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SustainLane

 

 

50 US Cities Ranked by Green Criteria

The SustainLane city rankings of the 50 largest cities is the nation’s most complete report card on urban sustainability. The rankings explain how people’s quality of life and city economic and management preparedness are likely to fare in the face of an uncertain future. These indicators gauge, for instance, which cities’ public transit, renewable energy, local food, and development approaches are more likely to either limit or intensify the negative economic and environmental impacts of fossil fuel dependence.

Since the first SustainLane US City Rankings came out in Spring 2005, world events have made “sustainability” an even more vital concept. Hurricane Katrina has shown how vulnerable city dwellers can be, and also how our nation’s economy and way of life is dependent on often-unpredictable natural and market forces. After Katrina and Rita hit in late summer 2005 destroying New Orleans and Gulf oil processing facilities, gas prices shot up. Prices subsided only to move up again in 2006 to record levels because of global political events combined with steadily growing demand for oil in Asia.

Neither world politics nor global oil supplies are expected to be stable until the end of the decade or beyond. And the carbon emission-created global warming of the Atlantic’s water temperatures is influencing more stronger-than-average hurricane seasons. So the term “sustainability,” officially defined as meeting the needs of the present generation so it doesn’t compromise the quality of life for future generations, has taken on new urgency.

Quality of Life and Clean Technologies

Besides city energy crisis preparedness and natural disaster risk, SustainLane’s rankings cover quality-of-life indicators such as local food availability, tap water quality, air quality, walkability, park space and roadway congestion.

Providing an atmosphere for healthy living is only part of the picture. To illustrate the path cities need to take to maintain regional economic competitiveness, SustainLane’s city rankings track the growth of complementary clean technologies providing jobs and tax base expansion. Exciting developments in renewable energy, advanced transportation, alternative fuels and green building technologies are emerging in and around U.S. cities because of city policies and practices, combined with venture capital investment and consumer demand.

Why Rank or Focus on Cities?

The prosperity of cities and metro areas is critical because for the first time in history they represent the majority of the world’s population. Unlike nations or even states, cities are sited in specific climates with distinct economic qualities and geographic features. Wind turbines, tidal energy and locally produced biofuels capitalize on geographic differences. Local food system development and green building approaches also are the result of regional geographies and climates--food systems and architecture can be further enriched by local cultural and historic preferences and knowledge.

The local nature of every city’s economy is reinforced by a tax bases, school districts, elections, sporting teams, events, seasons and even the weather. Residents often identify first and foremost with their cities. And proximity to other residents and offices of local government means that many citizens are more directly engaged with their city than their state or nation.

In many cities, you can meet your city’s mayor, or at least your elected city officials, without much difficulty or travel. This means that cities get feedback in near real time: when a subway line suddenly needs serious repair or when a water main breaks, city management usually finds out the same day. Said Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle, which was ranked #3 in SustainLane’s city rankings, “I’ve worked in local government my entire adult life. Because it’s a place where you can make a difference: you can roll up your sleeves every day and at the end of the day see the difference you’ve made.”

Because of all the local cultural, economic and political influences, cities are the ideal geo-political medium for sustainability-related improvements, pilot projects and awareness campaigns.

Read and learn more at:  SustainLane.com

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