What makes a city “green”? What makes a city “greener” than others? What make 10 cities the “greenest”?
A sustainable city, or eco-city is a city designed with consideration of environmental impact, inhabited by people dedicated to minimization of required inputs of energy, water and food, and waste output of heat, air pollution – CO2, methane, and water pollution. Richard Register first coined the term “ecocity” in his 1987 book, Ecocity Berkeley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future. Other leading figures who envisioned the sustainable city are architect Paul F Downton, who later founded the company Ecopolis Pty Ltd, and authors Timothy Beatley and Steffen Lehmann, who have written extensively on the subject. The field of industrial ecology is sometimes used in planning these cities.
As sustainability has become a priority certain cities have excelled in being green. Check out the top 5 greenest cities in the world:
5. Portland, Ore
Portland is a city located in the U.S. state of Oregon, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Portland was the first city in the USA to take on a climate change action plan and it has plans and laws in place to ensure that the city stays within the limits so the rural land is only preserved for agricultural uses. It also has an excellent reputation in terms of its commuters with over 25% of its workforce either travelling by public transport, bicycles or carpooling.
4. Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. The 2011 census recorded 603,502 people in the city, making it the eighth largest Canadian municipality. Vancouver has high hopes that it will become the world’s greenest city by 2020. The city is famous for its innovative clean techniques, for example it has solar powered trash compactors which are the same size as a regular bin but can hold up to 5x more rubbish, meaning fewer pick-ups for the bin men and therefore lower emissions. It also has a vast amount of renewable sources available meaning it can draw an impressive 90% of its power from these green technologies.
3. Malmö, Sweden
Malmö, in the southernmost province of Scania, is Sweden’s third largest city by population afterStockholm and Gothenburg, and is one of the largest cities in Scandinavia. Malmö is the proud owner of one of the largest energy parks in the world and it boasts an abundance of green space as well as a vast variety of green technology solutions. The Western Harbour in Malmö is completely powered by renewable energy from the sun, wind, hydropower and biofuels. Even the city’s buildings are green, constructed using sustainable materials they’re specifically designed to be as energy efficient as possible.
2. San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the leading financial and cultural center of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco has been at the forefront of sustainable living for many years, in 2007 it became the first US city to ban the use of plastic bags, this has saved over 100 million bags from being thrown into landfill each year. It also started a comprehensive recycling program in 2009 and so far has managed to save 77% of materials from ending up in landfill – making it the most successful program in the United States.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland. Reykjavik in Iceland has taken the top spot, and rightly so as it’s a city completely powered by renewable energy. The city is surrounded by geothermal activity which can then be converted into clean energy. The plan for Reykjavik is for the city to be completely independent by 2050, having no reliance on fossil fuels at all. The city currently uses hydropower and geothermal activity to provide hot water, electricity and heat for the city.
Related articles: – UAE: Masdar City, the first “green” city! (video)