I’ve been enjoying the growing phenomenon of city’s declaring thet they either are or will be ‘the greenest city in the country.’ Ain’t competition wonderful! At last count, I’d clocked at least a half dozen in the US along, including Berkeley, Chicago, New York, Oakland, Portland and Seattle.
Declarations are easy, of course; results are what counts. So have a look at the
Sustainable City Rankings just released by our friends over at SustainLane:
The top five are all from the left coast: San Francisco, Portland, Berkeley, Seattle and Santa Monica. San Francisco and Portland are ranked as Sustainability Leaders, Berkeley, Seattle and Santa Monica as Moving Toward Sustainability (along with Austin, New York, Chicago, Oakland, Minneapolis and Denver); other are ranked as Mixed Sustainability Progress, Sustainability Laggard, or Sustainability in Danger.
This is a snapshot of a very dynamic situation, of course. The City of Albuquerque, for example, is no doubt frustrated by its ranking a ‘Laggard;’ on the other hand, the rankings don’t reflect the Regional Metabolism Assessment that Natural Logic just conducted for them, and the new initiatives that are in motion as a result.
Methodology, of course, is key for something like this (and has been a weak of of some other ranking systems. (See, for example, 100 Most Sustainable Corporations. Maybe.) SustainLane looks pretty good on this acccount, explaining that
‘Overall rankings were determined by averaging 12 individual category rankings into a cumulative average.’ (I could only find 11 categories in their detailed description: transportation, air quality, tap water quality, LEED buildings, food and agriculture, zoning, land use, solid waste diversion, city innovation, planing, energy/climate, and ‘knowledge base.’ )The scoring scheme is described, though the weighting scheme is not.)
It’s a great start, and will no doubt improve and evolve as the feedback rolls in. Things I find missing in my first quick scan: economic development, green business activity and certification, and employment impacts.
But those are small points. The main point: The race is on!

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