Popular Science Highlights America’s 50 Greenest Cities

Portland, Oregon - Greenest City Drawing from US Census Data and National Geographic Society’s Green Guide that collected data on thirty characteristics for American cities over 100,000 people, Popular Science create a list of America’s 50 Greenest Cities. Combining the data into four categories (electricity, transportation, green building/spaces, recycling), Popular Science determined green scores (see article for details) for the various cities and identified the cities who are at the forefront.

The top ten cities are: Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Boston, MA; Oakland, CA; Eugene, OR; Cambridge, MA; Berkeley, CA; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX. If you enjoy a visual, an industrious blogger from Austin TX placed all of the data on a map for easy viewing.

I found this list to be an interesting resource for people who are looking for green careers, start a green business, or grow their green business.

  1. The map of the greenest cities confirms a geographic pattern I’ve been seeing on other sites – compare the Greenest Cities map with Cool Cities and Focus the Nation events.
  2. Most people I talk to are looking for green careers in their local area. With these three maps, people will get a better idea of the green potential in their area. (Don’t panic if your city isn’t listed….I’ll have more to say about that below.)
  3. The scores on the four green variables tell us what each city has been focusing on. This information could provide helpful clues to someone trying to find a way into the local green economy.
  4. The scores also tell us where there are gaps in each city. Although you’d need to do some research to understand the political climate and related issues, the low scores may point to potential business opportunities.
  5. Six case studies highlight some of innovative tactics greenest cities are implementing to reach their green goals. Take a look at these scenarios to see if your creativity is sparked!
  6. The fact that the 1st city has an overall score of 23 out 30 and the 50th city has a score of 10 out of 30 shows that there’s much more room for improving even our greenest cities! The momentum shows cities are taking this on, which is great news! The fact that opportunities exist means there’s going to be plenty of green careers as we move forward.

If your geographic area doesn’t seem to be moving in the green direction, you have several choices.

  • You can move. You now have a fairly objective map of the areas that are greening faster than others.
  • Reach out to those in your area who are passionate about sustainability and eliminating greenhouse gases. Drill down in the Cool Cities map and the Focus the Nation map to find like minded people in your area. Volunteer to help these groups take root in your area. Another place you may find others who share your values is the Land Trust Alliance.
  • If you don’t find any established groups, take an active role by jumping in to start the green movement in your area. Both Cool Cities and Focus the Nation have established infrastructures to help you get started. They’ll guide you each step of the way.

Whether you are new to an area or you’ve been a resident for decades, connecting to your local green network is a critical piece of your successful career search. Remember it’s all in who you know! Becoming an active player in the green movement is one of the best ways I know to get connected. Since joining my city’s green task force, I’ve been astounded by how I’ve extended my network of elected officials, dedicated volunteers who also own green businesses, and potential clients who are looking for green careers. Furthermore I know more about my city’s green goals and initiatives, which means I can make a difference close to home.

  1. Megan Prusynski

    Looking for a greener place to live and work was one of my main considerations when I decided to settle in Northern California. With 3 green cities just in the Bay Area, it looks like I picked the right place!

    It would be interesting to see the results for not just cities, but on a broader level like counties that would include rural areas and smaller towns. For those of us that hate the traffic, noise, and crowding in cities, but still need to be near one to find clients or a job, one solution is to telecommute. I live just a couple hours from the Bay Area but do all my work online. So I’m close enough to be a “local” and get clients from the area, but since I live outside of a small town instead of in a large city, my overhead is lower and my rates more competitive. Plus there are redwoods right outside my door. πŸ™‚

  2. Melinda

    Megan, I agree with you it would be terrific to see these results on a broader scale and as you say Carol I’m certain we’ll see more of these as the issue reaches the mainstream consciousness.

    I live in New Jersey and unfortunately my city didn’t make the list but I’m hopeful that one day we will.

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