First, we should mention that our Top100 Places to Live list was packed with good choices for our Top 10 Earth Friendly breakout. Our Top100 list identified communities in recovery and positioned for good future growth, so this shouldn’t be surprising. Cities focusing on making positive environmental improvements also tend to be making improvements in all matters. The push for better civic sustainability through improved energy efficiency, renewable energy, efficient public transportation, green construction, public green space and recycling programs are all elements that increase the quality of life for city residents and lessen a community’s negative environmental footprint.
With all that stated, let’s get down to business – in reverse countdown order:
Number 10. Huntsville Alabama. With its excellent sustainability education program, community-wide green space and strong recycling program, this southern charmer is a true tree hugger.
Number 9. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 95% of residents participate in Ann Arbor’s innovative recycling program. They also flock to its public transportation and commute via bicycle. The green embrace is also present in Ann Arbor’s flourishing green space and green building efforts.
Number 8. Ft Worth, Texas. Perhaps a surprise, but Fort Worth possesses an extremely strong renewable energy program. Fort Worth also covers the green bases with an alternatively fueled bus system, solid recycling program and vast green space.
Number 7. Minneapolis, Minnesota. It’s stellar green space comprises a quarter of the urban area and is intermingled among 22 lakes and waterways. A top bicycle town with a growing green rooftop program and thriving neighborhood environmental initiatives make Minneapolis very green indeed.
Number 6. Chicago, Illinois. 33% percent of Chicago commuters use public transportation and Chicago is the big city king of green space. Their solar powered world-class museums, massive Green Roof Program and clean water lakefront are all runaway examples of the Windy City’s commitment to Mother Earth.
Number 5. Austin, Texas score big-time in the green department. With huge goals such as being Carbon Neutral by 2020, its no wonder that Austin with its excellent sustainability, green construction emphasis, massive green space and commitment to renewable energy places it so high on our list.
Number 4. Boulder, Colorado. This deeply conscious city set the environmental standard by using a tax base to increase annual green space. Boulderites are 20 times as likely to bike to work as the national average. The use of alternative energy sources and long standing recycling program are community norms.
Number 3. Madison, Wisconsin. The nation’s first curbside recycling program now has a 97% participation rate. Bikes outnumber cars by nearly three to one. The city mandates energy efficiency and environmental ethics be applied to all its operations and services. Ongoing lake and shoreline clean-up programs continue to make a difference.
Number 2. Boston, Mass. It’s a heavyweight in sustainability and green results. The city promotes a tremendous recycling program, reduction in greenhouse gases, green building policies and a strong preference for public transportation. The aggressive “Green by 2015” program pushes various innovative improvements.
Number 1 and our Top Earth Friendly City for 2010 is Portland, Oregon. It was the first US city to reduce greenhouse gases. It’s recycling program, integrated green space and bicycling options are legendary. Portland leads the nation in renewable energy usage and green commuters. Congrats Portland.