system with ridership of 10
percent of the citys commuters, low
sprawl and great potential for urban
Milwaukee is also taking advan-
tage of its easy access to lake- and
river-front based recreation, an asset
that was surprisingly neglected until
the 1990s. Lake Michigan has since
been reimagined with parks and greater diversity, with substantial
museums, and the Milwaukee River populations of African, Asian,
has been gussied up with walkways, Italian, Polish and Arab Americans.
benches and hangout spots for
pedestrians and cyclists. You can Healthy Living
cruise the waterways in a kayak or Quality-of-life indicators are mixed,
canoe, stopping along the way at a such as air quality (#28) and tap
small business to browse books, eat water quality (#32). Lake Michigan
lunch or have a beer. sure looks pretty, but for drinking
Beer, yes the once largely purposes its less appealing the
Germanic city has been home to the citys tap water has 24 contami-
headquarters of Miller, Schlitz and nants, 4 of which surpass the EPAs
Pabst, as well as countless brands recommended limit. Despite such
that have gone the way of the dodo concerns, Milwaukees slower pace,
(Blatz, anyone?). Still flavored by its decent walkability and uncongested
German immigrant heritage, roads (#9) make it feel healthier
Milwaukee has assumed much than many other cities, and it

Milwaukee, WI | 71
devotes 9.8 percent of city acreage City Hall got 10 percent of its energy
to parks (#19). The plans for Erie from renewable sources and Mayor
Milwaukee has Street Plaza take into consideration Tom Barrett has directed city depart-
maintained its old- the principles of sustainability by ments to reduce energy use by 10
fashioned charm, restoring a once-contaminated percent, in part through vending
while embracing brownfield with native plants and a machine misers that shut off the
bamboo grove while keeping machines during non-business hours.
New Urbanist stormwater onsite and further beau- Housing affordability ranks a
redevelopment tifying the revitalized waterfront. mediocre #27. Average housing
approaches that Wisconsins love of sausage, prices are just under $112,000, but
encourage walk- cheese and bratwurst doesnt exactly the average income is only $31,000.
conjure up the picture of health. But
ability, mixed-use the city has access to networks of Summary/Next Steps
development, and smaller farms and orchards; cherries A new Milwaukee Green Team advi-
downtown density. and apples in particular thrive in the sory committee appointed by Mayor
northerly climate. Milwaukee has Barrett appears to be making head-
almost 50 community gardens and 8 way on coordinating more action in
farmers markets, which puts it at the area of sustainability planning
#13 in the nation for local food and and management. The team consists
agriculture. of business leaders, academics and
government and community organi-
Getting Around zation representatives. As part of
Public transportation is alive and their recommendations, the city and
kicking in Milwaukee, with about 10 Mayor Barrett are working with the
percent riding it to work everyday. nonpartisan Apollo Alliance to jump-
Another 10 percent or so commute start clean-tech industry efforts
via carpool, and almost 5 percent recommended by the Green Team.
walk or bike to work. That leaves Additionally, in 2006, the mayor
about 73 percent who drive alone appointed a sustainability depart-
every day to get to work, perhaps ment director and support staff.
encouraged by the lack of traffic con- Milwaukee has maintained its
gestion. But even without congestion, old-fashioned charm, while embrac-
that drive-alone rate will sap money ing New Urbanist redevelopment
out of the local economy and pollute approaches that encourage walk-
at a much greater rate than in cities ability, mixed-use development, and
that are less dependent on autos. downtown density. With conscious
efforts to fold sustainability plan-
Economic Factors ning and design into the mix,
Green buildings are on the rise Milwaukee could become the sec-
throughout the city, with 4 LEED ond city on Lake Michigan to make
Registered and 3 LEED Certified a name for itself with such innova-
structures, placing Milwaukee #21 in tive approaches.
LEED buildings per capita. The city
gets 2 percent of its energy from
renewable resources, including wind
and biomass. In 2006, Milwaukees

72 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
San Diego, California
An Emerging Leader?

W hats not to like? Warm days

cooled by ocean breezes, easy
access to beaches and parks, and a
revitalized downtown make for good
living. Behind this idyllic setting,
San Diego does have opportunities
to become more sustainable by
creating markets for local food,
improving its tap water quality, en-
hancing public transit and addressing
its high cost of living. Fortunately,
San Diego shows evidence of a
growing awareness of green build-
ing, renewable energy sources, and
strategies to reduce sprawl.

Healthy Living
San Diego gets its water from the
Colorado River, 1,500 miles away, world-renowned theaters, shopping
and from Northern California, 600 and restaurants, particularly in the
miles away. An enormous amount citys Gaslamp Quarter.
of non-renewable energy is used to There are only 5 farmers markets
get this water to the tap. And par- in San Diego for a population over 1
tially because of the waters epic million a surprisingly low rate for
journey past freeways and industry a city so well situated near agricul-
through open-air canals, San Diego tural areas. Its unfortunate that the
tap water (#44) has 27 contaminants, abundant produce from the farmers
with 5 over the recommended markets in Los Angeles doesnt
threshold. make its way down to San Diego,
San Diego can boast about its only two hours away. None of the
parks (#4 nationally) and outdoor San Diego farmers markets accepts
recreation opportunities. A trip to food stamps. A lack of community
Balboa Park lets you enjoy wide- gardens contributes to the citys
open spaces with gardens, fountains overall local food/agriculture rank-
and museums. There are also ing of #32.

San Diego, CA | 73
Getting Around multi-use projects that will double
Whether youre a resident or a employment and offer more housing
tourist, youre most likely to use a downtown. There are also incen-
car to get around San Diego. Very tives to build along the trolley
few people use public transit, walk routes, and plans for more parks,
or bike because the metropolitan affordable housing and historic
area is so spread out and criss- preservation projects. Critics of the
crossed with highways. Despite scheme worry about traffic conges-
warm weather and a physically fit tion and parking shortages, but in a
population, 81 percent of San sprawling, car-dependent city, its a
Diegans drive alone to work. step toward a sustainable downtown.
Less than 3 percent of the popu- Many green buildings are being
lation uses public transit. planned in San Diego, with 22 LEED
Alternatives to the car do exist Registered buildings and four
buses and a trolley-style light rail already certified (#12). All city con-
developed in 1981 but locals struction must meet a minimum of
report that these systems are not LEED Silver certification, which
convenient commuting options. means projects include everything
There are many network routes for from waterless urinals, day lighting,
recreational bicycle travel, especially renewable energy, water-saving
along the beach. As with Los xeriscape plantings, and more.
Angeles, though, citywide utilitarian Californias rigid standards for
cycling alternatives are limited and recycling and waste diversion have
very few people bike to work (less helped San Diego accomplish a
than 1 percent). waste diversion rate of 53 percent
Overall, San Diego ranks #44 in (#5), and some neighborhoods have
commute to work, #22 in public implemented a green waste pro-
transportation, and #37 for conges- gram. The city also reports that 8
tion very poor scores for a city of percent of its energy mix comes
some 1.2 million people. from renewable energy. That rate
could increase even more if the city
Economic Factors made better use of its abundant
San Diegos economy is thriving. sunshine; many of the current
San Diegos Booming biotech and electronics renewable sources are hooked into
economy is thriving. industries help keep unemployment the grid at a great distance from the
Booming biotech very low. The city government plays city.
a significant role in guaranteeing While San Diego is thriving eco-
and electronics more sustainable development nomically, it is also one of the most
industries help keep approaches. expensive places to live in
unemployment very Downtown San Diego has been the country, ranking #47 in
low. enjoying urban renewal. A smart affordability.
growth scheme led by the city and Less vulnerable to major earth-
local residents aims to increase den- quakes than nearby Los Angeles,
sity downtown as the population San Diego ranks #31 in natural dis-
increases to a projected three times aster risk. The city is at risk for
the present number. Plans emphasize flooding and even tsunamis, and

74 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
was destroyed in its early years by a as it redevelops its city center, it
moderate earthquake. needs to invest in public transporta-
tion so that using it becomes an
Summary/Next Steps everyday experience for more
Economically, San Diego is thriving, residents.
with low unemployment, economic
innovation, and a revitalized urban
core. In many ways, both residents
and city government are putting
their money where their mouth is.
Residents benefit from economic
growth that has incorporated green
building and businesses that cater to
fitness. San Diego is definitely a WIKIPEDIA / CREATIVECOMMONS 2.5
leader in the emerging economic
realm of sustainability.
There remain some significant
opportunities, however. Despite its
coastal location, favorable climate,
and abundant parks, San Diego is
not doing as well in terms of overall
quality of life. It has poor water
quality and needs improved access
to local food. And if the city wants One America Plaza, Seaport
to remain economically competitive Village in downtown San Diego.

San Diego, CA | 75
76 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Kansas City, Missouri
Laying the Groundwork

K ansas City, Missouri might be

known for its jazz history, stride
piano and barbecue sauce, but its
also making strides in city sustain-
ability. At the junction of the Kansas
and Missouri rivers, the city is sur-
rounded by a relatively flat
landscape with a smattering of
rolling hills. However, the combina-
tion of a lack of real natural
boundaries and the growing popu-
larity of the automobile made
typical postWorld War II sprawl
almost inevitable.
As the city expanded outward,
the thriving downtown began to
decline. The automobile reigned
supreme and money was funneled
into building roads. Kansas City an Environmental Department,
now has more miles of freeway per increased plans for public transit,
person than any other city in the green building, community gardens
nation, according to the local transit and pristine water quality are just a
advocacy group Smart Moves. few examples.
While sprawl continues and
most residents remain committed to Healthy Living
auto travel, leading indicators point Kansas Citys water quality ranks #1
toward a more sustainable future for of all the cities in our study, with no
Kansas City. Without a champion contaminants detected or pollutants
for sustainability, such as a mayor over EPA-designated levels. The
or city manager, or even a sustain- source, the Missouri River, is pol-
ability plan, the citys sustainability luted before being transformed in
efforts have been piecemeal until state-of-the-art treatment plants.
recently. However, progress is being Once it leaves the tap, the water is
made in some very innovative areas. so good, in fact, that in 1998 the
Mayor Kay Barnes 2006 addition of city began to bottle and sell it. City

Kansas City, MO | 77
Fountains Premium Bottled Water is depressions designed to collect rain
the top-selling municipally owned so that plants and bacteria can clean
bottled water in the Midwest. the water as it enters the ground.
That doesnt mean Kansas City One stormwater specialist calls
is resting on its laurels. The truly these rain gardens truly sustainable
innovative 10,000 Rain Gardens ini- in a way that our current system is
One of Kansas City, tiative calls on citizens, corporations, not. The rain gardens clean the
Missouri's 10,000 Rain nonprofits and city government to water, prevent contamination and
Gardens collects rainwater, voluntarily reduce runoff that pol- recharge water into a depleting
then cleans and filters the lutes the waterways by creating water source. And they involve the
water with native plants. rain gardens shallow entire community in the process.


78 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Officially, Kansas City has two began in 2005. Smart Moves, a joint
community food gardens. Kansas initiative of the Mid America
City Community Gardens is a non- Regional Council, Kansas City Area
profit dedicated to improving quality Transit Authority, and other regional
of life in low-income households transit entities, encourages the con-
and for the community by helping nection of the suburbs to each other
people grow their own fruits and and to downtown using an innova-
vegetables. The gardens are so pop- tive bus system.
ular that reservations are needed. In The city has made a commit-
fact, overflow has initiated gardens ment to a less-polluting vehicle fleet
in backyards, churches, vacant lots that doesnt depend solely on for-
and community centers. (The organ- eign oil. Almost 45 percent of its
ization helps with those gardens as city fleet vehicles use alternative
well.) fuel, one of the highest rates among
You can also find local produce the 50 largest US cities.
at the big outdoor City Market each
Sunday. But, despite the abundance Economic Factors
of locally grown food vendors and the After years of neglect, downtown Kansas City is
obvious interest in purchasing their Kansas City is coming alive again. A
goods, the city has only three farmers planned entertainment district,
emerging as a
markets. Overall, Kansas City ranks sports arena and expanding real leader in green
#24 in local food and agriculture. estate development converting building, ranking
Swope Park is an inner-city park vacant commercial buildings to loft- #16. All new city
that covers over one thousand acres style housing are good first steps.
and has a lake, an amphitheater and New transit plans will ensure better
buildings in a
sporting activities. Despite this and public transportation downtown. Kansas City are
other parks, parkways and gardens, Both the government and residents now required to
the total amount of city land seem to have a renewed commit- meet LEED Silver
devoted to parks places Kansas City ment to the citys core, but the new
near the middle of our rankings at plans do not yet incorporate any
#26. type of significant sustainable ele-
ments for the downtown plan.
Getting Around Kansas City is emerging as a
More than 80 percent of Kansas City leader in green building, ranking
residents commute to work in their #16. All new city buildings in a
car alone. There are no carshare or Kansas City are now required to
carpool programs, and very few meet LEED Silver certification.
people commute via bicycle or Kansas City is also participating in a
walking. Only 3.9 percent of resi- LEED for Existing Buildings pilot
dents take public transportation to program for its City Hall. The
work. Kansas City Science Center, which is
Those bleak statistics might be LEED Gold-Certified, features a
changing, however. In 2003, voters water recovery system that captures
approved a city sales tax increase to and filters rainwater.
fund a bus system expansion and Although the city doesnt offer
upgrade; the new bus system, MAX, residential or commercial green

Kansas City, MO | 79
building incentives, the organizations. Hopefully, the citys
Homebuilders Association of Greater addition of an Environmental
From rain gardens Kansas City has a voluntary green Department in 2006 will provide an
to internationally building program based on all four overall sustainability framework.
recognized green levels of LEED certification. The The city still has a very high rate of
building projects, program demonstrates community automobile use, no renewables in its
awareness and interest in green energy mix, a limited bus system,
Kansas City has building, featuring at least six green no green business guide and limited
no shortage of homebuilders within the city. access to a locally produced food
sustainability- supply. By integrating the various
Summary/Next Steps efforts into a broader, more systemic
From rain gardens to internationally approach to sustainability, the city
programs and recognized green building projects, will be better able to create long-
organizations. Kansas City has no shortage of sus- term solutions to its current and
tainability-related programs and future challenges.

80 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Making a U-Turn

U ntil now, if you lived in or vis-

ited Albuquerque, you needed a
car for everything. Like many
Western cities after WWII,
Albuquerque was developed with
the open road in mind. Miles and
miles of asphalt link retailers, office
space, residential areas and schools.
Sixty years later, thats beginning
to change, in part because of a for-
ward-thinking mayor, Martin
Chavez. The Chavez Era has
brought sustainability policies and
pro-business economic development
to the same table. As you make
your way through the streets now,
you may notice an increase in public
transportation, better linkages
between neighborhoods, more green even more. One of the largest gar-
building projects, and a large fleet of dens, Rio Grande Community Farm,
green city vehicles. demonstrates the Triple Bottom
Line principles of sustainability
Healthy Living economy, ecology and community
Albuquerque offers an abundance with 90 acres for commercial
of community gardens, farmers heirloom crops, 38 acres for bird
markets and public parks. Four migration and other wildlife, and 10
farmers markets dispersed through- acres for individual gardeners. In a
out the city provide a variety of city blessed with abundant sun-
locally produced food. shine, parks are a viable asset, and
If you want to grow your own 15.4 percent of city land is devoted
food or learn how others are doing to them.
it, there are three community gar- Do consider getting a water fil-
dens and three more are in the ter if youre living in Albuquerque:
planning phase and the Alley Water (#21) and air quality (#22)
Garden Project aspires to create are just slightly above average.

Albuquerque, NM | 81
Getting Around 100 percent green city fleet.
Albuquerque is among the worst in Presently 42 percent of the citys
local transportation performance in vehicles run on alternative fuel,
our study, ranking #47 for regional making Albuquerque a national
public transportation and #45 for leader in that category.
more sustainable city commute
practices (public transit, biking, Economic Factors
walking or carpooling). While pub- The mayor has a vested interest in
lic transit ridership has risen the creating an economic base that sup-
past two years, according to 2004 ports sustainability. Although there
data it was still around only 2 per- are presently no green building
cent of all transportation, while incentives, the mayor has commit-
biking and walking for commuting ted to green building standards for
were virtually nonexistent. Almost official city building construction.
all residents commute to work in The city has plans to extend those
their cars alone. To change this, standards to both residential and
Mayor Chavez has committed to commercial building. Albuquerque
giving the residents more options. ranks #25 in housing affordability,
One new alternative is Rapid Ride, with an average housing price of
an express trolley that services $140,000.
shopping, entertainment and dining. Unfortunately, none of the citys
Its even equipped with wireless energy mix currently utilizes renew-
access and books for children. able energy, though the city is
Several other public transit alterna- targeting 15 percent to 25 percent
tives are in the implementation renewables for city buildings over
phase, including light rail. Carshare the next few years. Albuquerques
and carpool programs are offered, Million Solar Roofs program, for
though the most recent numbers instance, facilitates thermal and PV
indicate that these are not yet heav- solar systems for public buildings.
ily used alternatives. In 2006, the city passed a resolution
The mayor has also committed to a earmarking $1 million for future


Rapid Ride, the citys new

hybrid-diesel Bus Rapid
Transit and possible
harbinger of a light rail

82 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
solar business development incen- Unlike many other cities,
tives and tax credits. Albuquerque recognizes its limita-
tions toward a sustainable future
Summary/Next Steps and has instituted policies and pro-
While Albuquerque ranks low in grams to begin changing. As the city
categories related to public transit, scales up its efforts, they are likely
an inspired mayor has instituted to take hold and become part of the
several programs to make the city citys everyday way of doing things.
more sustainable. Increased public
transportation, green building incen-
tives, and a sizable green fleet are
an excellent start. A growing local
food supply, a local water source
(the Rio Grande), affordability, and
a significant amount of parkland
indicate that Albuquerque has the
infrastructure to make sustainable
living in the desert a reality.

The city could make further

strides by boosting public transit
options and awareness; creating a
more dense, walkable city center;
and offering tangible incentives to
encourage green building projects
and emerging clean tech economies.
The Rio Grande, which ran com-
pletely dry during the drought of Albuquerque's downtown car
1996, needs to be carefully managed dependence is a situation city
and protected throughout its leaders are trying to overcome.

Albuquerque, NM | 83
84 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Tucson, Arizona
Becoming Sustainable in the Sun Belt

M ore people keep coming to

Tucson either as new residents,
tourists or students at the University
of Arizona. If you decide to become
one of those newcomers, youll find
that Tucson, though still affordable,
offers a high quality of life. Youll
get sunny skies practically 365 days
a year, a vibrant arts community,
and nearby wilderness recreational
activities including hiking, biking,
rock climbing and skiing on Mt.
Lemmon. However, the citys bur-
geoning population has formed a
tenuous relationship with the deserts
fragile ecosystem, as is symbolized
by the diminishing Santa Cruz River.

Healthy Living from semi-tropical and tropical fruits

Air quality is generally good, rank- and vegetables to grass-fed beef,
ing #16, but be careful about what local food products are surprisingly
you put in your water bottle. diverse considering Tucsons desert
Tucsons tap water quality (#23) location. Many inspired neighbor-
isnt terrible, but it isnt great, hoods have instituted community
either, with 27 contaminants, gardens, providing a place for neigh-
including 2 that are over the EPAs bors to gather and grow their own
recommended limit. The city is food and to learn how to start their
working to address its water quality own gardens.
by collaborating with the National
Science Foundation Water Quality Getting Around
Center to research the safety, health You wont have trouble finding
and aesthetics of water quality. parking in Tucson; most buildings
Its easy to find a farmers mar- dont exceed three stories and the
ket in Tucson that will satisfy your city has in the past required extensive
need for high-quality food. Ranging parking, encouraging automotive

Tucson, AZ | 85
use policies that have supported (#22), with relatively low median
a tendency toward sprawl. It comes housing prices and a living wage.
as no surprise that 73 percent of the
population drives alone to work. Summary/Next Steps
Unlike those in higher-density Tucson has many innovative proj-
US cities, people in Tucson are not ects in the pipeline or already up
in the habit of using public transit, and running, including a one-stop
with only 3.7 percent riding the bus shop landfill program that incorpo-
to work. With federal funding cuts, rates diverse options for recycling,
riding transit has become more of a waste disposal and an education
hassle as buses come less frequently facility.
and trips require several transfers. Tucson is ahead of many other
On the brighter side, 14 percent of Sun Belt cities because it has recog-
the population carpools to work. nized the necessity for sustainability
Tucsonans have 325 miles of planning in its future road map. A
bike lanes, 100 signed bike routes, new city manager and an active city
and 55 miles of shared (bike and council have placed sustainability at
Tucson has
pedestrian) paths, making it easy to the forefront of their agenda, giving
developed green take advantage of year-round sun. the office of environmental affairs
building incentives No wonder Tucson ranks #3 in bike more authority and funding.
for residential and commuting, with 2 percent of its This hasnt stemmed car-
population pedaling to work. dependent development, but city
incentives to limit sprawl and get
building and had Economic Factors people out of their cars are a good
8 registered LEED In order to guarantee a more sus- first step. Waste diversion, at 14
buildings as of tainable economic base, the city has percent, is low compared to that of
early 2006. developed green building incentives other cities, but the one-stop-shop
for residential and commercial build- landfill could improve that rate
ing and had 8 registered LEED through public awareness and ease
buildings as of early 2006. Combined of use. Finally, in a city where solar
with the abundant local food, these is such a viable alternative, the
two factors contribute to an above- existing rate of only 1 percent alter-
average green local economy. The native energy use is low, though the
city does rank low for its use of sunny city is working with solar-
renewable energy, however, with 95 energy groups to increase the use of
percent of the power supplied by coal solar power.
and only 1 percent by renewables.
Tucson is close to the middle of
the pack in terms of affordability

86 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
San Antonio, Texas
Building on a Broad Range of Strengths

S an Antonio is known as Military

City due to its four military
installations and the many military
retirees who stay in town. Nestled
in rolling hills, it features warm
winters and a lush green walkway
called the River Walk (or Paseo Del
Rio) in the heart of downtown. As
the oldest city in Texas, it also offers
historic attractions, including four
Spanish Missions and The Alamo.
Some 20 million visitors take in the
sights annually coming as
tourists, for conventions, or on mili-
tary assignment. The Air Force
conducts basic training in San
Antonio, and both the Army and Air
Force medical schools are here; the
Armys is the largest healthcare any other alternative system has
training facility in the world. ever been built. As the population
continues to grow in San Antonio,
Healthy Living the city faces a serious question
San Antonio ranks #18 in local food about how to protect the groundwa-
and agriculture, and parks cover 6.3 ter supply that, centuries ago,
percent of its area. Air quality in allowed Spanish missionaries to
San Antonio is relatively good (#14). establish a stronghold next to the
San Antonio sits on one of the vast Chihuahuan Desert.
most prolific artesian aquifers in the
world, and its water quality is Getting Around
ranked #6 in our study. However, San Antonio is part of the I-35 corri-
the aquifer is sensitive to overuse; dor, the most significant blacktop in
the San Antonio Water System Texas. No other state exports as
declared 2006 levels to be very low, much as Texas, and I-35 conveys
a prelude to summer drought restric- freight trucks to Canada and
tions. No surface water system or Mexico. Commuters use the highway

San Antonio, TX | 87
as well as truckers, so traffic in out- lights throughout the urban grid
lying areas is bad and getting worse. accordingly. These smart high-
Attempts at developing public tran- ways report congestion on large
sit, including light rail, havent been electronic billboards along the high-
very successful. About 2 percent of way. San Antonio, an early adopter
commuters use existing public trans- of this technology, serves as a case
portation. Nearly 80 percent of San study example for other cities con-
Antonians drive to work alone. sidering it.
Nevertheless, San Antonio gets
a good mark for traffic congestion Economic Factors
within the city, ranking #15. San Antonio has shown strong ini-
Congestion is kept under control in tiative in the use of renewable
part by highway management sys- energy and in greenhouse gas emis-
tems that monitor traffic flow with sion tracking; the city ranks #12 in
The River Walk in San cameras and pressure strips, and this category. About 2.5 percent of
Antonio. then automatically coordinate traffic the citys power comes from wind


88 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
energy. Texas is ranked second Summary/Next Steps
nationwide in terms of wind energy San Antonios population has grown
potential, with the panhandle and significantly over the last two Texas is ranked
West Texas Mountains providing decades, which could present chal- second nationwide
sufficient wind to keep windmills lenges down the road. While the in terms of wind
spinning. A cluster of huge wind citys highway management system energy potential,
generators in West Texas called has limited congestion, offering pub-
Desert Sky is being tapped by the lic transportation options that get with the panhandle
power utility in San Antonio to give people out of their cars would help and West Texas
subscribers the option to buy wind it support its growing population Mountains
power. On a smaller scale, natural a strong argument in favor of devel- providing sufficient
gas produced by rotting waste is oping light rail.
also being used to supplement the The citys sustainability plan- wind to keep
citys grid. ning might benefit as well from the windmills spinning.
These efforts to diversify San military. Starting in 2006, all Army
Antonios energy infrastructure are installations must comply with envi-
bolstered by educational and out- ronmental benchmarks. The Army
reach programs by local nonprofits already has its own green building
such as Solar San Antonio. Another certification standard, based on
nonprofit, the Metropolitan LEED, called Sustainable Project
Partnership for Energy, runs out- Rating Tool (SPiRiT). By 2009, the
reach programs such as Build San Army aims to be entirely compliant
Antonio Green, which spreads the with ISO 14000, a strict interna-
word on green residential construc- tional standard for implementing
tion among builders and environmental management sys-
homeowners. Though the city lags tems. The other military branches
behind most others in green build- are expected to follow suit. Taking a
ing (#47), it has 5 LEED buildings cue from its military installations,
registered and due to be built. the city has an opportunity to come
A living wage and low housing up with a more focused sustainabil-
costs help make San Antonio the ity plan that can move it into a
most affordable city in our study. leadership position.
The median home price is $88,000
and the median monthly rent for
apartments is $550, both well below
the national average.

San Antonio, TX | 89
90 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Phoenix, Arizona
Something New Under the Sun

P hoenix has a reputation as a

retirement community with a
relaxing desert environment, abun-
dant sunshine and lots of golf
courses and until recently, it was
pretty much just that. In 1950, there
were only 105,000 people living
within the city limits and less than
half the streets were paved. Now,
Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in
the United States.
Because Phoenix is such a new
city and has grown so fast, it is
markedly different from other large
US cities. Phoenicians resisted
growth by trying to preserve a
small-town feel (it wasnt until the
1980s that the city surrendered to a
highway system). Its residents are while nighttime temperatures can
passionate about preserving wide- plummet to 30 degrees.
open landscape views, so growth
has been channeled into low-density Healthy Living
sprawl. Water is always a topic of conversa-
Climate is one of Phoenixs tion in an urban desert
defining features. In the Navajo lan- environment. Phoenix is one of the
guage, Phoenix is called Hoozdo, or few desert cities with a local water
the place is hot. The summer tem- supply. The Salt River, its water
perature exceeds 100 degrees an source, runs through the city. Its
average of 89 days of the year, with riverbed is normally dry, except dur-
a record high of 122 degrees in ing a flood, when one of the four
1990. Phoenix lies in a valley in the dams upriver releases water. The
heart of the Sonoran Desert. Winters tap water contains 27 contaminants,
are mild and sunny with huge tem- including 4 over the recommended
perature fluctuations. Daytime legal limit (#35); residents might want
temperatures might reach 70 degrees to consider a water filter for their tap.

Phoenix, AZ | 91
Urban parks have become a pri- Economic Factors
ority for the city. Residents and As in many of the US cities in this
tourists can explore what is claimed study, Phoenix is only starting to
to be the largest metropolitan park address sustainability as part of its
in the world, South Mountain Park. government planning. Phoenix does
More parkland is on the way: In not have green building incentives
1999, voters agreed to preserve for commercial or residential build-
15,000 acres of land for 9 regional ing projects. It does, however, have
parks. a growing number of LEED Certified
Phoenix is surrounded by farm- green buildings (#28). About 1 per-
ing communities that provide a cent of the citys energy mix uses
wide variety of local produce, but renewable energy resources. In a
residents can get it at only 6 farm- city that boasts over 300 days of sun
ers markets (ranking #34), which is annually, solar energy installations
In 1999, voters not very many for a city of over a could be a local economic develop-
agreed to preserve million people. There are four com- ment engine.
15,000 acres of munity gardens in Phoenix.
Summary/Next Steps
land for 9 regional Getting Around Due to its rapid growth, Phoenix is
parks. In its early days, Phoenix was a an adolescent compared to most
small desert town with gorgeous other large US cities. As a result, the
views and cheap land all around. city faces challenges that many other
Until recently, there was no highway large cities addressed long ago,
system or extensive public transit. though residents and government
But all thats changing, as alike are beginning to address these
Phoenicians seek alternatives to issues. The introduction of light rail,
auto travel. After many failed votes, expansion of urban parks and inter-
voters approved the Phoenix Light est in LEED certified buildings are a
Rail System in 2000. A 20-mile good start. Another opportunity the
starter line was planned to open in city might consider would be to cre-
2006, with the entire line set to go ate incentives for urban infill
full throttle by 2008, which should projects and planning for public
help open up possibilities for those transit and pedestrian-friendly envi-
beyond the 3 percent of the popula- ronments. The US Green Building
tion who ride public transport to Councils LEED for Neighborhood
work every day. Light rail would Developments, or LEED-ND, would
also boost commuter ridership into be a great model for the city to use
a respectable range it is projected as a guideline.
to carry 3,000 to 5,000 passengers
per hour during peak hours when it
opens in late 2008, and could be a
viable alternative to driving.

92 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
San Jose, California
High Tech Hub Makes Strides

W ith 6,600 technology compa-

nies employing more than
250,000 highly skilled and highly
educated workers, its not surprising
that residents of San Jose pull down
the highest median income of any
US city with more than 300,000 peo-
ple. Less well known is that the city
has had the lowest crime rate for
three years running, and recycles
more waste a whopping 62 per-
cent than any of the cities we
ranked outside of California.
There are downsides to this cre-
ative class economy, such as the
gain and loss of nearly 200,000 jobs
during the dot-com boom and bust,
and a housing market in which
homes cost more than triple the fourth-lowest percentage in our
national average. San Joses leaders study.
have responded to these and other The city has 19 community gar-
concerns with strategic economic dens, and an above-average ranking
planning in order to ensure San of #20 in local food, which remains
Joses ongoing preeminence in the lower than one might expect in light
technology industry. of its rich agricultural history.
San Jose is tied for first in waste
Healthy Living diversion, but thats come partly by
The citys air ranks #7 despite the shifting responsibility for electronic
number of cars on the road and waste control to developing countries.
sprawling development, and the In US landfills, discarded computer
water is pretty clean at #12. The city cathode ray tubes and other elec-
also offers a newly revitalized, tronics comprise a main source of
pedestrian-friendly downtown to hazardous waste contamination.
relax in, but only 3.4 percent of city Hewlett-Packard has been a leader
land is devoted to parks the in responsible e-waste practices,

San Jose, CA | 93
Aerial view of Highway 87 as sponsoring take-back programs; Economic Factors
it passes through San Jose. hopefully more electronics makers Over the last several decades, the
will follow suit. citys economy has grown rapidly
and steadily, and its population has
Getting Around grown along with it its now the
Despite traffic congestion (#39 10th largest US city. That growth
nationally), more than 80 percent of hasnt left San Jose without chal-
San Jose residents drive alone to lenges. Anti-sprawl measures have
work. The city offers ecopasses to created a shortage of land for new
city employees that allow free rides housing, which has helped raise
on both the bus and light rail sys- median home prices, severely affect-
tem, and all public transit vehicles ing lower- and moderate-income
have bicycle racks. Yet only 2 per- residents.
cent of residents ride public transit A living wage ordinance helps
or walk to work, and less than 1 city employees make ends meet,
percent bike to work, despite the and the Teacher Homebuyer
citys efforts to educate drivers, Program is an innovative program
pedestrians and cyclists about shar- that has brought home ownership
ing the streets through its Street within reach of more than 428
Smarts program. teachers since 1999. Over the last

94 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
several years, the city has also built At #23 overall, San Jose is
several hundred affordable housing beginning to address sustainability
units, including a mixed-use hous- issues through its Environmental
ing development downtown. Services Department and its General
The city has a variety of other Plan. Efforts to date include incor-
initiatives to promote sustainable porating LEED building standards,
business, including a Green promoting higher density and
Business certification program, mixed-use neighborhood develop-
Environmentally Preferable ment, and revitalizing downtown.
Purchasing policies, and plans to These represent a promising start.
install five renewable energy sys- San Jose could take a bigger
tems by 2008. step forward by offering commercial
and residential incentives for green
Summary/Next Steps building and, taking a page from San Jose is among
San Jose is among the cities best sit- San Franciscos book, creating a the cities best
uated to promote and reap the greenhouse gas inventory to estab- situated to promote
benefits of a transition to a lish a baseline for reducing carbon
greener economy. Its educated, tech- emissions. It could also put more and reap the
savvy population and its proximity energy behind creating local food benefits of a
to venture capital make it one of the resources and encourage Silicon transition to a
nations leading incubation clusters Valley technology businesses to greener economy.
for clean-tech start-ups. However, institute responsible product-lifecy-
for the city to become a true leader cle stewardship programs, which
in sustainability requires more than would have repercussions for
the ability to grow an industry it healthy living not just in the United
requires sustainable behavior such States, but around the world.
as creating more affordable housing
options for local residents, ensuring
access to local food, and building in
ways that reduce sprawl and traffic

San Jose, CA | 95
96 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Dallas, Texas
Taking the Bull by the Horns

D allas is the glittering jewel in

the crown of whats known
locally as the Dallas-Arlington-Fort
Worth Metroplex. The largest of the
three cities, Dallas prides itself on
being the hippest and most sophisti-
cated city in North Texas. It has the
best restaurants, best music scene
and most ethnically diverse popula-
tion, and its the economic engine
driving the region. Moreover, it is
the most sustainable of the three
cities based on our criteria.
But Dallas isnt content to be a
big fish in the big state of Texas.
The city is taking steps to be more
competitive with all of the 50 major
US cities we ranked, and has devel-
oped a comprehensive plan called per week, they havent caught on to
Forward Dallas! outlining its farmers markets. Only one market
strategies. is registered with the US Department
of Agriculture. Slightly better is the
Healthy Living opportunity for public urban gar-
Residents in Dallas enjoy reasonably dening, with eight community
good water (#11) and have a decent gardens located within the city limits.
number of parks to play in (#18). Nonetheless, the city ranks #48
The air is middling at #22. Despite overall for local food and agriculture.
(or maybe because of) being ringed
and intersected by freeways much Getting Around
like the spokes of a wheel, Dallas Making Dallas a less car-oriented
suffers from serious traffic conges- city is a major thrust of the Forward
tion (#41) that contributes to lower Dallas! initiative. It wont be easy
air quality during summer. just because the light rail system
Although Dallas residents enjoy exists doesnt mean people will use
eating out an average of three nights it, and based on 2004 data, just over

Dallas, TX | 97
4 percent commute to work on public of the typical urban environment.
transit. When commute ridership is Green roof replacement is another
below 5 percent, public transit is strategy in the mix.
perceived as more of a novelty than Zoning alone may not be
a reliable form of transportation. enough. Tax revenues will increase
Bicycling and walking can be as energy-efficient buildings go up,
difficult. As a Dallas Morning News but Dallas needs to do more to pro-
editorial put it, Dallas is a city built vide incentives for developing clean
The city is heading for cars, not for people. If you doubt technology, such as renewable
in the right it, consider this: Virtually every street energy and production of biofuels.
direction with its is lighted, but almost no sidewalks The city is heading in the right
vehicle fleet [are]. Thats because people are direction with its vehicle fleet
expected to drive even short distances biodiesel is regularly used as an
biodiesel is rather than walk. The DART alternative fuel. Overall, the city
regularly used as (Dallas Rapid Transit) rail system is fleet has 39 percent alternative-
an alternative fuel. slated to double in size by 2014; it fueled vehicles, one of the highest
will be telling whether the system rates in our study.
sees a significant increase in ridership.
Summary/Next Steps
Economic Factors The city government has involved
Dallas made the transition from an the community in creating a path
oil-based economy during the 1980s toward greater sustainability. It
to become the Silicon Prairie. already has a comprehensive
Texas Instruments had already been Environmentally Preferable
a player in this industry since 1957, Purchasing plan, and is working on
when the integrated circuit was implementing an Environmental
invented. The retail industry also has Management System in 11 city
a major presence; in fact, Dallas has departments. The newly created
more shopping centers per capita Office of Environmental Quality will
than any US city. Retail isnt famous oversee the system.
for its contributions to sustainabil- Dallas will soon complete its
ity, since its vast parking lots enable greenhouse gas inventory, and it has
ongoing auto dependence and non- a number of other interesting proj-
point water pollution from runoff. ects in the works, including using a
The citys strategy for future bioreactor at the landfill to produce
economic development is to focus on methane as fuel. Organizations such
what it can control namely land as Sustainable Dallas are working
use through zoning codes. New with the city to help kick-start sus-
development is slated to increase tainable ventures. Developing a
density in most urban areas and local food infrastructure and aggres-
preserve much of the 18 percent sively promoting recycling Dallas
undeveloped land as open space. New ranks #41 in waste diversion are
city buildings will conform to LEED two things the city can do to move
building standards, and landscaping forward at an even faster pace.
will mitigate the heat island effect
generated by the acres of concrete

98 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Los Angeles, California
Significant Progress

U nhealthy inland air, poor tap

water imported from afar, and
semi-paralyzed roadways are endur-
ing Los Angeles hallmarks, but
the city has made significant
progress toward becoming more
For example, LA lords atop the
recycling rankings (along with three
other cities), and its five percent
renewable energy use is surpassed
by few US cities. A new commit-
ment to bus rapid transit and light
rail have kept commuter use close
to 10 percent, helping LA earn a
surprising #8 ranking in regional
public transit. While the city is
exploring ways in which such
efforts will provide new jobs and 1970s. Nevertheless, LA (both city
greater freedom from imported fossil and county) still ranks last overall
fuels, maintaining a high quality of in air quality, with severe ozone
life remains LAs most elusive violations, serious carbon monox-
challenge. ide violations, and serious
particulate matter violations, accord-
Healthy Living ing to the EPA.
Healthy alternatives are available Hollywoods Griffith Park is a
not only on the coast, but all over rambling, rocky mass of mountain,
town. Tap water and ocean sewage fern dens and spring creeks with
issues aside the citys tap water honest-to-goodness coyotes lurking
comes in last out of the largest US up around the famous sign and
cities, with 46 pollutants overall and beyond. You can jog or ride a moun-
7 over the recommended threshold tain bike there in solitude during
Los Angeles has improved its air weekdays and look out toward the
quality significantly since the infa- ocean or east into Pasadena and the
mous brown days of the 1960s and San Gabriel range. The coast is fine,

Los Angeles, CA | 99
too, with a nice paved trail running Getting Around
from Santa Monica to Venice Beach Eavesdrop on just about any conver-
for running, biking or skating. sation in Los Angeles and youll
Cycling in traffic is not for newbies, learn that getting from point A to
though, or even hardcore types point B is never simple. Knowing
youll see few cyclists on the streets, what road to take and when is an
even around the campus of UCLA. essential skill in the city with the
Nearby Santa Monica has the worst freeway and road congestion
best farmers markets, but LA does in the nation. Still, the city main-
also offer quite a range, including tains a decent commute-to-work rate
some classic stands in the down- on public transit (near 10 percent),
town area, with two year-round and LA is successfully criss-crossed
locations. with a Bus Rapid Transit system of

100 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
many miles and routes. Carpools are environmental disasters (LA ranks
an option for many (about 10 per- #43 in natural disaster risk).
cent use them) and the city offers Green building (#30) remains
both carpool coordination and car- insignificant compared to whats
sharing through private companies. happening in leading cities. Los
Angeles does excel in renewable
Economic Factors energy (#4), which makes up 5 per-
Housing is some of the least afford- cent of its energy mix. LA also has
able in the nation (#48), and the the most aggressive greenhouse-gas
citys combined earthquake risk reduction target of any US city: 30 Interstate 110 at dusk. This
and precarious dependence on percent from 1999 to 2010. An impres- sprawling landscape has
imported water may someday proj- sive 25 percent of the vehicles in the encouraged a car-dependent
ect it into any number of potential city fleet run on alternative fuel. lifestyle.


Los Angeles, CA | 101

Summary/Next Steps facilitate more carpooling and car-
The citys new commitment to sharing and develop more densely
LA also has the renewable energy and recycling are designed walkable areas similar to
most aggressive two bright spots, as are attempts to those in its new downtown to
greenhouse-gas increase public transit with light make the city economically competi-
rail, subway and bus rapid transit. tive. The city currently facilitates
reduction target of
SustainLA is a project devoted to carpooling only for city employees.
any US city: 30 improving coordination among the Water is another ongoing issue.
percent from 1999 city agencies that manage those sys- TreePeople, a nonprofit, is working
to 2010. tems. to help retain rainwater that the city
LAs freeway and road conges- and Army Corps of Engineers cur-
tion, though, is a painful everyday rently send through sewers to the
situation that wastes fuel, cuts pro- open sea. Parks serve as 100,000-
ductive hours for the workforce and gallon flood-control catch basins
even limits businesses ability to get with underground cisterns; the solu-
supplies in a timely manner. The tion beautifies and also cools down
eternally packed freeways are what neighborhoods. Unless innovative
playwright Sam Shepard likened to solutions like TreePeoples succeed,
a giant ravenous serpent and it water is going to have to continue
shows no signs of being tamed. coming from far away, at great
The City of Angels must con- expenditures of energy and to the
tinue to improve public transit detriment of its quality.
systems and increase ridership,

102 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Growing Up Smart

N estled in the evening shadow of

Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs
has long been a place to kick back
and enjoy the Rocky Mountain
scenery. Set up in 1871 as a resort
town, today Colorado Springs has
over 360,000 people and a steady
stream of visitors. Many of the
areas early arrivals came to cash in
on gold discovered at Cripple Creek
and Victor in 1891. Many of those
who hit pay dirt built monumental
homes in the North End, still a posh
section of town.
By 1917, the gold was gone.
The next big economic boom came
during World War II. Following the
Pearl Harbor attack, Camp Carson
was built, marking the beginning of fitness a priority. The city is reason-
a military boom-bust cycle ably compact and walkable, and it
expansion during wartime, followed recently enacted a policy called
by decline. The military presence Complete Streets to encourage walk-
was cemented when the United ing and bicycling.
States Air Force Academy was sited Having a few more farmers
here during the 1950s, and in 1963 markets and community gardens in
when the North American the vicinity might encourage even
Aerospace Defense Command more people to venture out into
(NORAD) bunkered itself inside their communities the city ranks
nearby Cheyenne Mountain. #21 for local food and agriculture.
Tap water ranks #28 you might
Healthy Living consider putting a filter on your tap.
Rife with clean mountain air (rank-
ing #12) and stunning parklands and Getting Around
open spaces, Colorado Springs resi- Most people in Colorado Springs
dents have always made outdoor drive alone to work (78 percent),

Colorado Springs, CO | 103

and another 11 percent carpool. (which includes Colorado Springs),
Public transportation use is virtually such as eliminating solid and haz-
nonexistent, though a few people do ardous waste and air emissions,
walk to work (almost 3 percent). converting all operations to renew-
Residents have identified improving able energy sources, including
transportation as the citys most vehicles, and conforming all build-
important issue. Getting drivers and ings to the LEED Platinum standard.
passengers out of their cars and into The city has made a commit-
their communities is one of the ment to increase its use of energy
goals of the citys mixed-use devel- from renewable sources and is also
opment plan, which attempts to working to reduce greenhouse gas
combine business and residential emissions.
districts. It will take some time for
such policies to have a major effect Summary/Next Steps
on peoples habits, however. Colorado Springs has experienced
The city has an tremendous population growth and
excellent Economic Factors development in the past 20 years.
opportunity to take The military is the backbone of the Now among the 50 largest US cities,
advantage of its local economy; tourism and high- it has only recently begun to experi-
tech companies such as Intel round ence typical urban problems such as
compact size and out the picture. Colorado Springs congestion, rising crime and deterio-
Rocky Mountain has an average number of green rating neighborhoods. The city has
location to create a buildings (#25) but that could an excellent opportunity to take
healthy place for its change soon if the Pikes Peak advantage of its compact size and
Sustainability Indicator Project rec- Rocky Mountain location to create a
present and future ommendations are followed. healthy place for its present and
residents. Developed by the US Armys Fort future residents.
Carson Mountain Post, the plan sets
out some ambitious goals for the
post and its host, El Paso County

104 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Las Vegas, Nevada

H aving recently celebrated its

centennial, Las Vegas today
sports world-class restaurants, enter-
tainers and the legendary Strip. Its
one of the fastest-growing US cities
booming 12 percent from 2000 to
2004 alone.
Las Vegas is undergoing a fast-
forward version of the classic urban
development pattern of exurban
sprawl that has led other Sun Belt
cities into complete dependence on
the automobile. As oil prices rise,
such a city configuration presents a
greater economic challenge for resi-
dents and employers. Another
stumbling block which may be a
blessing in disguise is that the
city is beginning to run up against features, hopefully heralding a
federally owned land at its outer more urban form of city planning
limits. for the region.
With fast, sprawling growth
comes a host of negative economic, Healthy Living
environmental and public health Long known for its clear desert air,
consequences: congestion, increased Las Vegas is now experiencing sig-
air pollution and asthma, rising obe- nificant air pollution. The citys
sity rates, depletion of water population boom and high rate of
resources, and, underlying it all, auto use have contributed to carbon
increased energy consumption. So monoxide pollution labeled seri-
its promising that work has started ous by the EPA. The city ranks #32
on Project CityCenter, a multibillion- in our study for air quality.
dollar mixed-use development on Tap water quality rates even fur-
the Strip (which is officially ther down the scale, coming in at
unincorporated Las Vegas) with #42 out of the largest 50 US cities.
an emphasis on non-gambling Water in Las Vegas contains 37

Las Vegas, NV | 105

contaminants, 6 that are over the farmers markets. Las Vegas ranks
EPA recommended threshold. One just below average for local food
ongoing threat is that the city needs indicators at #26.
to continually import water from
more and more sources around the Getting Around
state, which may have varying In terms of commuting practices,
degrees of water quality problems Las Vegas falls behind most other
because of gold mining and other US cities. About 4 percent use pub-
minimally regulated industrial lic transit to get to work, and less
activities. than 3 percent ride a bike or walk
Sin City doesnt exactly conjure as part of their daily commute.
images of fresh produce. But at least About 76 percent drive alone to
MGM Grand Casino, Las some of whats grown in Vegas work, though the city does have an
Vegas Strip. stays in Vegas the city has four almost 13 percent carpool rate,


106 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
which is in the top ten for that Las Vegas leads the pack in its
category. percentage of alternative-fueled city
In 2004 Las Vegas developed a vehicles. In this era of impending oil Las Vegas leads
monorail that connects the resorts shortages and rising gasoline prices,
along the Strip though the Strip Las Vegass fleet includes 450
the pack in its
is not part of the City of Las Vegas biodiesel-powered vehicles, 268 percentage of
proper. The city plans to invest in compressed natural gas vehicles, a alternative-fueled
growing its bicycling infrastructure few hybrid cars, and even two city vehicles.
to get people out of their cars and Segway scooters being piloted for
onto human-powered transport. parking enforcement. The Clark
County school district is also a
Economic Factors leader in biodiesel use.
With about 300 sunny days a year,
Las Vegas is a natural for solar Summary/Next Steps
power. Sponsored by two local utili- Despite a reputation as an environ-
ties, the Green Power program mental dead zone, Las Vegas is
enables ratepayers to make tax- making headway in engineering its
deductible donations to finance future around more intelligent uses
solar projects. Residents may also of resources. Besides green build-
participate in a net metering pro- ings, alternative-fueled vehicles, and
gram, which allows property owners utility net metering for residents to
who have installed renewable resell their solar power, Las Vegas
energy systems on their property to has made an important move
sell power back to the grid. toward conserving the vast amounts
Currently ranked at #11 in green of water it uses. The city opened a
(LEED) buildings per capita, Las water reclamation facility in 2001
Vegas is poised to become a leader that can recycle 10 million gallons of
in this high-growth sector of the water per day, which will help the
economy. Although it has no LEED desert city famed for its lavish
Certified buildings to date, 14 build- waterfalls better conserve the wet
ings are LEED Registered, including stuff. If the city can start to use
the Project CityCenter in Clark solar cells to power all those neon
County. This vast entity will take signs, light bulbs and casinos, Las
up 66 acres LEED certification Vegas might have a real sustainability
and a denser configuration will help story to tell.
shrink its energy footprint. The fact
that its a multibillion-dollar com-
plex in Vegas will also make other
local and national developers take

Las Vegas, NV | 107

108 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Cleveland, Ohio
Give and Take on the Lake

C leveland, which ranks #28, is no

stranger to the consequences of
unsustainable practices. The modern
environmental movement literally
blazed into public consciousness
here during the late 1960s, when
the polluted Cuyahoga River, which
flows through the city into Lake
Erie, caught fire. Repeatedly. Lake
Erie, the fourth-largest Great Lake,
was declared a Dead Lake in the
1970s, after pollution had caused
algae to bloom in such quantity that
fish populations died en masse.
Now the river no longer lights up
the night and Lake Erie, though still
subject to a seasonal dead zone in
its middle, supports sport fishing
and healthy aquatic populations. categories, including #29 in air qual-
Besides its lakefront location, ity and #31 in tap water quality.
Cleveland has advantages over other Lake Erie supplies plentiful water,
large cities in Ohio in that it has but not all of it is savory. The citys
good public transportation com- tap water contains 19 contaminants,
bined with a historic downtown that including 4 over the recommended
has been undergoing continual revi- EPA threshold.
talization since the 1980s. The bad For parks, the city also rates
news is that the city continues to below average its 5.8 percent
lose population to its suburbs and parkland (out of total city acreage)
other parts of the nation: The citys puts it at #35 in that category. You
population declined from 914,000 in can, however, spend years exploring
1950 to 458,000 in 2004. Lakefront State Park, created in the
1970s when four city parks were
Healthy Living combined into a single super park
Cleveland gets middle-of-the-road connected by a bicycle path and fit-
marks in most healthy living ness course.

Cleveland, OH | 109
Overall, the city ranks #27 in Cleveland Metropolitan Orchestra,
local food and agriculture, with a the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and
high rate of community gardens some famous pro sports teams.
there are about 200 offset by only Green building appears to be
two farmers markets. making fast progress, with the citys
ten LEED Registered buildings rank-
Getting Around ing it #13. The city is the eighth
Clevelands metro area public transit most affordable of the 50 largest US
Clevelands metro ranks above average in both its city cities.
area public transit commuter rates (#14) and in its
ranks above regional transit ridership (#21). Summary/Next Steps
average in both its About 8.3 percent of Clevelanders Cleveland started a Sustainability
ride public transit, and just over 4 Program within its water depart-
city commuter rates percent walk to work. Biking to ment in 2005. The program, which
(#14) and in its work is almost nonexistent, at 0.1 was staffed with one person at the
regional transit percent. The carpooling rate, at 11.7 time of our survey, is responsible for
ridership (#21). percent, is higher than average. Still, developing alternative fuels in the
more than 72 percent of residents city fleet and investigating the use
drive alone to work, a higher rate of renewable energy. The successful
than, for example, Los Angeless 70 growth in green building appears to
percent. Despite this, Clevelands be a partial result of the programs
metro area remains the least traffic- incentives and guidance.
congested city in our study. If it wants to move faster
toward sustainability, there are a
Economic Factors number of actions Cleveland can
Industry in Cleveland still conforms take. To complement its ongoing
to a typical Rustbelt profile: chemi- urban historic district redevelop-
cal and food processing; some steel, ment, Cleveland might consider
electrical products and auto parts encouraging the development of
manufacturing; and printing and more parks, farmers markets and
publishing. Other economic oppor- clean technology businesses.
tunities include the citys newer
status as a regional and national
tourist attraction. In addition to the
lakefront, the city is known for the

110 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Miami, Florida
Gateway of the Americas

M iami seems to face away from

North America in more ways
than one. Nearly 75 percent of its
residents speak something other
than English at home. There are
numerous expat and immigrant
enclaves Hispanic, Caribbean,
French, Finnish, South African,
Turkish, Russian, Jewish and others.
Add to this some affluent northeast-
erners in search of sunbelt, and you
get a peculiar, vibrant mlange of
Multinational businesses head-
quarter their Latin American
operations in Miami, where plenty
of international financial transactions
take place. But economics goes one
way, nature another. precarious the citys history and cur-
Behind its bejeweled seaside rent existence is in The Swamp: the
faade, a sprawling city maintains a Everglades, Florida and the Politics
precarious foothold on the edge of of Paradise.
the Everglades swamp. This vast
sheet of slow-draining wetland is Healthy Living
the subject of an anxious public The citys traditional selling points
works effort one of the most sunshine, leisure, beach
extensive in the nation to urge parties are helping to fuel a phe-
water along networks of canals and nomenal real estate boom. Luxury
levees so that the swamp doesnt towers with brand names like
swell into floodplain. Indeed, Trump are multiplying in Miami
Miami, sandwiched between two so many that maxed-out contractors
intensely active hurricane regions, is are turning clients away. By some
more vulnerable to natural disaster estimates, 40,000 new condo units
than any other city in our study. are on their way. And buyers are
Michael Grunwald chronicles how lining up.

Miami, FL | 111
Who could blame them? With very little of it seems to strive for
its oceanfront locale and open skies, LEED standards. LEED guidance
Miami can boast a superior quality informs not just how efficiently a
of life. Its air quality ranks #7 in our building works during its lifespan,
study. Its tap water is decent overall but also how its initial construction
(#22). But testing this water reveals proceeds. So far, there are no indica-
an unhealthy level of selenium. tions that the thousands of condo
Selenium is persistent in areas and office units being added each
denuded by sprawl or too much year are green.
industry, and new urban develop- There are some efforts to seed
ments may further tax Miamis green building here, though. For
aquifer. South Florida residents instance, a nonprofit called Florida
already use more water per person Green Housing funds low-income
than any other city in the nation. residential construction that adheres
Meanwhile, there seems to be to standards of sustainability. And
With its oceanfront low priority given to improving sus- in early 2006, Miami hosted a con-
locale and open tainable basics like local food ference on sustainable building,
Miami ranks #45 in the food and Tropical Green, that received major
skies, Miami can agriculture category. Miami is also accolades. If these efforts dont
boast a superior behind the curve in parkland (#40). influence the current construction
quality of life. boom, which some fear is a bubble,
Getting Around there may not be capital left over to
Miami has a good public transporta- go green when the dust settles and
tion system, with city ridership air-conditioning energy costs sky-
ranking #13 in our study. Rail and rocket.
bus serve the city and its outlying
metro area, and downtown boasts Summary/Next Steps
an automated people-mover (much Miami receives high marks for
like the short rail circuits at air- superior air quality and decent
ports), with arrivals every 90 transit options, but has an unfo-
seconds during peak usage. About cused approach to sustainability.
11 percent of Miami residents carpool, Known as the Gateway of the
an average figure in our study, while Americas, it has an opportunity to
city road and highway congestion set the example for Latin and South
ranks #35, due in part to the nations American development. Currently,
least-dense office distribution. the city is developing a luxury sky-
Business space is not concentrated line, despite the fact it fronts the
in downtown proper or even at the coast of the most dangerous hurri-
edge of the city; people drive farther cane zone in the nation. If Miami
in all directions to get to work, wishes to make a statement about
which means a trend toward more the future of the Americas, it might
roadways and highways. consider developing a comprehen-
sive sustainability plan now to
Economic Factors better shape the current transforma-
Miami comes in at #33 for green tion of its urban space.
building. For all the new construction,

112 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Long Beach, California
A Sea of Opportunities

O f course, Long Beach is more

than a port: Its a major city in
its own right, with a population
(500,000) larger than that of Atlanta
or Cleveland. But the ports shadow
on the city is significant, adversely
affecting both air and water quality.
The city of Long Beach and the state
of California have been working
intensely with the port to make its
operations cleaner and more sus-
tainable. With so many people living
so close to such a major source of air
pollution ships typically burn a rel-
atively unclean type of diesel fuel
Long Beachs green port initiatives
are an important step toward mak-
ing the city as livable as its more
upscale coastal neighbors. In 2006, the Port of Long Beach
began a six-year, $2.5 million tree-
Healthy Living planting effort, which will help
Long Beach is tied for last in air provide more oxygen, reduce tem-
quality. Like Los Angeles, Long peratures, and help prevent polluted
Beach gets air pollution from the water from running off into the
Santa Ana winds blowing from ocean.
inland, but because of the ship traf- The tap water quality in this
fic, it also gets polluted air from the city rates much higher than that of
sea. One ship can produce as much nearby Los Angeles, coming in at
pollution as 12,000 cars. The city #20. The city gets a fair amount
and port are working with shipping from local underground aquifers and
companies, most of them based out- the ocean, with one of the nations
side the United States, to use largest desalinization plants. Tap
less-polluting fuels and electric gen- water includes 13 contaminants, 2
erators, as Seattles port is doing of which are over the recommended
with some shipping lines. threshold.

Long Beach, CA | 113

Long Beach ranks #21 in per- city fleet (with 18 percent using
cent of park acreage, and the city alternative fuels) presents possibili-
has four farmers markets for fresh ties for boosting local clean tech
local produce. industries through pilot programs.
What the city lacks, however, is
Getting Around a focused effort to collaborate with
Part of the L.A. Basin, Long Beach federal research agencies or non-
is entangled in the most congested governmental organizations on the
roadway and freeway system in the development of innovative, sustain-
country. All those semi trucks leav- able economic development
ing the port dont help matters. programs or projects.
Over 76 percent of Long Beach resi-
dents drive alone to work, Summary/Next Steps
compared to LAs 70.6 percent. Long Beachs efforts to limit the
The city is hard-pressed to come environmental impacts of its port
up with a solution to increase public are important. A next step might
transit ridership above its current be to create an overall plan for
7.5 percent rate. Redeveloping more sustainability. Creating green
walkable neighborhoods and busi- building incentives and a green-
ness districts would help relieve house gas reduction plan, for
traffic problems, as would any city- example, would put the city on par
sponsored carpooling or carsharing with most other leading West Coast
programs. port cities, and Seattle, Portland and
San Francisco could all offer good
Economic Factors models. The citys port location
Long Beach has some elements of a makes it a natural for clean tech
green economy in place, including 4 manufacturing incubation that could
percent renewable energy and a create local jobs and reduce the air
slightly above-average ranking (#23) pollutants Long Beach residents
for green buildings. A sizeable green now breathe.


Port of Long Beach with

downtown skyline. The city
faces urgent challenges from
the port's numerous sources
of air pollution.

114 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
El Paso, Texas
Bordering on Sustainability

E l Pasos first century was based

on booming mining and miner-
als processing, but for the past 30
years, downtown El Paso has been
marked by a downhill slide in eco-
nomics and quality of life. Now the
city is undertaking a Downtown
Plan to revitalize its city center.
Youll find much to like in El
Paso. In addition to its unique bi-
national culture, the city is
affordable, features many parks and
has a moderate climate for much of
the year, at almost 4,000 feet in the
high desert near the Franklin
Mountains. A renewed Plaza
Theater and several downtown
museums, part of the Bi-National
Arts Walk, are soon to be joined, by farmers markets and 12 community
a mixed-use business and residential gardens.
neighborhood. Open-air plazas, a The citys 175 parks are an area
key cultural attraction in Latin of particular civic strength El
America and the Southwest, are also Paso uses 16.5 percent of its land
poised for a comeback. for parks, placing it at #6. The
Franklin Mountains State Park is
Healthy Living one of the largest urban parks in the
El Pasos air quality ranks #32 out nation, at 24,000 acres. You can
of the largest 50 US cities. Tap enjoy rock climbing and 118 miles
water comes from local aquifers and of trails for horseback riding, hiking
the Rio Grande. Drinking water and mountain biking.
quality is ranked #14 it contains
20 contaminants, including 2 that Getting Around
exceed the EPAs recommended The city ranks #32 in commuting,
threshold. The city ranks #30 for with less than 3 percent riding pub-
local food and agriculture, with 5 lic transit to work and under 4

El Paso, TX | 115
percent walking or biking to work. historic preservation efforts. The
About 77 percent of El Pasos resi- citys historic district has great
dents drive by themselves to work, potential as a neighborhood with a
which is above the national average. distinct cultural identity, which
Less than 4 percent bike or walk to should be appealing to shoppers,
work. residents and tourists.
Because of El Pasos sunny
Economic Factors high-desert elevation, solar and
El Paso is affordable (#3) and has wind energy could be good
El Paso is making
little need to fear major natural dis- industries to attract for both local
the transition from asters (#3), despite the downtown energy production and for regional
dirtier mining and flooding that occurred in mid-2006. export.
metals processing The city is making the transition The citys proximity to Ciudad
industries to from dirtier mining and metals pro- Juarez helps the metro area form
cessing industries to cleaner the largest community on the US-
cleaner industries. industries. The largest employers are Mexico border, with 2.5 million in
the military, the US government (the combined population. Officials from
Department of Customs and the Drug both cities have an opportunity to
Enforcement Agency), schools, call collaboratively address shared envi-
centers and textile manufacturers. ronmental issues relating to air and
For green (LEED) building, El water quality, in addition to regional
Paso ranks #36, with 3 LEED transportation. A model for such
Registered buildings as of the first planning includes cross-border col-
quarter of 2006. laboration in San Diego and its
southern neighbor, Tijuana, with the
Summary/Next Steps San Diego Dialogue and El Colegio
A much more extensive public tran- de la Frontera Norte.
sit system would help El Paso take
advantage of its urban redesign and

116 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
New Orleans, Louisiana
Resiliently Facing the Future

K atrina demonstrates the role nat-

ural disaster risk plays in a
citys sustainability: Nobody knows
quite what the citys future holds.
Will the estimated half of the citys
population displaced by the hurri-
cane return? Can it shore up its
levee system enough in advance of
future storms? Will businesses relo-
cate in the beleaguered city?
What is known is that the city
is resiliently looking to its future.
New Orleans city officials, who have
collaborated with SustainLane to
provide data for this study in the
wake of Katrina, recognize the
importance of sustainability and
environmental management. These
will be important considerations as promote economic development,
the city builds for its future: New and clean up the environment.
Orleans is situated below sea level These remain issues the city has an
on a Mississippi River Delta flood- opportunity to address.
plain. While the following statistics
draw on pre-Katrina New Orleans Healthy Living
(except where noted), we intend While it may be hot and humid, the
them to serve as helpful reference air quality in New Orleans is very
points that support the citys good, ranking #6, though residents
rebuilding. should be mindful of the mold, con-
The principles of sustainability taminants in the soil, and food
are not new to New Orleans. By contamination caused by 2005s
2001, New Orleans business, civic Katrina flooding. Tap water quality
and social leaders had already was not included in the city water
started developing a long-term quality database SustainLane used
process called Top Ten by 2010 that for ranking purposes (the
aspired to increase social equity, Environmental Working Groups

New Orleans, LA | 117

2005 database), but the Natural Orleanss future economy: Will
Resource Defense Council did rate tourists return in large numbers?
New Orleans tap water quality as Will small businesses return? Will
good in a 2001 national study. In another hurricane hit? The first two
From the cane- May 2006, the state Health questions are impossible to answer
chaired vintage Department said water was safe to until the city rebuilds. In regard to
drink in the Ninth Ward, which the third question, the city ranks
streetcars of the received the heaviest flood damage. #49 for natural disaster risk (only
Garden District to New Orleans ranks #33 for local Miami has a greater risk rating), so
the inexpensive food and agriculture, with 4 farm- substantial efforts must go into
ferries of Algiers, ers markets and 54 community building new levees and pumping
gardens pre-Katrina. As of May facilities for it to avoid a repeat of
New Orleans 2006, two of the four farmers mar- Katrina.
features charming kets were open, and 22 community
and well- gardens had been restored and Summary/Next Steps
maintained public planted, according to Parkway New Orleans is a challenged city
Partners, the largest privately that must turn to sustainable
transit options. funded neighborhood gardens proj- approaches to ensure its survival.
ect in the nation. Doing so may well involve drawing
upon lessons from the Dutch
Getting Around who have successfully lived below
From the cane-chaired vintage sea level for hundreds of years
streetcars of the Garden District to and upon the best knowledge in
the inexpensive ferries of Algiers, environmental land and water man-
New Orleans features charming and agement practices.
well-maintained public transit The citys first priority is to cre-
options. It ranks #16 for commuting ate a secure situation for itself. This
overall, with just under 12 percent will involve plenty of pumps and
commuting by public transit. Road levee engineering. New Orleans and
and freeway congestion (#6) is not the state of Louisiana also have an
much of an issue for drivers in the opportunity to build up the delta
metro region. with reclaimed barrier islands,
marshes, ridges and wetlands,
Economic Factors which would provide protection
New Orleans and re-elected Mayor against future hurricanes. The
Ray Nagin face tough questions Pontchartrain Coastal Lines of
about how to redevelop its eco- Defense Program is designed to do
nomic base following Hurricane just that. This comprehensive plan
Katrina. There are competing offers an ecological and economic
visions for the citys future, and sig- solution for the decades-long loss of
nificant conflicts, such as whether coastal buffer zone due to coastal
the lowest-lying neighborhoods, development and the Army Corps of
including the Ninth Ward, should be Engineers artificial channeling of
redeveloped at all. the Mississippi, which has sent sedi-
Three key questions are likely to ment out to sea instead of across
determine the shape of New the rivers flood plain.

118 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Fresno, California
Natures Bounty

B eyond the major beef and dairy

produced, fruit and vegetables
of almost every sort are grown in the
San Joaquin Valley, which produces
more than 250 types of commercial
crops. If youre eating produce right
now, theres a good chance it came
through Fresno.
Immigrants and migrant workers
from countries all over the globe
convene in Fresno, giving it a great
diversity of people, food and cultural
activities. Cultures vary from Hmong
(11 percent of the population) to
Latino (40 percent) to communities
of Armenian and Ukrainian descent.
If youre a nature enthusiast,
youll appreciate Fresnos proximity
to some of the nations most famous and vegetables, including baskets of
national parks. Its a perfect base for pesticide-free local strawberries.
visiting Yosemite, Sequoia, and The water quality in Fresno is
Kings Canyon. questionable, with 31 contaminants,
3 of which are over the recommended
Healthy Living limit (#24). Because Fresno sits at
In an area with so much food grown the bottom of a valley backed up
locally, you might expect a potpourri against the Sierra in the west and
of farmers markets scattered across the Tehachapi Mountains to the
the city. There are, in fact, only 3 south, polluted air from Los Angeles
farmers markets and 15 community and the whole Central Valley
gardens. There is a unique gardening which can be heavily contaminated
center, the Mokichi Okada Center, that with pesticides from industrial agri-
farms according to strict standards culture and ground-level ozone
of purity. In addition to Japanese tea dairy methane emissions get
ceremonies and flower arranging, the pushed over to Fresno (#43 in air
center has orchards and sells fruits quality). The city has numerous air

Fresno, CA | 119
quality warning days during the cattle, tomatoes, milk, plums, oranges,
summer, when temperatures can tangerines and peaches. More jobs
reach the 100s. are tied to agriculture than to any
With air pollution worsening in other industry in Fresno, which has
the San Joaquin Valley, in 2005 the recently seen the emergence of a
valleys Air District passed a $780 large processing industry.
Once neglected, development fee on all new homes With a diverse bounty of locally
downtown Fresno being built. Developers can reduce grown food that employs such a
the fee by adding sidewalks, bike large percentage of the population,
has seen significant lanes, landscaping and energy- Fresno has a head start toward
growth and private efficient appliances. Such a step becoming a truly sustainable com-
investment since could help protect the city from the munity. Unfortunately, most of the
the 1990s. valleys worrisome air pollution, agricultural jobs are not very stable
which some predict will soon surpass or high-paying, and most of the
that of even the Los Angeles Basin. food leaves the area to be distrib-
uted around the world.
Getting Around The city offers some incentives
Once neglected, downtown Fresno for green building, but LEED build-
has seen significant growth and pri- ings are scarce (#38). Renewable
vate investment since the 1990s. energy used in the citys energy mix
Several of the old neighborhoods are includes solar and geothermal.
now restored, vital communities.
The Tower District, for example, has Summary/Next Steps
been transformed into a vibrant, Fresno is faced with a conundrum.
culturally diverse area of shops, Its sited near natural wonders, but
homes, restaurants, nightclubs and citizens have few of their own parks.
bookstores. At the same time, the Tremendous amounts of locally pro-
city continues to grow outward, duced agriculture abound, yet there
encouraging auto travel and provid- are only three farmers markets.
ing little public transportation. Agriculture brings in billions to the
Only 3 percent of the population local economy, yet the air and water
use public transit to commute to can be polluted with pesticides and
work, and another 3 percent walk diesel emissions from tractors and
or ride a bike. With 77 percent driv- trucks. The downtown is strengthen-
ing alone and 12 percent carpooling, ing, but there is continued sprawl.
the city ranks #26 in commuting Fortunately, with natures
and #46 in metro public transit rid- bounty so near, Fresno has a great
ership. On a brighter note, the city opportunity to quickly become more
vehicle fleet has more than 13 per- sustainable. Fresno can readily tap
cent alternative-fueled vehicles. its locally grown food supply,
including small farms producing
Economic Factors organics, which dont pollute air and
Agriculture is the backbone of the water with pesticides. Developing
Fresno economy, providing more more parks and public transit would
than $3.5 billion dollars annually. be another way to keep people in
Major crops include grapes, cotton, town and reduce pollution.

120 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Charlotte, North Carolina
New Alternatives in the Pipeline

C harlotte is one of the fastest-

growing cities in the United
States. This growth includes large
subdivisions emerging on the edges
of town. At the same time, the state,
county and city government, along
with many residents, have recognized
the importance of limiting sprawl by
using smart growth. The ideas
behind smart growth are to increase
public transportation, improve air
quality, and encourage infill in the
core of the city.
As in so many other US cities,
downtown Charlotte declined as the
suburbs grew. Thats changing as
public and private funding starts to
reach older neighborhoods. From
warehouse districts like South End, tap water (#27) has 15 contami-
which was converted into residential nants, 4 of which exceed the
lofts, restaurants and shops, to his- recommended limit, and the air
toric preservation projects like quality (#37) is poor. Both of these
Myers Park (the first suburb served concerns are at the forefront of
by streetcars), the center of the city smart growth impacts. The
is being transformed. Its now home Environmental Leadership Policy for
to a vibrant mix of young profes- Mecklenburg County highlights air
sionals, artists, empty nesters and quality as the most urgent environ-
the well-to-do. This trend coincides mental concern. They also recognize
with an effort to increase public that air quality is part of a larger
transportation across the metro growth management issue.
region in Mecklenburg County. Many city officials are starting
to realize that negative ecological
Healthy Living feedback loops might actually hurt
In both air and water quality, development. An April 2006 article
Charlotte receives low scores. The in The Charlotte Observer noted

Charlotte, NC | 121
that more development means economy, several exciting trends are
more pavement, which increases emerging. City officials are ready to
dirty runoff, which hurts water help developers with projects in the
quality, which ultimately hinders city core, especially in infill areas
development. and along transit corridors, with
Local produce is not one of the only one catch: They must score
primary areas targeted in any of the high enough on the citys sustain-
smart growth plans. The city has 4 ability index, which promotes smart
farmers markets. Its 17 community growth. Although the criteria are
gardens demonstrate some aware- vague and are not officially green
ness of the economic and health building incentives, the requirement
benefits of local food production. is evidence that the city is beginning
to design sustainable development
Getting Around approaches.
Continued sprawl has led to a heavy At present, the city does not
In 1998, a voter- dependence on auto travel in have renewable energy sources in its
approved half-cent Charlotte; 76 percent of the popula- energy mix. One organization pro-
sales tax enabled tion drives to work alone. Mayor Pat moting renewable energy in North
the city to improve McCrory has been trying to influ- Carolina, NC Green Power, is an
ence such habits for more than ten independent nonprofit organization
and expand bus years. In 1998, a voter-approved established to improve North
service. Since then, half-cent sales tax enabled the city Carolinas environment through vol-
bus ridership has to improve and expand bus service. untary contributions to renewable
increased by 50 Since then, bus ridership has energy including wind, water, solar
increased by 50 percent, with many and organic matter. In one of its
percent, of the new riders coming from the programs, NC Green Power pro-
suburbs or exurbs. motes green-powered events such as
Mayor McCrory has also cham- church functions, conferences, par-
pioned light rail, which is scheduled ties, weddings, concerts and
to begin service in 2007. festivals.
Development has already begun on
the light rail hubs, with wide side- Summary/Next Steps
walks to encourage foot traffic. Charlotte has only just begun to
Eight of the stations will be pedes- address sprawl and its byproducts.
trian-friendly; seven will have a Many of the citys smart growth
large public park-and-ride bus. As of projects are either in planning
2004, only 3.5 percent of the popu- phases or mere infancy, and are
lation commuted to work on public focusing on getting the many com-
transit. New alternatives in the munities throughout the metro region
pipeline and support from public to agree on shared priorities. The
officials are likely to boost that Environmental Leadership Policy
number. team has been assembled to address
energy conservation, recycling,
Economic Factors low-emission vehicles, land preser-
Although it doesnt look like Charlotte vation and environmentally
has a very strong sustainable sensitive design.

122 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
The projects and initiatives such efforts to include renewable
beginning to emerge in public tran- energy and local food supply,
sit and development are signs that Charlotte can make strides toward Downtown Charlotte: jogging
Charlotte is poised to make itself a that goal. toward a less car-dependent
more sustainable city. By broadening future?

Charlotte, NC | 123
124 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Louisville, Kentucky
City of Parks

M ayor Jerry Abramson, who

enjoys tremendous support
from the community (informally,
hes known as Mayor for Life), has
championed projects that support
parks, local food and healthy living.
Hes worked hard to create strong
neighborhoods and support local
businesses. Over his tenure hes
the longest-standing mayor in
Louisvilles history hes overseen
the revitalization of downtown with
waterfront parks, historic preserva-
tion districts and small local
businesses and restaurants.

Healthy Living
Locals are fortunate to have excel-
lent water quality (ranked #3), markets, there are more than 30
coming primarily from a local other local food markets.
source, the Ohio River. Louisville ranks #35 in park-
The Mayors Healthy Hometown land, with 122 parks covering
Movement is a novel program that 14,000 acres, including three large
aspires to increase the number of parks and several smaller parks
people in the city who exercise reg- designed by 19th-century park
ularly and eat a healthy diet. Among visionary Frederick Law Olmsted. A
other things, the program promotes new initiative called City of Parks
farmers markets. The city has two should improve Louisvilles ranking
farmers markets that meet the defi- by creating thousands of acres of
nition set by the USDA, which parks and paths in areas where land
requires that goods are produced or is rapidly being developed into sub-
grown locally and sold by the pri- divisions and shopping centers. The
mary producer or somebody who project will also connect the water-
works with the primary producer. In front with many other parks in the
addition to the two official farmers city, including those designed by

Louisville, KY | 125
Olmsted. Ultimately, walkways with waste (ranking #9), one of the
biking and hiking trails will create a higher rates in the Eastern US.
loop around the entire county (the There are no commercial or res-
City of Louisville and County of idential green building incentives.
Jefferson became one entity through However, according to an article in
a merger in 1994). Business First, a local business jour-
nal, architects and clients in Louisville
Getting Around are embracing green principles such
At #44 in commute to work and #41 as energy efficiency, effective site
in regional public transportation, its orientation and recycled materials,
clear that Louisville residents are with an overall goal to reduce natu-
attached to auto travel. In fact, 82 ral resource consumption.
percent of the population commutes
A forward-thinking to work alone in a car; 4 percent Summary/Next Steps
mayor and use public transit. A motorized trol- A forward-thinking mayor and
proactive local ley, the Toonerville II Trolley, ambles proactive local community are push-
through ing Louisville toward a more
community are downtown. sustainable future. A commitment
pushing Louisville toward sustainability can be seen in
toward a more Economic Factors the enthusiasm for a local food sup-
sustainable future. The Partnership for a Green ply, plans for more parks, a high
Community, a formal collaborative rate of waste diversion and a collab-
effort between Louisville Metro, the orative citywide project to educate
University of Louisville and Jefferson and design projects incorporating
County public schools focuses on healthier approaches for people and
environmental management, the economy.
environmental education and envi- The primary way that Louisville
ronmental health issues. The goal is can strengthen its commitment to
to create a greener, more sustainable sustainability is by developing pub-
community. The three partners lic transportation options, making it
employ 26,000 people, enroll 120,000 easier for people to get around with-
students, and own more than 500 out driving their cars. It also has to
buildings, 7,000 vehicles, and 25,000 contend with sprawl, and has an
acres of land. The partnership opportunity to create a healthier
focuses on policy to address renew- environment by investing in renew-
able energy, conservation, recycling, able energy sources and creating
air pollution and other related incentives for green building and
issues. However, while this program green businesses.
encourages renewable energy, the
city does not currently draw energy
from renewable sources.
An extensive recycling and com-
posting program has helped
Louisville divert 46 percent of its

126 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Jacksonville, Florida
Thinking Ahead

R oad, river and rail meet the

Atlantic at Jacksonville, Florida,
which is host to a deepwater port
and myriad transportation services.
Jacksonville harbors freighters des-
tined for Europe, South America and
the Caribbean. Its also a national
gateway for automobile shipping.
Without much fanfare, Jacksonville
is preparing for its financial future
by gathering skilled professionals
and Fortune 500 companies under
its sign, including major insurance
and banking concerns.
The citys business acumen has-
nt come at the expense of its misty
Southern charm. The ancient St.
Johns River slides through the citys
bulk, and a peculiar mossy drip which is curious, considering the
infests the giant oaks. Framing these regions year-round growing climate
gothic scenes is a bustling modern and plentiful, clean water supply.
infrastructure. The city has only two farmers mar-
kets and 19 community gardens,
Healthy Living putting it at #42 for local food and
Jacksonville has plenty of potential agriculture.
for healthy living: It has clean water
(#9) from a deep underground aquifer Getting Around
and relatively healthy air (#19), with In terms of its physical dimensions,
no violations of EPA Clean Air Act Jacksonville has the largest city size
standards. Jacksonville also ranks bet- in the nation. Nearly 800,000 people
ter than average in park acreage (#20) make their homes in the sprawling
over 9 percent of the citys sprawl- city, scattered over 800 square
ing land is set aside for recreation. miles. Over 80 percent drive alone
But the city lacks a reliable to work. Whats more, recent trends
source of local food and agriculture, indicate that more people are

Jacksonville, FL | 127
Automated Skyway Express, commuting between rather than To improve this situation, the
Jacksonvilles downtown within counties in Northeastern Jacksonville Transportation
peoplemover. Florida the average commute is Authority is reviewing a wider menu
getting longer. for city transit, including ferries on
The city offers some alternatives the St. Johns the same waterway
to driving. An elevated rail system that over the decades has prompted
with 2.5 miles of track serves the the construction of five bridges for
downtown core, shuttling riders back motor traffic. Another possibility
and forth across the river within a involves new diesel-powered com-
small circuit. Bus routes handle the muter trains that would run on
rest. Less than 2 percent of com- existing freight rails. Meanwhile, a
muters use public transportation, one major transportation station is being
of the lower scores out of the 50 planned that will connect the cur-
largest US cities. rent elevated rail system to city

128 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
buses, intercity Amtrak lines, and The city is vulnerable to both
Greyhound buses. Perhaps with hurricanes and flooding, ranking
these improvements, Jacksonville #32 for natural disaster risk.
can provide for residents and
tourists the same flexible mobility it Summary/Next Steps
currently affords international cargo. Each year, the Jacksonville
Community Council (JCCI)
Economic Factors addresses specific problems con- Jacksonville is
Jacksonville is among the more fronting the city through study among the more
affordable cities (#16) in our study. groups. Any citizen can volunteer to
affordable cities
It also benefits from top-notch participate in the groups, whose
organizations that aim to make findings are published by the coun- (#16) in our study.
housing more affordable for disad- cil and publicized by advocacy It also benefits
vantaged groups. Neighborhood programs. Since the early 1990s, the from top-notch
Housing Services of Jacksonville, for JCCI has been producing an annual
organizations that
instance, facilitates loans and grants Quality of Life Progress Report to
to revitalize Springfield, a large assay the overall health of the city aim to make
neighborhood north of downtown. in terms of economics, education, housing more
Many of these loans help low-income environment, social equality, mobility affordable for
households buy and remodel his- and the arts. disadvantaged
toric wood-frame houses, thus The JCCI programs serve as a
ensuring that neighborhood rescue national model of citizen-powered, groups.
doesnt automatically mean dis- forward-thinking examination of
placement through gentrification. local problems. (The explicit inclu-
In a similar vein, Habitat for sion of energy conservation and
Humanity has been very active in other indicators of sustainability
Jacksonville, constructing houses for would make the efforts even more
low-income families; the promising.) While Jacksonville may
Jacksonville program is Habitats currently lag behind in our study, it
largest in the country, and it has already has a brain trust in place. If
garnered specific praise from the US it can channel the indicators of the
Department of Housing and Urban JCCI into city programs, policies and
Development. Like most southeast- practices, Jacksonville might quickly
ern cities (Atlanta is the exception), climb the ranks of the nations
Jacksonville shows little evidence of green cities.
green building (#41).

Jacksonville, FL | 129
130 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Omaha, Nebraska
Encouraging Signs in the Heartland

O maha lies almost smack dab in

the center of the country, sur-
rounded by cropland seeded on
former prairie. The birthplace of TV
dinners, Gerald Ford and Malcolm X
features a local industry based on
banking and insurance, food pro-
cessing, construction, and
On the weekends, locals gather
in Old Market, the arts and enter-
tainment district, and on hot
summer evenings youll find folks
strolling along the 31-acre Heartland
of America Park, which fronts the
Missouri River. The city is typically
Midwestern: sedate, welcoming and
predominantly suburban.
Getting Around
Healthy Living Though Omaha is not nearly as
Omahas water ranks #33, with 26 sprawling as most cities in our study,
contaminants, 4 of which exceed you do need a car to get around
the EPAs recommended limits, easily. The citys Metro Area Transit
but its air isnt so bad at #16. The takes less than 2 percent of the citys
city has plenty of parks, covering residents to work each day, with 81
11 percent of the city area, including percent of commuters driving alone.
80 miles of trails. The city ranks Two key advocacy, education and
#29 in food and agriculture with a planning groups, Omaha by Design
farmers market downtown that and the Joslyn Castle Institute, are
offers local produce, crafts and actively promoting green solutions
meat. The Buy Fresh, Buy Local for the city, including more bicycle
campaign connects Nebraskans to paths and trails, healthy lifestyles
local farmers, helping to build a and urban revitalization, such as
sense of community around local mixed-use development that reduces
food producers. reliance on cars.

Omaha, NE | 131
Economic Factors (Omaha was not officially ranked in
Omahas economy isnt currently energy because city government
very green, but there are visions for officials did not complete our
making it greener. The revitalization survey.)
of downtown has been a good first
step. The current plan embraced by Summary/Next Steps
the mayor and Planning Department Omaha has some programs that
The Omaha Public
aspires to bring together public and promise to accelerate its efforts to
Power District private investment and philan- become more sustainable. Omahas
derives 10 thropic contributions focusing on urban revitalization, commitment to
megawatts of landscape, environment, design park space, and recent expansion of
guidelines, public art, building renewable energy reveal its focus on
energy from
preservation, and the creation of creating a healthier environment for
renewable sources, new, walkable neighborhoods as the its citizens right in line with its
including a wind city grows. pragmatic Midwestern values.
turbine generator The Joslyn Castle Institute is The city has reportedly been
and landfill trying to establish the Nebraska rewriting building guidelines to
Center for Sustainable Construction incorporate the recommendations of
gas-to-energy plant. to support deconstruction and sal- Omaha by Design, another positive
vage as an alternative to demolition. sign for residents. Continuing to sup-
Omaha ranks #22 for green building; port renewable energy and creating
the National Park Service Midwest more public transit options per-
Regional Headquarters was the first haps with light rail could help
LEED Certified project in Nebraska. catapult the city upward in future
The Omaha Public Power rankings.
District derives 10 megawatts of
energy from renewable sources,
including a wind turbine generator
and landfill gas-to-energy plant.

132 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Atlanta, Georgia
Inland Port Takes Baby Steps

A tlanta gets high marks for green

building indeed, its a
national showcase for sustainable
architecture but in most other
areas it appears burdened with
industrial consequences.
Atlantas airport is the busiest
in the world. Founded as a rail ter-
minus its first name was
Terminus the city has always
been important to transit and indus-
try. When Union forces marched on
Atlanta in 1864, they were attacking
the logistics hub of the Confederate
Army. Today, Atlanta is a foreign
trade zone imports can speed
directly from the coast to US
Customs in Atlanta. More freight
than ever converges on the rail cen- vehicles idling in traffic contribute
ter of the South, where goods are to the citys low air-quality ranking
sorted, re-sorted, and sent along to (#39). Atlanta is among the lowest-
oceans and skies beyond. ranked cities nationwide in terms of
Thanks in part to the 1996 particulate pollution (soot), and it
Olympic Games, Atlantas commer- also has ample ozone pollution
cial identity has prospered along (smog).
with its importance as a waypoint in Thats not news to anyone in
the global economy. People continue the area who drives to work
to move here in droves: Atlanta through the haze. Emergency rooms
metro has the fastest-growing see a spike in asthma cases during
sprawl in the nation. the summer smog season. In recent
years, since the EPA downgraded
Healthy Living the air pollution in Atlanta from
All of the coming and going takes serious to severe, the city has
its toll on the citys air. The power improved its air quality slightly. The
plants firing coal for the grid and citys tap water ranks #39.

Atlanta, GA | 133
Atlanta has been slow to scores low in terms of parkland,
develop local food networks. There with less than 4 percent of the city
is some general demand for organics devoted to recreational green space.
Whole Foods has landed at sev-
eral locations in Atlanta but Getting Around
Sprawl induced traffic and community-supported agriculture Traffic in Atlanta is average for an
air quality problems are and farmers markets are scarce, American city. Long hauls to and
endemic to the Atlanta metro and the city ranks #39 in overall from the surrounding metro area are
region. local food and agriculture. It also reportedly more affected than move-
ment within the city. Over 12
percent of citizens use the subway
and buses run by the city, which
places Atlanta ahead of the curve
for public transit (#10). Whats
more, the buses run on compressed
natural gas. But theres minimal
push for a comprehensive transit
system that reshapes land use. Most
plans to enhance public transit
focus on building up the commuter
rail service using existing freight
railroad lines.

Economic Factors
Atlanta is embracing clean technolo-
gies at street level, with more LEED
Certified buildings than anywhere
else in the South. Atlanta ranks first
in terms of green building initia-
tives. The city boasts the first
Gold-certified LEED building in the
Southeast and is on track to enjoy
bragging rights for the regions first
Platinum certification. A cluster of
LEED buildings is going up in mid-
town Atlanta. One of those
buildings houses a Georgia Tech
business school program and has
garnered praise from the US Green

Building Council.
Some of the expansions under-
way at Atlantas world-class airport
will reflect green building tech-
niques inspired by LEED. In fact,
Atlanta requires all new and reno-
vated city-funded structures over a

134 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
certain size or cost to rate at least Atlanta is already rife with ideas
silver on the LEED scale. The Green for sustainability, with nonprofits
Building Council, which authors the shouldering a lot of the work.
LEED standards, held its last annual Southface Energy, for instance, pro-
conference here. Take a bow, motes sustainable building
Atlanta. practices. It runs a resource center
in midtown Atlanta and has collab-
Summary/Next Steps orated with Oak Ridge National
The citys excellence in green build- Laboratory to showcase renewable
Atlanta is
ing suggests a willingness to energy and energy conservation
confront long-term environmental technologies for homeowners. embracing clean
issues, but the modest motto of Such forward thinking could technologies at
Atlantas Energy Conservation play a greater role in city planning street level, with
Program, A step towards sustain- and development. Instead of react- more LEED
ability, is all too accurate. Atlanta ing piecemeal to environmental and
would benefit by planning more health issues as they arise, Atlanta Certified buildings
boldly to translate its current eco- has an opportunity to confront sus- than anywhere else
nomic dynamism into a durable, tainability with the same tenacity in the South.
vital metropolitan center one that with which it positioned itself as a
not only thrives on the worldwide leader in the turbulent global ship-
circulation of commodities, but also ping industry.
addresses the vulnerabilities caused
by runaway sprawl.

Atlanta, GA | 135
136 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Houston, Texas
Moving Forward

I n SustainLanes 2005 US City

Rankings, which benchmarked 25
cities, Houston came in last place.
Citizens meetings, Internet bulletin
boards and local radio talk shows
were full of reactions to our analysis
many of them negative, all of
them impassioned. Locals said there
were things going on in sustainabil-
ity and environmental management
that we failed to acknowledge.
Part of the problem was that the
city didnt have anyone in place to
manage, measure or communicate
sustainability performance. Since
our rankings came out in June 2005,
Mayor Bill White appointed a
Director of Environmental
Programming to work across the Healthy Living
citys departments so Houstonians Air quality is a problem (#40), with
and others can find out whats a Clean Air Act violation in ozone
happening more easily. The city and a low overall day-to-day air
has also made some positive quality index rating consider
steps toward a more sustainable checking out the EPAs air quality
future. forecast for Houston before going
The public outcry and reaction out to play.
to our study demonstrate that the Water quality is also below par
city cares about building a better (#30), with 19 contaminants found,
future for its residents. Houston 4 of which are over the recom-
ranks #39 out of 50 cities this year. mended limit.
Up-and-coming green projects, ele- In terms of local food and agri-
ments of a clean tech incubator, and culture, the city ranks #44, with
affordable housing all augur a posi- only two farmers markets and 70
tive direction for the nations fourth community gardens unfortunate
largest city. tallies for a city of about 2 million

Houston, TX | 137
with a year-round growing climate. Houston has very affordable
Parks are not so easy to come by, housing (#13), but that doesnt stop
either. Only 5.7 percent of Houston developers and home buyers from
is covered in parkland, putting it in pushing beyond its sprawled outer
the bottom third of the 50 cities in limits, where new gated develop-
our study. ments continue to gobble up
everything from pine forests to
Getting Around wetlands.
Houstons public transit ridership Green buildings are on the rise
As previously dropped near the watershed 5 per- (#29) as the city attempts to recon-
mentioned, the city cent point in 2004 once it falls cile its helter-skelter development
has shown a below that point, people tend to for- approaches no zoning, little tran-
commitment to get that public transit is even an sit-oriented development with
option. City voters passed Metro sustainable building practices.
strengthening its Solutions in 2004, which will pro- Natural disaster risk (#43) is a
sustainability vide funds for a long-range serious issue for Houston, and the
performance by build-out of commuter rail, light rail adjacent Gulf of Mexico that
appointing a and better bus service. As of mid- spawned close-call Hurricane Rita in
2006, the added transit systems 2005 is forecast to be active over the
Director of were in the late planning stages. coming 10-20 year cycle.
Environmental With over 75 percent of
Programming. Houstonians driving alone to work, Summary/Next Steps
and under 2 percent walking or bik- International fossil fuel energy com-
ing to work, Metro Solutions comes panies experienced windfall profits
not a moment too soon. in 2006. The question is how much
of the economic success of these
Economic Factors global companies will trickle down
A fossil fuel energy boomtown, to improve overall quality of life in
Houston also performs relatively Houston, especially for lower-
well in sustainability-related eco- income residents and for those who
nomic ventures. The city gets about work in industries that arent reap-
2 percent of its energy from renew- ing extraordinary earnings. As
able sources, and features a clean previously mentioned, the city has
technology testing center aimed at shown a commitment to strengthen-
developing low-sulfur diesel in con- ing its sustainability performance
junction with the University of by appointing a Director of
Texas. In developing such a clean Environmental Programming.
tech venture, the city not only cre- Improving air quality, reducing
ates jobs in a next-generation roadway congestion (#44), and cre-
industry, it will also be able to apply ating sources for local food are all
the technology in its own market, opportunities to positively affect the
potentially helping to ease air pollu- quality of life for residents through-
tion problems. out Houston.

138 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Rich History. Clean Tech Future?

O riginally a cattle town in the

1880s, Tulsa was irrevocably
changed in 1901 when the first oil
gusher was struck in Spindletop,
Texas. The wealth that the oil indus-
try generated in both Texas and
Oklahoma guaranteed a rapid cul-
tural and developmental
transformation for the entire region.
By the 1920s, T-Town, as
musicians referred to it, was a hotbed
of jazz and blues. The art deco
buildings that still dot the Tulsa
landscape were part of the 1920s
building boom. The city continued
to thrive until the oil bust of the early
1980s. Tulsa is now once again an
important fossil fuel energy center
with very little commitment to less air and drinking water quality. Tulsa
cyclical, more sustainable living. ranks #25 in tap water quality and
There are some noteworthy commu- #16 in air quality. The citys
nity-based projects for locally Partners for a Clean Environment
produced food, but Tulsa has virtually program aims to reduce the use of
no public transportation and hazardous materials that pollute
remains an auto-dependent US city. Tulsas water, land and air.
Tulsa has only two official farm-
Healthy Living ers markets and seven community
Parks lining the Arkansas River are gardens, placing the city #34 in local
popular destinations for hiking, food and agriculture. One unique
fishing, kayaking, biking and more. food cooperative, however, provides
Despite this pleasant byway, Tulsa locally grown food to cities through-
ranks #32 for its city park acreage out Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Food
as a percentage of total city land. Cooperative distributes locally
Several municipal and nonprofit made, often-organic goods to
groups are working to improve both cities throughout Oklahoma. The

Tulsa, OK | 139
The Golden Driller, a sym- organization is now helping people to work on public transit. Almost
bol of the International throughout the region start locally four out of five residents drive to
Petroleum Exposition. grown food co-ops in their own work alone. Carshare and carpool
Dedicated to the men of the communities. programs help account for at least
petroleum industry who by some of the significant number of
their vision and daring have Getting Around people (11 percent) who carpool to
created from Gods abun- Tulsa ranks #35 in commuting and work. None of the city fleet vehicles
dance a better life for #48 in public transportation. Only 1.5 use alternative fuels.
mankind. inscription percent of the population commutes Many other cities in this study
have low public transit ridership.
However, most of those cities have
realized the importance of reversing
that trend and are in the process of
planning and implementing public
transit alternatives. Considering that
the nation may be facing higher gas
prices and significant gas supply
issues over the next years, Tulsa
could benefit from investigating
what those other cities are doing.

Economic Factors
Tulsa has a large city footprint com-
posed of communities with a lot of
personality, from art deco down-
town buildings to the jazzy
Greenwood Historical District, to the
affluent South Tulsa. Many of the
older neighborhoods have been
rehabilitated, and downtown is
thriving. Although its reputation as
an oil king is just a memory, other
industry continues to thrive. Tulsa is
an important business center, with
aerospace, telecom, high tech and
insurance. While the city core does
seem to be growing, theres little
action around sustainable develop-
ment approaches.
Tulsa is notable in that it has
one of the only city-affiliated clean
tech incubators in the nation. The
private, not-for-profit incubator i2E

helps homegrown technology

companies get started and grow. In
this way, i2E creates jobs and

140 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
renewable-energy or energy-efficient Meanwhile, Tulsa Area Clean
technologies that may be used in Cities is trying to bring renewable
Tulsa. Two Tulsa-based companies and sustainable energy to Tulsa
involved in this partnership are in an effort to increase local eco-
Excel Energy and LuXsine. Excel nomic opportunity and reduce oil
Energys technology system moni- dependency.
tors and helps users program and
more effectively limit energy con- Summary/Next Steps
sumption 24 hours a day, every day Like other lower-ranking cities with
of the year. LuXsine aims to dramat- very little infrastructure or planning
ically enhance solar energy for sustainable living, Tulsa has a Rowers on the Arkansas River
efficiencies. lot of work to do. What sets Tulsa in downtown Tulsa.

Tulsa, OK | 141
apart from those cities is that it has It might consider public transporta-
both for-profit and nonprofit groups tion, green building incentives for
that promote renewable energy. The commercial or residential building,
city would do well to tap into some creating an environmental depart-
of these local project innovators and ment, and developing a
make their important work more sustainability plan. Each of these
accessible to the larger community. mutually supportive elements could
Overall, Tulsa has a lot of oppor- help support better livability while
tunities to become more sustainable. reducing the economys vulnerability.

142 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Arlington, Texas
City at a Crossroads

A rlingtons come a long way

since being founded in 1875 as
a railroad stop between its larger
neighbors Dallas and Fort Worth. It
could use some rails today as it
faces the challenges of growing a
public transportation infrastructure
and the consequences of automo-
bile-induced sprawl development.
Fortunately, Arlington leaders and
members of the community have
already started to plan: In its 2025
Vision Plan, which identifies several
key areas for improvement, the need
to improve mobility made the short-
list, as did reducing poverty,
reversing declining home values and
preventing the loss of retail dollars
to surrounding communities. Getting Around
Since the last trolley ride in 1934,
Healthy Living Arlington has gone without a public
The city boasts high scores in water transportation system. Not surpris-
quality (#10) and housing affordabil- ingly, it ranks last in commuters
ity (#6). Despite heavy automobile use of public transportation. (Its
dependence, air quality is above ranking at #15 for regional public
average (#22), though road congestion transportation is a result of being in
(#40) is some of the nations worst. the Dallas metro region.) Complete
The city has recognized the need to automobile dependence has led to
make more pedestrian and bike- significant sprawl, yet citizens have
friendly neighborhoods. Arlington has twice voted down public transit bal-
taken an initial step in developing lot funding measures, most recently
local food resources the city in 2002.
recently held a dedication ceremony However, residents now seem to
for its first community garden. be having second thoughts. One of
Arlington has no farmers markets. the goals in the citys 2025 Vision

Arlington, TX | 143
Plan is to comprehensively address public about natural disaster risks
mobility needs through participation along with coordinating the citys
in the development of a regional, response to disaster.
multi-modal transportation network.
There have been increased calls Summary/Next Steps
for speeding up the conversion of Unlike most cities we studied,
existing freight lines to passenger Arlington still has undeveloped
rail service connecting Dallas, land. The city might consider turn-
Arlington and Fort Worth. ing some of that land into parks
its ratio of city land to parks is
Economic Factors slightly below average. Where it
creating incentives Arlington ranks below average in does develop land, creating incen-
green economic development, with tives for building green would help
for building green no clean tech incubation program Arlington make significant progress
would help and low scores in green building toward reducing waste, energy con-
Arlington make (#48) and local food and agriculture sumption and water consumption
significant (#50). The city ranks #22 for natural while promoting healthy regional
disaster risk, though it has weath- economic development.
progress toward ered its share of troubles over time, Piggybacking on The University of
reducing waste, including super tornadoes, flash Texas at Arlingtons business incu-
energy consumption floods and severe hail and thunder- bator would be the perfect way to
and water storms. Having reached out to support local clean tech businesses
Hurricane Katrina survivors, aimed at the emerging green building,
consumption Arlington residents are well aware water purification and renewable
of the chaos and suffering that a energy markets. Mixed-use and
natural disaster can cause. The higher density developments would
citys Office of Emergency be another compelling way to help
Management is taking steps to pre- get residents out of their cars and
pare for disaster by educating the into local businesses.

144 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Nashville, Tennessee
Music City

A long with the rest of Tennessee,

Nashville (population 550,000)
experienced a migration boom last
decade. A dynamic national econ-
omy meant more jobs in many
counties of Tennessee, which in turn
created one of the fastest growth
rates in the country. People came,
lured by good jobs and mild sea-
sons. Housing and services
expanded to absorb the influx. The
boom is now mostly over. The set-
tlers of the 1990s are entrenched in
their suburban enclaves, the subdi-
visions no longer brand-new.
Businesses came to Nashville,
too. Major health care corporations
made the city their regional base,
and Nissan North America is now and parks, one of the lower scores
headquartered here. The city in our study (#48).
remains an attractive place for busi- The city boasts a historic public
nesses to relocate, helped by its market dating back to 1828, where
vibrant music scene, quality work- customers can find fresh, local
force and positive business climate. goods. Community Supported
Agriculture is also available to
Healthy Living Nashville in small numbers. The
Human-made and natural emissions city ranks #22 for local foods indica-
mix to result in air quality that tors, in the middle of the pack.
ranks #32 in our study. City tap
water ranks at #43, with 23 contam- Getting Around
inants, 6 of which exceed The heart of Nashville is surrounded
recommended limits. Green space by sprawl. Traffic congestion within
within the city is minimal, as the the metro area, ranking #20 in our
city provisions only 3.2 percent of study, is not too bad; most commut-
its overall land use for greenbelts ing is done between suburbs. But

Nashville, TN | 145
nearly 81 percent of residents drive strategy that includes composting
alone to work, while only 2 percent organic waste.
take public transit. In green buildings per capita,
Nashville ranks #9 Efforts to counter sprawl are Nashville ranks #27, with six LEED
underway. A nonprofit consortium Registered buildings and one LEED
for waste diversion, of planners and architects called the Certified structure. Renewable
an excellent score Civic Design Center provides one of energy projects and economic devel-
for a city where the most innovative and comprehen- opment are not on the citys front
recycling is not sive plans for centering the urban burner, though the Adventure
core of Nashville. Its design philoso- Science Center does feature a solar
mandated by law.
phy emphasizes community array that was installed in conjunc-
integrity and public transit so that tion with the Tennessee Valley
the city emerges with character and Authority.
cohesion, even as sprawl continues
to exert its outward pressure. The Summary/Next Steps
resulting Plan of Nashville is worth Nashville has been slow to adopt an
checking out. articulated sustainability regime, but
the Plan of Nashville presents a
Economic Factors compelling course that could help
The city ranks #9 for waste diversion, mitigate long commute times and
an excellent score for a city where worsening air quality. As in many
recycling is not mandated by law. cities, small groups of citizens and
Most successful is a citywide curb- professionals here are offering
side program, Curby, which currently exceptional, often inspired, solutions
has upwards of 50 percent of house- to local problems. If city govern-
holds binning mixed paper, cardboard ment can take the reins and channel
and aluminum cans alongside normal this energy, using its successes in
garbage. Meanwhile, a nonprofit areas such as solid waste manage-
called Bring Urban Recycling to ment as a model, Nashville has an
Nashville Today (BURNT) advocates opportunity to move rapidly toward
a far more comprehensive recycling a more sustainable future.

146 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Detroit, Michigan
Opportunities for Change

T he automotive industry has per-

vaded Detroit life for more than
50 years. When the Big Three
automakers Ford, General Motors
and Chrysler have experienced
good times, so have the people of
Detroit. Since 1998, however,
Chrysler has been owned by German
automaker Daimler-Benz, and Ford
and General Motors have struggled
to compete with Japanese carmakers.
Meanwhile, Detroit is losing
population to outlying areas and
other states. It lost about 50,000 of
its citizens between 2000 and 2004,
after shedding about half of its
population from 1950 to 2000.
Detroit is the poorest large city in
the nation, with unemployment also marginal according to the
around 15 percent as of late 2005, EPA. Tap water, originating from
and more than a third of its resi- nearby Lake St. Clair, ranks below
dents living below the poverty line. average at #36 with 18 contami-
With a mindset looking forward, the nants, 5 of which exceed the EPAs
city has an excellent opportunity to recommended limits.
take advantage of emerging clean Park space is slightly below
technologies, including alternative average at #28, taking up 6.6 per-
fuels and advanced transportation cent of total acreage. Belle Island is
technologies, and regain its promi- the largest island park in a US city,
nence as a design and engineering and other parks include the 1,100-
heavyweight. acre Rogue Park, which is the citys
Healthy Living Local food overall ranks #38,
Air quality is a constant challenge with one of the nations lower rates
(#48), with year-round particle pol- of farmers markets per capita. The
lution from soot. Ozone pollution is city does have 43 community

Detroit, MI | 147
gardens, however. The Detroit purification, and indoor daylighting.
Garden Resource Project is an inno- On the whole, Detroit ranks #32 in
vative nonprofit that provides green building.
resources and information to help There are certainly reasons for
residents, schools and communities optimism. A state of Michigan non-
grow their own food. profit based at Detroits Wayne State
University, NextEnergy, was estab-
Getting Around lished to help automakers and
Though Detroit is dependent on the suppliers commercialize alternative
automotive industry for its econ- fuel technologies. And Detroit rates
omy, city leaders have shown some well in both housing affordability, at
foresight in providing alternatives #10, and natural disaster risk, at #8.
for public transportation. The city
ranks #21 in commute-to-work prac- Summary/Next Steps
tices: 7.5 percent of Detroiters ride If Detroit could harness its old-
The Detroit Garden public transit to work, though less school transportation supply and
Resource Project is than 3 percent bike or walk. labor base with alternative-fuel tech-
Another 11 percent carpool, leaving nologies and products, it would
an innovative
about 76 percent who drive to work possess a ready-made migration
nonprofit that alone. The surrounding metro area path into the future. The city has no
provides resources ranks #23 for overall transit rider- shortage of brilliant engineers, mar-
and information to ship. Roadways arent always keters and mechanics to draw upon.
smooth sailing for cars or bus public GM announced in November
help residents,
transit, as the city ranks #38 in 2006 that it would be going into
schools and metro area street and freeway con- production at a later date with a
communities grow gestion. plug-in hybrid SUV, called the
their own food. Saturn Vue Green, that would get
Economic Factors twice the mileage of previous mod-
Detroit automakers are trying to els. When the model would hit the
catch up to Toyota after the success market was not available.
of its Prius and higher gas prices The US automotive industry has
signaled a change for the industry. been slow to embrace change,
Ford is ramping up production of instead choosing to lobby Congress
hybrid car and passenger truck against raising the nations fuel effi-
lines, while GM is staking its ciency standards. Large vehicles
research and development on fuel with high-powered engines have
cells and flex fuel engines that ruled the day in Detroit, but with
run on a mix of ethanol and higher gas prices, they dont appear
unleaded gasoline. to have a bright future. By investing
Both companies, however, face in renewable energy, alternative
an uphill battle to regain their mar- fuel, local food and green building,
ket dominance. Ford has made a Detroit stands to improve the lives
significant investment in green of its residents and keep more of
building. Its River Rouge Plant, them in town.
completed in 2005, features a large
green rooftop, rainwater run-off

148 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Memphis, Tennessee
Living for Today

F or many of Memphiss million

annual visitors, Elviss Graceland
or Sun Studios are the main attrac-
tions. Few realize that Memphis is
the Souths largest city outside of
Florida and an important symbol of
the Civil Rights Movement.
Located on the fertile bluffs of
the Mississippi, Memphis used to be
an economic and military center.
After the Civil War, Memphis
became a mecca for freed slaves.
When a yellow fever epidemic
wiped out nearly a quarter of the
population, Memphis responded by
building the most advanced sewage
treatment facility of the time, and by
locating a new water source: the
legendary Artesian Springs. It is this by developing a greenway to encir-
ability to rebound from strife and cle the city and refurbishing its
tragedy more recently Martin historical parkways.
Luther Kings assassination at a Besides its legendary barbeque,
local motel that has made Memphis has a dearth of local food.
Memphis the great city it is today. Despite a favorable growing climate,
However, little progress has been local produce is hard to find; the
made in ensuring the citys long- city has only one farmers market
term future. and one community garden, where
a few souls at the Mid-South Peace
Healthy Living and Justice Center are doing their
Memphians are blessed with clean part to bring healthy, homegrown
water (ranked #5 in our study), food to residents.
above-average air (#22), and a
graceful system of parks that cater Getting Around
to children and families. The city Memphis prides itself on being a
plans to revitalize the park system regional transportation hub. But the

Memphis, TN | 149
average citizen who needs to get other Fortune 500 companies have
from point A to point B usually does located here, along with a diverse
so in a car. Commuters rely almost range of other businesses such as
exclusively on the automobile agribusiness, retail, tourism and
over 81 percent drive alone to work. even filmmaking. State fiscal policies
Another 12 percent carpool, leaving favor business development there
a smattering of walkers and public is no state income or payroll tax,
transportation riders. and a right to work policy allows
As for public transportation, the workers to be hired without union
city has invested in retooling its membership.
original trolley system in the down- Housing is affordable here. The
town area and along the riverfront. cost of the average house was
This has been good for tourism and among the least expensive of any
downtown business development city we analyzed, just under
but has had little impact on the $85,000, which puts Memphis at #9
transportation habits of the average for affordability when considering
resident. average incomes.

Economic Factors Summary/Next Steps

Memphiss Chamber of Commerce Memphis is a proud city with strong
Main Street trolley on recently has waged a 20-year campaign to cultural traditions and an efficient,
redeveloped downtown declare Memphis Americas well-run government. Nonetheless,
system. Distribution Center. FedEx and two it lacks leadership and management
for city sustainability issues. Mpact
Memphis is trying to improve
Memphis by inspiring the under-40
generation to make their city a bet-
ter place. With clean water and
decent air, city officials and resi-
dents have terrific strengths to work
from in building a more sustainable
public transportation infrastructure
and economy.

150 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Indianapolis, Indiana
Time for a Pit Stop?

I ndianapolis is a city with a long

automotive history extending well
beyond Formula One racecars. Its
no surprise, then, that the city has a
car-based culture. There are few
public transportation alternatives.
Natural gas was discovered in
Indianapolis in the 1890s. The city
offered free gas to companies that
were built there, which led to a
booming local automobile industry
at the turn of the 20th century. (The
Indianapolis 500 began during this
era.) Although the boom ended in
1915 when local natural gas ran out,
the automobile continued to play an
important role in the citys eco-
nomic history.
Today, four interstates intersect Marion Cooperative Extension does
in Indianapolis, make it a major offer urban garden classes and
trucking center and a regional trans- recently catalogued 74 community
portation hub connecting Chicago, gardens.
Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Several parks and trails weave
Louis and other cities. The extensive their way through the city the
network of highways has allowed city ranks #39 in percent of city
Indianapolis to enjoy a relatively land devoted to parks. The long-
low amount of traffic congestion for defunct Central Canal was recently
a city of its size. refurbished and reopened as a city
recreational area with pedal boats,
Healthy Living jogging and bicycle paths that snake
Though surrounded by crops, through downtown. Eagle Creek
mostly soybean and cornfields, Park, purported to be the fourth-
Indianapolis has only five farmers largest city-owned park in the
markets and ranks #31 for overall country, was a result of the grass-
local food and agriculture. The roots efforts of local citizens. You

Indianapolis, IN | 151
can now enjoy 1,400 acres for sail- list at Central Indiana Commuter
ing, rowing and swimming, Services.
plus 3,900 acres for landlubber A public transportation plan
activities. based on transit between downtown
The Monon Trail is a greenway and the suburbs was recently halted
that winds through the center of the because federal funding fell through.
north side of Indianapolis, linking The plan included buses on dedi-
commercial districts, neighborhoods cated lines, light rail trolley and
and parks. On warm weekends, elevated monorail. Many city offi-
users are often shoulder-to-shoulder cials and residents are pushing to
jogging, walking and hiking. continue with the plan without the
Air quality in Indianapolis ranks federal funds. While this is evidence
quite low (#41), one area that the of a community concerned with
city is taking action to address. The improving its deficient public tran-
city plans to plant 100,000 trees sit, the city really needs funding,
over the next ten years, and has increased community awareness,
established internal policies like and dedication to make it a reality.
flexible workday schedules and idle-
reduction policies for all city Economic Factors
vehicles. The city has a significant Local government, businesses, and
number of alternative-fueled vehi- universities in Indiana are demon-
cles, with 12.5 percent of the fleet strating interest in and commitment
using lower-emission fuels. to renewable energy. Since the
Unlike many other cities, state is a leading producer of
Indianapolis is blessed with a water soybeans and corn, its a logical
The city plans to source that originates within the city step to encourage the production of
plant 100,000 trees limits. Unfortunately, the quality of fuel from those sources. In fact, the
over the next ten tap water isnt great (#26), with 13 state has made a commitment to
contaminants, including 4 over the increase biofuels, including
years, and has recommended EPA limit. biodiesel.
established internal BioCrossroads, a coalition that
policies like flexible Getting Around includes locally headquartered phar-
workday schedules Ranked #45 in commute-to-work maceuticals giant Eli Lilly, the city
practices, most of the residents (83 of Indianapolis, Purdue University,
and idle-reduction percent) drive to work in their car and others, is seeking ways to grow
policies for all city alone. Less than 2 percent use public Indianas clean tech economy. In a
vehicles. transportation. Despite the abundance 2004 study, the group developed a
of greenways connecting neighbor- strategy to increase economic
hoods within the city, only 1 growth through agriculture. The
percent walk to work and almost no plan calls for increased production
one rides a bicycle to work. Perhaps of biofuels based on grain and
a testament to the citys carpool oilseed, helping farmers find niches
program, 10 percent of residents car- for their produce, and the incuba-
pool to work. A carshare program tion of innovative food programs
does not presently exist, though you that use Indiana commodities for
can sign up for a commuter match nutritious and healthy food.

152 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Summary/Next Steps options and economic relief to area
Indianapolis has a great opportunity residents.
to begin moving from a fossil fuel The city can help improve its
economy to more sustainable modes energy security by initiating a sus-
of living, and to cultivate industries tainability plan and by offering
around biofuels. While it is a hub of commercial and residential green
a larger interstate highway network, building incentives. Public aware-
the city stands to benefit by expand- ness and participation in planning
ing its bus service and providing and prioritizing all of these issues
more public transit options for its will be important for any type of Aerial view of downtown
expansive suburbs. As oil prices sustainability initiatives led by local Indianapolis including
increase, such tactics will provide government. dominant interstate system.

Indianapolis, IN | 153
154 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Fort Worth, Texas
Taking Steps Toward Sustainability

F ounded as a military camp in

1849, Fort Worth earned the
nickname Cowtown because of its
central role in the cattle drives and
ranching business of the 19th century.
The opening of the railroad in 1876
cemented its status as the hub of the
Texas stockyards. When oil was dis-
covered in West Texas early in the
20th century, Fort Worths strategic
location on the railroad helped it
become a nexus of the oil business.
Fort Worth has come a long way
from its dusty beginnings as a stop
on the Chisholm Trail. It now boasts
major cultural destinations such as art
museums, a symphony, opera and a
ballet company. Fort Worth celebrates
its ranching heritage throughout the resources, ranking #46. Despite a
year; the National Cowgirl Museum long growing season, it has only
tips its hat to womens contributions two farmers markets. School chil-
to Cowtowns vibrant history. dren in at least one elementary
school gardening program are, how-
Healthy Living ever, getting their hands dirty. City
People here are fortunate to have leaders might consider developing a
clean water (#8) and the elegant local food supply. Community gar-
Trinity River, with its 35 miles of dens, for instance, would provide
pedestrian trails. Although Fort Worth residents with a greater sense of
has a relatively low percentage of community and a more secure food
open space compared to other cities supply while promoting project-based
in the study, 75 percent of residents education.
report using their parks for hiking,
walking and playing. Getting Around
Fort Worth is behind the curve Fort Worth is making a concerted
when it comes to local food effort to reduce air pollution caused

Fort Worth, TX | 155

by automobile traffic through a vari- and transportation. Leaders in a few
ety of incentives, including free of those industries are starting to
Fort Worth is also transit passes and comp time for build green, notably Radio Shack,
working to improve city workers who carpool. The pro- which is seeking LEED certification
its bicycling grams have helped to dramatically for its new headquarters on the
increase the number of city employ- banks of the Trinity River. It would
commute options ees who use public transit or be encouraging to see more busi-
by providing carpool. Fort Worth is also working nesses follow that example the
lockers and to improve its bicycling commute city ranks #46 in green building.
equipping all options by providing lockers and
equipping all transit vehicles with Summary/Next Steps
transit vehicles bike racks. Those are encouraging Fort Worth has identified better land
with bike racks. signs, but Fort Worth ranks near last use, air quality, solid waste reduc-
in our commuting category, with tion, storm water management and
nearly 85 percent of residents driv- energy conservation as important
ing alone to work. targets for improving the environ-
Fort Worth has launched a num- ment, and has even been named
ber of initiatives to encourage a one of Americas Most Livable
move away from suburban sprawl Communities. To help it remain liv-
development. Neighborhood able in the long run, Fort Worth
Empowerment Zones promote com- might consider investing in sustain-
pact urban villages located close to ability efforts. Texas cities Austin,
transit, enabling people to walk to San Antonio and Dallas all have
basic services and promoting a programs that can serve as
sense of community. Fort Worth also models.
offers a Smart Commute mortgage Fort Worth is more dependent
homebuyer program for residents on the automobile than most US
who choose to live close to transit cities. The good news is that it has a
services. relatively strong public transporta-
tion system (#15) and is taking
Economic Factors concrete action to increase the num-
Fort Worths historical economy of ber of people who commute to
ranching, agriculture and petroleum work. Developing a local food sup-
extraction was based on using the ply and renewable energy sources,
lands resources. While remnants of and continuing to support transit-
that heritage remain, the economic oriented development would be
sectors most important to todays good steps toward improving its
Fort Worth economy include avia- overall ranking.
tion, logistics, defense, technology

156 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Mesa, Arizona
Surviving the Desert Boom

M ost people would never guess

that Mesa has more residents
than household-name cities like
Miami, Minneapolis, and Honolulu.
Nor would most venture that Mesa
is home to more Mormons than any
other city (it was founded by a
Mormon leader in 1877).
Unfortunately, the city gets low
marks across most of the sustain-
ability categories we analyzed: #32 in
commuting, #35 in planning, and
#34 in tap water quality. Mesas
sprawled, suburban character results
from a bedroom-community existence
theres no historically defined
city center and the town lacks urban
planning approaches that other fast-
growing cities are finding necessary at #46 in our study. Local food
to cope with their challenges. ranks #37 overall, with three farm-
ers markets in the city. Mesa had 1
Healthy Living community garden we could locate
With dry desert air and expansive in our survey. The tap water con-
views of the Superstition Mountains tains 16 contaminants, including 3
(on clear days), Mesa would be per- that exceed the EPAs recommended
fect for an active outdoor lifestyle, if threshold (#34).
not for its sketchy air quality (#45).
The citys air is in violation of the Getting Around
EPAs Clean Air Act for ozone, and Like other Sunbelt boomtowns,
in serious violation for large par- Mesa is almost completely depend-
ticulate matter. Residents should ent on automotive transportation:
take care to check air quality condi- Almost 79 percent of Mesas resi-
tions before exercising outdoors. dents drive to work alone. Public
About 3.6 percent of Mesas transit commute ridership is about 1
land is used for parks, which puts it percent, one of the lowest rates in

Mesa, AZ | 157
our study. The citys metro bus an opportunity to work together to
service operates only six days a address the problems generated by
week. Biking and walking together rapid development: traffic conges-
make up about 3 percent of com- tion (#30), deteriorating air quality,
muter trips. Carpooling is the one and the need for better public tran-
bright spot, with an above-average sit and land use planning.
12 percent of commuters sharing a Increasing access to local food and
ride to work. providing incentives for green build-
ing could be woven into
Economic Factors improvements in transit, zoning and
Mesas economy is really Phoenixs land use. The development of more
Carpooling is the economy. Besides a Boeing plant public parks would enable people to
one bright spot, and some biotech businesses, little stay local, rather than getting in
with an above- industry is based in the city itself. their cars to enjoy the desert air out-
average 12 percent Instead, local services predominate side of town.
as job opportunities, including the In terms of environmental
of commuters Mesa Arts Center opened in 2005 priorities, Mesas Environmental
sharing a ride to and other attractions for tourists Management Program needs to be
work. that generate many additional jobs. able to address big issues such as
The city could capitalize on its air quality, overall development
fast growth with green building, planning and environmental
which would help boost the local impacts, greenhouse gas emissions,
market for related expertise and water conservation and drinking
products in this fast-growing sector. water quality. While the city
But as of early 2006, the city had no might be addressing these issues in
LEED Certified buildings, and one some way, it would do well to make
building registered with the US Green its efforts more obvious in order to
Building Councils LEED program. demonstrate to residents and visi-
tors that Mesa is planning for a
Summary/Next Steps sustainable future.
Now that Mesa has become a large
city, city officials and citizens have

158 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Not Just for Tourists Anymore

V irginia Beach has 38 miles of

coastline on the Chesapeake
Bay and Atlantic Ocean, including
28 miles of public beaches, and
actively promotes its beach-oriented
lifestyle. The attraction of its geo-
graphic advantages have helped
make Virginia Beach a safe, prosper-
ous, well-educated community. The
question is how well the city con-
fronts risks related to both natural
disaster and continued reliance on
fossil fuels.

Healthy Living
Despite low overall marks, Virginia
Beach citizens and visitors do enjoy
decent air (#11), a fair amount of
open space (#25 in percentage of park trolley is just for tourists the
land) with 60 miles of bike trails and city has park-and-ride lots to
easy access to the coast. The city is encourage commuting, but such
also home to three major state and efforts are almost entirely ignored
regional parks and three wildlife by residents. In 2004, nearly 83 per-
refuges. The quality of Virginia Beach cent of commuters drove alone in
tap water quality is unknown, as it their cars, while another 10 percent
was not available in Environmental carpooled. Only 1 percent of resi-
Working Groups national database dents walked to work and less than
from December 2005. Farmers mar- 1 percent took public transportation
kets and community gardens havent or bicycled.
caught on here despite the presence Virginia Beach also operates a
of 147 farms within the city. ferry system that is most heavily
used on the weekends residents
Getting Around seem to use their cars for work and
One popular way to see the sights is use public transit for recreation.
by trolley. Apparently, however, the Since traffic congestion in Virginia

Virginia Beach, VA | 159

Beach is relatively low (#11), there announced the awarding of the first
seems to be little incentive for peo- LEED certification of any building in
ple not to drive. Virginia to Hermitage Elementary
School. The citys mixed-use Town
Economic Factors Center is a positive move toward
Virginia Beachs economy is strong reducing reliance on cars.
overall; median incomes are higher
than average for the region, and Summary/Next Steps
housing affordability ranks #23. As Virginia Beach has an opportunity
of May 2006, the citys largest to capitalize on its geographic advan-
employer, the Oceana Naval Air tages to create a truly sustainable
Station, remained threatened with city. It has the farms to support a
closure by the federal government robust local food economy, and
due to encroaching development. could benefit by tying those producers
Virginia Beach continues to court to local farmers markets, schools and
defense contracts by touting its high other consumers. Such a local food
tech defense and security resources. system would reduce the impacts of
Retail trade, agribusiness, manufac- long-distance food transportation,
turing and convention business are including air pollution and costly oil
other major industries. dependence. The city has an oppor-
Virginia Beach is home to at tunity to be a green economy leader
Another day at the beach. least one solar energy company, and in Virginia by creating incentives for
Virginia Beach's coastal a variety of other renewable energy additional green buildings and sup-
location is an asset as well enterprises pepper its surrounding porting the renewable energy
as a risk. communities. In late 2005, the city enterprises in the region.


160 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Planting a Few Seeds

I n the early 1900s, Oklahoma City

was a charming Victorian city
with a trolley system, a significant
commercial center, a railway hub
and productive industry. The discov-
ery of oil in 1928 was a great boon
for the city, bringing an influx of
rural migrants and unemployed
workers during the Depression. The
city continued to thrive after WWII
until the 1960s, when the oil under
the city dried up and property val-
ues began to decline.
As with so many other US
cities, the inner core of Oklahoma
City began a dramatic decline in the
1960s, which led to white flight to
the rapidly developing suburbs in
the 1970s. In response, several urban importance of water. Water awareness
renewal projects were implemented, is taught in school, and the city
resulting in the demolition of old even has a Drinking Water Week.
neighborhoods, the aging theater Locally grown produce is scarce.
district and historical buildings like There are only three farmers mar-
the Biltmore Hotel. When money for kets in the city, which ranks #41 for
the renewal ran dry, vacant lots sat local food and agriculture. On the
empty where brownstones once bright side, the Oklahoma Food
stood. Redeveloping these areas Cooperative distributes all kinds of
offers one path toward creating a locally grown and produced food to
more sustainable city. cities throughout Oklahoma. The
organization is now helping people
Healthy Living throughout the region start locally
Two areas where Oklahoma City grown food co-ops in their own
shines are air quality (#12) and tap communities.
water quality (#7). Admirably, the There are a limited number of
city is highly conscious of the city parks (#44 in park percentage

Oklahoma City, OK | 161

of total land), but the city is imple- popular destination. The former
menting a new trail system that is warehouse district, Bricktown, is
meant to serve as a sort of bicycle now a bustling entertainment dis-
freeway. Walking, running, biking trict. Many other neighborhoods
and skating paths will stretch across have also been restored, offering
Oklahoma City and many of its sub- upscale lofts, galleries, offices and
urbs. Several walking trails around shops.
the lakes and downtown are already Despite this growth, none of the
completed. redevelopment has included a sus-
tainable living component. As far as
Getting Around SustainLane could determine, the
The days of trolley-based travel in city has only one green (LEED certi-
Oklahoma City are long gone. fied) building, no city
Transportation money goes into environmental department, no sus-
highways, not public transportation, tainability plan and no significant
and 85 percent of the population (greater than 1 percent) renewable
commutes alone by car, compared energy sources as part of its overall
to less than 1 percent who commute city supply.
by public transportation and 1.5 The city has hung its hopes on
percent who walk or bike to work. the fossil fuels energy industry,
Overall, Oklahoma City ranks #49 in which, industry supporters have
city commuting and #45 in metro argued, will buffer the local econ-
area public transportation. There are omy against the higher energy costs
no carpool or carshare programs in being borne by citizens. To some
the city. In the 1990s there was degree they may be right: Higher oil
some talk about light rail, but it and natural gas prices will benefit
stalled. A present plan does involve local energy companies such as
a light rail trolley, a commuter rail Kerr-McGee, and some of that
from downtown to the suburbs, and money will be respent in the states
a metropolitan bus network. economy. But overall money spent
Addressing the state of transporta- by people in the region on rising
tion in Oklahoma City, Mayor Mick energy costs most of which will
A recent restoration Cornett lamented in The Oklahoman go overseas dwarfs any regional
has transformed (April 18, 2006): I think from a job-gain economic benefit that may
public transit standpoint, we are not result from higher energy prices.
downtown prepared [for an energy crisis]. We
Oklahoma City into have designed and created a culture Summary/Next Steps
a popular in this city for the automobile. The Oklahoma Citys air and water qual-
destination. day when the automobile is no longer ity, its downtown redevelopment,
an option, this city is going to have and its light rail plans are strengths
to adapt quickly to the things other from which to build.
cities have done for a long time. The city would benefit from bet-
ter public transportation alternatives
Economic Factors while educating the community
A recent restoration has transformed about the importance to the econ-
downtown Oklahoma City into a omy of a strong public transit

162 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
system. The expanded availability of support and track sustainable proj-
the local food supply and support of ects and policy citywide.
other local businesses enabling a Fortunately, Oklahoma has
healthy economy would provide an many neighboring cities whose pro-
economy less vulnerable to the grams in coordinating sustainability
volatility of the boom-and-bust fossil and environmental offices could
fuel industry. It might also consider serve as models, including Dallas,
creating a city environmental role, San Antonio and Houston.
which would be an excellent way to

Myriad Botanical Gardens, a

gem of biodiversity in
Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City, OK | 163

164 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Columbus, Ohio
Time to Get Green

S mack dab in the center of Ohio

on the Scioto and Olentangy
rivers, Columbus is the state capital
and host to Ohio State University, as
well as a transit hub for rail freight
and trucking. Its city center, though,
has never caught on as a hub of
redevelopment and revitalization
the citys energies and population
have flowed ever outward on
asphalted spokes.
In 2005, Mayor Michael B.
Coleman launched a Columbus Get
Green policy that targeted air qual-
ity, recycling and green building.
The city has made a number of
improvements around recycling, and
has a huge opportunity to take
action by developing sustainability Tap water ranks at #41 in our
programs. study, as it contains 18 contami-
nants, 6 of which are over the
Healthy Living recommended limits set by the EPA.
The air in Columbus ranks #37, Parks take up about 6 percent of
with an EPA ozone air quality viola- the citys total land, which is on the
tion in 2004-2005. As part of Get lower end of an average range for a
Green, an anti-idling measure for US city. The largest city park, Three
municipal vehicles was put into Creeks, is a major hub in the
effect, but efforts to control air pol- Franklin County Greenways pro-
lution will need to go beyond gram, an interconnected system of
limiting idling vehicles. The roots of trails along seven major streams in
the citys overall low ranking in our Central Ohio. The 13 miles of trails
study are the pervasiveness of vehi- parallel the streams, winding
cles, their frequent use, and the lack through forests, fields, prairies and
of an infrastructure encouraging wetlands. Most other area parks are
viable alternatives. under the management of Metro

Columbus, OH | 165
Parks, which includes 13 suburban activity in Columbus. The city had
parks splayed out around the cir- four LEED buildings registered as of
cumference of Interstate 270, which early 2006 (though the city in 2006
forms the citys outer rings. was ready to open one of the
The Central Ohio nations largest LEED certified build-
Getting Around ings, a former downtown
Bicycle Advocacy Without any commuter rail, light department store). Renewable
Organization does rail or metro system, Columbus energy businesses, local food and a
just what its name commuters rely almost exclusively local green business directory are
suggests, including on their cars, which they drive also lacking. Green Energy Ohio is
alone in great numbers more attempting to fix that situation by
sponsoring city
than 83 percent. Though the city promoting news, tours and legisla-
group rides to build has a bus system, less than 3 per- tion for renewable energy
community and cent of residents use it to commute. throughout the state.
raise awareness Only about 2 percent of people in
town walk or bike to work. Because Summary/Next Steps
about cycling.
the town is bisected by two diverg- Columbus would be best served by
ing Interstates, non-vehicular confronting head-on its dependency
movement is somewhat impeded. on the automobile and fossil fuel
The Central Ohio Bicycle energy. The city is in danger of
Advocacy Organization does just becoming less competitive economi-
what its name suggests, including cally as its citizens feel the pinch of
sponsoring city group rides to build higher gas prices. With no viable
community and raise awareness public transit, more and more of
about cycling. their hard-earned money will be
spent on just getting around
Economic Factors reducing income for spending on
Columbus is a classic Midwestern restaurants, entertainment and
city, with major industry in heavy nonessential shopping.
manufacturing, printing, insurance It makes sense for Columbus to
and retail clothing company head- expand its fleet of public transit
quarters. Its also home to the buses and to examine developing
headquarters of the hamburger other forms of public transit as well.
restaurant corporations Wendys and Besides improving the citys air
White Castle. Many national retail- quality, such actions would provide
ers use Columbus as a baseline for insurance against energy-related
product launch testing. economic woes.
In terms of a green economy,
there are few indicators of such

The Lurie Garden at Millennium Park,


166 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Part III
Cities by

168 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
City Commuting

D ata was collected from the US Bureau of the Census/American Fact

Washington, DC leads the nation in this category, with the second-highest
use of public transit in the nation
at more than 33 percent, the high-
est walk-to-work rating at more
than 11 percent, and above-average
bike-to-work ratings.
Following close behind are #2
New York City, the leader in public
transit use with 53 percent of resi-
dents commuting on it, and #3 San
Francisco, which has good all-
around commute rates in public
transit, biking and walking to
work. Boston and Philadelphia are
#4 and #5, respectively both
have excellent or good public tran-
sit ridership rates.
At the bottom end of the spec-
trum, some cities have less than 2
percent of citizens commuting on
public transit, with less than 1 per-
cent of citizens walking to work.
Denver, with a 5 percent com-
mute to work rate on public transit,
has plans to increase that figure four-
fold or fivefold over the next decades
through an ambitious transit-oriented

City Commuting | 169


170 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Regional Public Transportation Ridership

D ata was collected from the Texas Transportation Institutes Urban

Mobility Study (Texas A&M).
Rankings were based on metro region public transit ridership miles and
square miles per region.

Regional Public Transportation Ridership | 171


172 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Metro Street and Freeway Congestion

D ata was collected from the Texas Transportation Institutes Urban

Mobility Study (Texas A&M), which examined average time spent wait-
ing in traffic.
Cleveland is the least con-
gested of the 50 largest US cities.
Following close behind are #2 Tulsa
and Oklahoma City (tied), #4
Fresno, and #5 Kansas City.

Metro Street and Freeway Congestion | 173


174 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Air Quality

A ir Quality was determined by EPA data on average Air Quality Indexes,

combined with EPA data on Non-Attainment areas for the Clean Air Act.
Honolulu had the cleanest average air among the 50 largest US cities
studied. Following in rank for best
air quality are #2 Portland, Oregon;
#3 San Francisco; #4 Oakland; and
#5 Minneapolis.
Air quality is partially deter-
mined by natural forces including
geography, weather and wind pat-
terns, so the highest-ranking cities
in some cases have their physical
location to thank.
But by no means does a citys
poor air quality mean that it cant
take steps to markedly improve
conditions. Number-two city
Portland, for instance, had some of
the nations worst air pollution in
the 1960s and early 1970s, before it
worked with industry and devel-
oped urban planning measures to
reduce smog-producing sprawl.
Now Portland ranks as one of
the most desirable cities, attracting
young professionals with the
citys clean air quality being con-
sidered a major benefit of the citys

Air Quality | 175


176 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Tap Water Quality

D ata was analyzed from the Environmental Working Groups December

2005 database of city tap water quality, which was collected from the US
Environmental Protection Agency.
The highest-ranking tap water
in the study was in Kansas City,
which had no recorded pollutants
when tested.
Following in rank for best tap
water quality are #2 Portland; #3
Louisville; #4 San Francisco; #5
Memphis; #6 San Antonio; #7
Oklahoma City; #8 Fort Worth; #9
Jacksonville; and #10 Arlington.
Data was unavailable for
Honolulu, New Orleans, New York,
and Virginia Beach.

Tap Water Quality | 177


178 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Solid Waste Diversion

T ied for #1 are a number of cities in California, which mandates a waste

diversion minimum for cities, and tracks waste diversion rates for all
the cities in the state as part of this state program. San Francisco, San Jose,
Long Beach, and Los Angeles all
divert more than 60 percent of their
total waste from city landfills
through recycling, green waste and
composting programs.

Solid Waste Diversion | 179

180 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?


Planning and Land Use

D ata analyzed included park percentage per total city land from the Trust
for Public Land as well as sprawl ranking, which was developed by the
Smart Growth America 2002 study of US cities.
San Francisco ranks #1 overall
in planning, with about 20 percent
of its land devoted to parks (#1 in
that subcategory), combined with a
sprawl rating that is second best
out of the nations top 50 cities.
New York, Boston, Portland,
Albuquerque, El Paso and Omaha
(tied), and Philadelphia follow.

Planning/Land Use | 181


182 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
City Innovation

F or city innovation, SustainLane analyzed the following categories using

primary research:
City commercial green building incentives
Environmentally preferable
purchasing programs
City residential green build-
ing incentives
Carpooling coordination
Carsharing programs (public
or private)
One other significant city
innovation not accounted for
in the other five areas was
credited to some cities as a
bonus credit.
Portland, Sacramento and
Seattle tied at #1, demonstrating
programs in all six subcategories.
Tied at #4 are Chicago, New York
and Tucson. The 37 cities that
responded to the survey are
included in this list.

City Innovation | 183

Housing Affordability

S ustainLane used data from the US Bureau of the Census on average hous-
ing prices and average income levels to determine city housing
Coming in at #1 for housing affordability when surveyed, San Antonio
had an average home price of
$88,400, an average annual income
of $36,500, and a living wage ordi-
nance. Following close behind were
Baltimore; El Paso; Fort Worth; and
Arlington, Texas.

Housing Affordability | 185

Natural Disaster Risk

S ustainLane examined the 50 largest US cities based on natural disaster

risk. This ranking was devised with SustainLane primary research as well
as with information from Risk Management Solutions (see chart for complete
ranking of cities from safest to
most at risk). We looked at hurri-
canes, major flooding, catastrophic
hail, tornado super-outbreaks and
earthquakes, taking into considera-
tion potential frequency of disasters
as well as the extent of damage.
Natural disasters can have sig-
nificant environmental and economic
impacts on cities, as can be evi-
denced by the destruction Katrina
caused in New Orleans.
SustainLane did not analyze
drought in this category, as this nat-
ural phenomenon may be mitigated
by water importation and conserva-
tion. Urban wildfires were also not
analyzed as part of this study, as
wildfire damage in modern cities
typically impacts only limited areas
the Oakland, California Firestorm
of 1991 is one tragic exception. The
cities that follow were ranked by
risk of natural disasters that could
change the landscape of a city in a
short period of time, impacting most
city structures, water and energy
supplies, in addition to the cata-
strophic loss of life.

Natural Disaster Risk | 187

Cities at Greatest Risk
Based on these criteria, the cities with the greatest natural disaster risk are
Miami (#50), which is sited on a peninsula between two prolific hurricane
zones; New Orleans (#49); Oakland (#48), which straddles the Hayward
Earthquake Fault; San Francisco (#47), on the San Andreas Fault and at risk
for tsunamis; Honolulu (#46), subject to hurricanes, storm surge flooding
and tsunamis; and San Jose (#45), which is also near the San Andreas
Earthquake Fault.

Cities at Least Risk

Some US cities are much less likely to be impacted by such catastrophic
natural disasters. Leading the pack for safe cities when considering such
scenarios are Mesa, (#1) and Milwaukee (#1), both of which are least likely
to face hurricanes, earthquakes, catastrophic hail and tornado super-outbreaks,
as they lack geographic, geologic and atmospheric conditions needed to cre-
ate these disasters. Catastrophic flooding is also not as likely. Other major
US cities ranking high for safety from natural disaster risk include
Cleveland, El Paso, Phoenix and Tucson (all ranked #3).


188 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Energy and Climate Change Policy

S ustainLane primary research in this category analyzed:

City greenhouse gas tracking and carbon emission inventories
Carbon emission reduction goals
Overall renewable energy use
Percentage for each citys
alternative fueled vehicles as
part of the total vehicle fleet
was credited to cities with
such fleets of greater than 12
percent of total fleet.
Greenhouse gas emissions are
a major contributor to global
climate change, and renewable
energy use and alternative-fuel use
mitigate carbon and air pollution
production while driving local or
regional job growth and economic
Coming in at #1 for energy and
climate change policy as defined by
the above criteria are three cities
that scored 4/4: Portland; San
Francisco; and Seattle. Los Angeles
ranks #4.

Energy and Climate Change Policy | 189



190 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Local Food and Agriculture

L ocal food and agriculture help communities become more self-sufficient

and less reliant on food transported great distances with fossil fuels.
Local food is also fresher, usually has more nutrients and requires less pack-
aging and refrigeration than food
that must be shipped long dis-
tances. Local food purchases also
recirculate money back into the
regional economy, as farmers mar-
ket income typically gets respent
SustainLane used data from the
US Department of Agriculture for
farmers markets and conducted
primary research on farmers mar-
kets and community gardens.
The leader in local food and
agriculture is Boston, which has a
large number of farmers markets
and community gardens per capita,
and is supported by strong local
food education and distribution
programs. Minneapolis, at #2, also
has high number of both commu-
nity gardens and farmers markets
per capita. At #3, Philadelphia
draws upon a healthy network of
in-state farmers, with an active
community gardening program
sponsored by the state horticultural
society. Washington, DC (#4) has
strong links to its regional agricul-
tural territory and the

Local Food and Agriculture | 191

second-highest rate of farmers markets per capita. Tied at #5 are Portland
and Seattle, both of which have high rates of farmers markets per capita
and significant community garden programs.


192 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Green Economy

C ategories of analysis were based on SustainLane primary research except

where noted.
Green, or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
buildings per capita, which
was based on data from the
US Green Building Council
Farmers markets per capita
data from US Department of
Agriculture and primary
Presence of a city or public-
private incubator for clean
technology industries, includ-
ing renewable energy,
advanced transportation,
advanced water treatment,
alternative fuels, green build-
ing and energy efficiency
Presence within the city of a
green business directory,
either public or private.

Green Economy does not

include environmental services
such as hazardous waste cleanup
Many elements of the Green
Economy have value-added benefits
for a citys local economy while
reducing stress on local resources
and the local ecosystem. Green

Green Economy | 193

building, for example, saves businesses and residents money in operating
costs while reducing environmental impacts during manufacture, use and
On top of the Green Economy category is Portland, which has a high
rate of farmers markets and green buildings per capita and numerous local
green business directories. The city was not credited with having a business
incubator, though it may soon be involved in a consortium with wind-
energy and other clean tech businesses. Seattle and Sacramento tied at #2,
with slighter fewer farmers markets and green buildings per capita.
Philadelphia ranked #4, with a clean tech incubator for electric vehicles and
green building technologies. San Francisco was #5.


194 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Knowledge Base and Communications

A s part of this category, four areas were analyzed based on primary

research conducted by SustainLane:
Whether the city has an overall plan for sustainability
Whether it has a sustainabil-
ity or environmental
department that manages and
tracks sustainability efforts
across the city
Whether the city is working
in collaboration with a major
federal research laboratory or
research university
Whether the city is working
with a non-governmental
organization across the city
on sustainability projects,
programs or metrics rather
than just working with a sin-
gle neighborhood.

Many cities tied at #1, with a

perfect 4/4 across the above
subcategories: Portland, San
Francisco, Seattle, Chicago,
Oakland, Denver, San Diego,
Phoenix, Dallas and Charlotte.

Knowledge Base and Communications | 195

Green (LEED) Building

T his category was based on data from the United States Green Building
Councils Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating
Credit was awarded for LEED Certified buildings, with further points
awarded for buildings designated in
three ascending LEED tiers: Silver,
Gold and Platinum. Less credit was
given for LEED Registered build-
ings, which are typically in the
planning or development phase,
before receiving certification. The
resulting total was then normalized
on a per capita basis, using the
adjusted number of LEED buildings
per 100,000 people.
The #1 city based on the above
analysis was Atlanta. Atlantas 45
registered and 12 certified LEED
buildings topped #2 Portland,
which had 54 registered and 16
certified, but a larger population
than Atlanta. In the #3 position
was Seattle, with 43 registered and
14 certified LEED buildings. At #4,
Washington, DC had 28 registered
and 8 certified buildings, and
Sacramento was #5 with 10 regis-
tered and 8 certified.

Green (LEED) Building | 197

Abramson, Jerry, 125 Baltimore, 5758
advertising slogans, 8, 21 Barnes, Kay, 77
agriculture: in Fresno, 120; in Barrett, Tom, 72
Nashville, 145; in Omaha, 131; in bicycles. see cycling
Sacramento, 63, 64; in Virginia biofuels: in Austin, 67; in Dallas, 98;
Beach, 159 in Honolulu, 70; in Indianapolis,
air-conditioning energy costs, 33, 152; in Las Vegas, 106; in
112 Portland, OR, 2223; in Seattle,
air quality (see also names of cities; 29, 30
pollution): rankings, 175176 biomass, 54, 64, 72, 88
Albuquerque, 8183 Bloomberg, Michael, 39, 41
alternative energy (see also biofuels; Boston, 4344, 191
biomass; solar energy; wind Brown, Jerry, 37
energy): in Albuquerque, 82; in Burnham, Daniel, 6
Baltimore, 58; in Boston, 44; in
Chicago, 35; in Cleveland, 110; in C
Dallas, 98; in Denver, 50, 51; in California, 3, 179. see also names of
Detroit, 148; in Fresno, 120; in cities
Indianapolis, 152; in Kansas City, car dependence. see names of cities
78; in Las Vegas, 106; in Long carbon emission reductions (see also
Beach, 113, 114; in Los Angeles, energy reduction programs; LEED
100; in Minneapolis, 54; buildings): in Austin, 66; in
rankings, 189190, 193194; in Boston, 43, 44; in Colorado
Seattle, 30; in Washington, DC, Springs, 102; in Dallas, 98; in
61 Denver, 50; in Honolulu, 70; in
aquaculture, 70 Los Angeles, 100; in Milwaukee,
Arlington, TX, 143144 72; in NYC, 40; rankings,
Army, 87, 8889, 101, 102 189190; in San Antonio, 88; in
Atlanta, 133135, 197 San Jose, 94; in Seattle, 29
Austin, 7, 6567 carpooling: in Albuquerque, 82; in
automobile industry, 147, 148 Cleveland, 110; in Colorado

Index | 199
Springs, 102; in Detroit, 148; in Atlanta, 134; in Austin, 66; in
Fort Worth, 156; in Fresno, 120; Cleveland, 110; in Dallas, 97; in
in Honolulu, 70; in Indianapolis, Detroit, 148; in Houston, 138; in
152; in Las Vegas, 106; in Los Indianapolis, 151; in Las Vegas,
Angeles, 100; in Memphis, 150; 105; in Long Beach, 114; in Los
in Mesa, 158; in Miami, 112; in Angeles, 100; in Miami, 112; in
Milwaukee, 72; in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, 71; in Nashville,
54; in Oklahoma City, 162; rank- 145146; rankings, 173174; in
ings, 183184; in Sacramento, San Antonio, 88; in San Diego,
64; in Tucson, 86; in Tulsa, 140; 74; in San Jose, 94; in Virginia
in Virginia Beach, 159; in Beach, 159160; in Washington,
Washington, DC, 60 DC, 59
Charlotte, 121123 Cornett, Mick, 162
Chavez, Martin, 81, 82 curbside recycling, 146
Chicago, 3, 3335 cycling: in Albuquerque, 82; in
citizen groups (see also nonprofit Arlington, TX, 143; in Austin, 66;
groups/ideas): in Baltimore, 57; in Chicago, 34; in Cleveland, 109,
in Fort Worth, 156; in 110; in Colorado Springs, 101; in
Indianapolis, 151, 152; in Columbus, 166; in Fort Worth,
Jacksonville, 128129; in Kansas 156; in Honolulu, 70; in Las
City, 78; in Philadelphia, 46; in Vegas, 106; in Los Angeles, 100;
Portland, OR, 21; in San Antonio, in Louisville, 126; in Milwaukee,
88; in San Francisco, 7, 27; in 71; in Minneapolis, 53, 54; in
Washington, DC, 60 NYC, 40; in Oakland, 38; in
clean technology. see green business Oklahoma City, 162; in Omaha,
Cleveland, 109110 131; in Philadelphia, 46; in
climate change: evidence of, 13; Portland, OR, 22; in Sacramento,
history of, in US cities, 67 64; in San Diego, 74; in San
climate change action plans, 29. see Francisco, 26; in Seattle, 30; in
also sustainability management Tucson, 86; in Virginia Beach,
Coleman, Michael B., 165 159
collaboration projects: in Charlotte,
122; in Denver, 4950; in El D
Paso, 116; in Indianapolis, 152; Daley, Richard, 33, 35
in Kansas City, 78; in Louisville, Dallas, 9798
126; in Milwaukee, 72; rankings, deconstruction and salvage, 132
195196; in Seattle, 30 Denver, 4951, 169
Colorado Springs, 101102 Denver Green Cities Forum, 51
Columbus, 165166 design ideas: in El Paso, 116; in
community gardens. see local food Nashville, 146; in Philadelphia,
community groups. see citizen 46; in Portland, OR, 21; rankings,
groups 181184; in Washington, DC, 59,
commuting. see car dependence; 60
public transit Detroit, 147148
composting, 126, 146 downtown revitalization. see urban
congestion: in Arlington, TX, 143; in renewal

200 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
E 65, 67; in Charlotte, 122; in
ecotourism, 23 Dallas, 98; in Houston, 138; in
El Paso, 115116 Indianapolis, 152; in Long Beach,
employment, green (see also green 114; in Louisville, 126; in Mesa,
business): in Fresno, 120; in 158; in Milwaukee, 72; in
Houston, 138; in Louisville, 126; Minneapolis, 5455; in
in Oakland, 38; in San Diego, 74; Philadelphia, 46; in Portland, OR,
in San Jose, 93; in Tulsa, 140 23; rankings, 193194; in San
energy reduction programs (see also Francisco, 7, 2627; in San Jose,
carbon emission reductions; 94, 95; in Seattle, 30; in Tulsa, 140
LEED buildings): in Atlanta, 134; green economy rankings, 193194.
in Austin, 67; in Charlotte, 122; see also employment, green;
in Chicago, 33; in Jacksonville, green building; green business;
128129; in Milwaukee, 72; rank- LEED buildings; local economies
ings, 193194; in Seattle, 29; in greenhouse gas emissions. see car
Tulsa, 140 dependence; carbon emission
environmentally preferable purchas- reductions; oil dependence
ing programs, 30, 94, 183184 Grunwald, Michael, 111

farmers markets. see local food Habitat for Humanity, 60, 128
Fisk, Pliny, 65 Hannemann, Mufi, 69
fitness programs, 109, 125 hazardous waste, 9394. see also
flex fuel engines, 148 waste diversion
flood protection, 111, 117, 118 heat island effect, 33, 98
food. see local food Hewlett-Packard, 9394
Ford Motor Company, 147, 148 Hickenlooper, John, 49, 50, 51
Fort Worth, 155156 Honolulu, 6970, 187
fossil fuels. see car dependence; car- housing: affordability rankings,
bon emission reductions; oil 185186; in Albuquerque, 82; in
dependence Arlington, TX, 143; in Baltimore,
Fresno, 119120 58; in Detroit, 148; in Fresno,
fuel cells, 67, 148 120; in Houston, 138; in
Jacksonville, 128; in Kansas City,
G 79; in Los Angeles, 100; in
General Motors (GM), 147, 148 Memphis, 150; in Milwaukee, 72;
geothermal energy, 67 in NYC, 40; in Oakland, 37, 38;
Glascock, Brian, 43 in Philadelphia, 46; in Portland,
grassroots groups. see citizen groups OR, 23; in Sacramento, 64; in
green building (see also names of San Antonio, 88; in San Diego,
cities): rankings, 183184, 74; in San Francisco, 25, 27; in
193194 San Jose, 93, 94; in Tucson, 86;
green business (see also local in Virginia Beach, 160; in
economies; mixed-use develop- Washington, DC, 60
ment projects): in Arlington, TX, Houston, 137138
143; in Atlanta, 134; in Austin, Hurricane Katrina, 117118

Index | 201
hybrid vehicles, 30, 58, 61, 65, 66, local economies: advantages of, 193;
106, 148 in Austin, 67; in Baltimore, 58; in
Chicago, 3435; in Milwaukee,
I 71; in Minneapolis, 54; in
incubators, clean technology, 138, Oakland, 38; in Philadelphia, 46;
140, 193194 in Portland, OR, 23; in San
Indianapolis, 151153 Francisco, 26; in Tucson, 86
industry clusters, 38 local food (see also names of cities):
innovation. see collaboration proj- rankings, 191192, 193194
ects; design ideas; low-income Long Beach, 113114
group programs; sustainability Los Angeles, 99101
management Louisville, 125126
low-income group programs: in
J Baltimore, 57; in Denver, 50; in
Jacksonville, 7, 127129 Jacksonville, 128; in Kansas City,
78; in Miami, 112; in
K Minneapolis, 54; in Philadelphia,
Kansas City, 7779, 177 46; in San Jose, 94; in
Kovatch, Ty, 22 Washington, DC, 60

Lacher, Kria, 5, 8, 23 Madison, WI, 71
landfill programs, 86, 9394, 98, 132 markets. see local food
Las Vegas, 105107 Mayors Climate Protection
lead pollution, 59 Agreement, 4
LEED buildings: in Atlanta, 134; in McCrory, Pat, 122
Austin, 67; in Baltimore, 58; in Memphis, 149150
Boston, 44; in Chicago, 34; in Mesa, 157158, 187
Cleveland, 110; in Colorado methane gas, 98
Springs, 102; in Columbus, 166; Miami, 111112, 187
in Dallas, 98; in Fort Worth, 156; Milwaukee, 7172, 187
in Honolulu, 70; in Kansas City, Minneapolis, 5355, 191
79; in Las Vegas, 106; in Mesa, mixed-use development projects (see
158; in Miami, 112; in also green business): in Colorado
Milwaukee, 72; in Minneapolis, Springs, 102; in El Paso, 115; in
54, 55; in Nashville, 146; in Las Vegas, 105; in Omaha, 131;
NYC, 40; in Oklahoma City, 162; in Sacramento, 64; in San Jose,
in Omaha, 132; in Philadelphia, 94; in Virginia Beach, 160
46; in Phoenix, 92; in Portland, mobile energy, 46
OR, 22; rankings, 193194,
197198; in Sacramento, 64; in N
San Antonio, 88; in San Diego, Nadel, Nancy, 38
74; in San Francisco, 27; in Nashville, 145146
Tucson, 86; in Virginia Beach, natural disasters: in Arlington, TX,
160; in Washington, DC, 60 144; in Detroit, 148; in El Paso,
Leonard, Randy, 22 116; and global warming, 1, 3; in

202 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
Houston, 138; in Jacksonville, agement
128; in Los Angeles, 100; in pollution (see also air quality): in
Miami, 111, 112; in New Orleans, Atlanta, 133; in Cleveland, 109;
117, 118; in Oakland, 38; rank- in Colorado Springs, 102; in
ings, 187188; in Sacramento, Detroit, 147; in Fort Worth,
64; in San Diego, 75; in San 155156; in Fresno, 119, 120; in
Francisco, 25, 26, 27 Las Vegas, 105; in Long Beach,
negative feedback loops, 121122 113; in Sacramento, 63, 64; in
net metering programs, 106 Washington, DC, 59
New Orleans, 117118 Portland, OR, 5, 8, 2123, 175, 191,
New York City, 3941 193, 197
Newsom, Gavin, 26 Potter, Tom, 5, 2223
Nickels, Greg, 4, 29 public education, 88, 94, 144
non-governmental organizations public transit (see also names of
(NGOs), 12 cities): commute to work rank-
nonprofit groups/ideas (see also citi- ings, 169170; ridership
zen groups): in Atlanta, 134; in rankings, 171172
Detroit, 148; in Kansas City, 78;
in Los Angeles, 100101; in R
Miami, 112; in Portland, OR, 23; Radio Shack, 156
in San Antonio, 88; in Tulsa, 140 rain gardens, 78
recycling: in Denver, 51; in Los
O Angeles, 99; in Louisville, 126; in
Oakland, 3738, 187 Nashville, 146; in Philadelphia,
obesity, 46, 105 47; in San Diego, 74; in San Jose,
oil dependence: in Austin, 66; in 93; in Tucson, 86
Dallas, 98; in Denver, 49; in Reisner, Mark, 26
Indianapolis, 151; in Las Vegas, renewable energy (see also biofuels;
105; in Oklahoma City, 161, 162; biomass; solar energy; wind
in Philadelphia, 46; in Portland, energy): in Albuquerque, 82; in
OR, 23; in Tulsa, 139 Austin, 65; in Boston, 44; in
Oklahoma City, 161163 Charlotte, 122; in Chicago, 33,
Olmsted, Frederick L., 6, 125126 34; in Colorado Springs, 102; in
Olson, Lori, 5354 Columbus, 166; in Fresno, 120;
Omaha, 131132 in Honolulu, 70; in Houston,
over development. see sprawl 138; in Indianapolis, 152; in Las
Vegas, 106; in Long Beach, 114;
P in Los Angeles, 99, 100; in
Park, Peter, 50 Louisville, 126; in Milwaukee,
parks (see also names of cities): 72; in Minneapolis, 54; in
rankings in, 181182 Nashville, 146; in NYC, 40; in
pesticides, 64 Oakland, 38; in Omaha, 132; in
Philadelphia, 4547, 191, 193 Philadelphia, 4647; in Phoenix,
Phoenix, 9192 92; in Portland, OR, 2223; rank-
planning. see collaboration projects; ings, 189190; in Sacramento,
design ideas; sustainability man- 64; in San Antonio, 88; in San

Index | 203
Diego, 74; in San Francisco, 26; 64; in San Francisco, 7; in San
in San Jose, 94; in Tucson, 86; in Jose, 94; in Tucson, 86
Tulsa, 140; in Virginia Beach, 160 SustainLane US City Rankings: best
roof gardens: in Boston, 44; in practices knowledge base, 9;
Chicago, 33, 34; in Dallas, 98; in methodology, 1114; overall
Detroit, 148; in Minneapolis, 54; rankings, 2; rationale for, 1, 3;
in NYC, 40; in Portland, OR, 23 resources for, 1418; what made
Rybak, R.T., 55 Portland number one, 5, 8; what
was measured and why, 35
Sacramento, 6364, 193, 197 T
San Antonio, 8789, 185 Texas Instruments, 98
San Diego, 7375, 116 tidal power, 27, 31, 40
San Francisco, 7, 2527, 187 tree planting, 33, 57, 64, 113, 152
San Jose, 9395, 187 Tucson, 8586
school programs, 38, 155 Tulsa, 139141
Seattle, 7, 2931, 191, 193, 197
solar energy: in Albuquerque, 82; in U
Denver, 51; in El Paso, 116; in urban renewal: in Baltimore, 57; in
Las Vegas, 106, 107; in Charlotte, 121; in Cleveland, 109,
Minneapolis, 54; in Nashville, 110; in Denver, 50; in El Paso,
146; in Oakland, 38; in Phoenix, 115, 116; in Fresno, 120; in
92; in Sacramento, 64; in San Jacksonville, 128; in Kansas City,
Francisco, 26; in Tucson, 86; in 7879; in Louisville, 125; in
Virginia Beach, 160 Memphis, 150; in Milwaukee, 72;
sprawl: in Atlanta, 133; in Charlotte, in Oakland, 37; in Oklahoma
121122; in Fort Worth, 156; in City, 161, 162; in Omaha, 132; in
Fresno, 120; in Houston, 138; in Philadelphia, 45; in Phoenix, 92;
Kansas City, 77; in Las Vegas, in Sacramento, 64; in San Diego,
105; in Miami, 111, 112; in 74; in San Jose, 93, 94; in Tulsa,
Minneapolis, 55; in Nashville, 140
145146; in Phoenix, 91; rank- urban villages, 156
ings, 181182; in Sacramento, 64; US Mayors Climate Protection
in San Diego, 74; in San Jose, 94; Agreement, 29
in Tucson, 86
Stern Report, 1 V
sustainability management: in the Virginia Beach, 159160
Army, 8889; in Atlanta, 134; in Vittori, Gail, 67
Charlotte, 122; in Cleveland, 110; vouchers, 54
in Columbus, 165; in Dallas, 98;
in Denver, 4950; in Houston, W
137; in Kansas City, 79; in walkability: in Albuquerque, 82; in
Louisville, 126; in Milwaukee, Arlington, TX, 143; in Austin, 66;
72; in Minneapolis, 53; in New in Baltimore, 58; in Boston, 44;
Orleans, 117; in NYC, 41; rank- in Charlotte, 122; in Colorado
ings, 195196; in Sacramento, Springs, 101, 102; in Dallas, 98;

204 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
in Fort Worth, 155; in 100101; in San Antonio, 87; in
Indianapolis, 152; in Louisville, San Diego, 74; in San Francisco,
126; in Milwaukee, 71; in 26; as SustainLane category, 12
Minneapolis, 54; in Oakland, 38; water quality (see also names of
in Oklahoma City, 162; in cities): rankings, 177178
Philadelphia, 46; in Portland, OR, water transit, 26, 128
23; in Sacramento, 64; in Tucson, watershed protection, 58
86; in Washington, DC, 60 White, Bill, 137
Washington, DC, 5961, 191, 197 Wickes, Judy, 45
waste diversion: in Colorado wind energy: in El Paso, 116; in
Springs, 102; in Dallas, 98; in Milwaukee, 72; in Minneapolis,
Denver, 51; and garbage barge, 7; 54; in Omaha, 132; in Portland,
in Louisville, 126; in Memphis, OR, 22; in Sacramento, 64; in
149; in Nashville, 146; in San Antonio, 88
Philadelphia, 47; rankings, Wynn, Will, 66, 67
179180; in San Diego, 74; in
San Jose, 93; in Tucson, 86 Z
water conservation: in Albuquerque, Zavalney, Katrina, 22
8283; in Kansas City, 78, 79; in zoning codes, 98
Las Vegas, 107; in Los Angeles,

Index | 205
206 | H O W G R E E N I S Y O U R C I T Y ?
About the author

W arren Karlenzig, Chief Strategy Officer of

SustainLane, directs the SustainLane US
City Rankings, a peer-reviewed sustainability
benchmarking of the largest 50 U.S. cities. The
Washington Post said of the rankings: "Surveys
such as SustainLane's go a long way in terms
of helping the nation understand what consti-
tutes a better and more sustainable urban
environment. " Karlenzig has been editor in
chief of Knowledge Management magazine and
sustainability consultant for the federal govern-
ment (US EPA, White House Office of Science
and Technology) and the state of California. He
is also author of A Blueprint for Greening
Affordable Housing (Global Green USA) and has
appeared on CNN, CNBC, The Weather
Channel's "Climate Code" and in The New York
Times and The Wall Street Journal. His blog is

SustainLane is an internet media company dedicated to bringing green to
the mainstream through three key offerings. SustainLane Government
(www.SustainLane.us) provides best practices in sustainability for a net-
work of North American state and local government officials.
SustainLane.com features a directory and reviews of green products and
services, and The Unsustainables is SustainLane's animated series.
If you have enjoyed How Green is Your City?
you might also enjoy other


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