Cities across the U.S. are stepping up and designing initiatives and policies to become more sustainable. These green cities serve as models for effectively implementing solutions that address climate change. By executing these initiatives, a city becomes a cleaner and healthier place to live. Another bonus is economic growth, because cities are now focusing more on bringing in green jobs to address sustainable goals. Green jobs are positions that are specifically designed to benefit the environment, such as jobs in the renewable energy field.
Want to learn more about what states have the most green jobs? Take a look at the Ecotech Institute’s Clean Jobs Index. Below are the top five green cities in America, come back to the Ecotech Institute blog next week to find out what other five cities made our list.
1. Portland, OR
Oregon Clean Jobs Index: 2.16
Portland’s forward-thinking initiatives for addressing climate change have set the standards high. Behind the city’s sustainable advances is Portland’s Climate Action Plan. The plan is looking to achieve a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. To achieve these goals, the Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) has developed creative solutions, such as solar powered parking meters. The Bureau also has developed clean energy programs for businesses, which offer financial incentives for energy efficiency upgrades.
2. Seattle, WA
Washington Clean Jobs Index: 2.13
You know your city is green when the greenest commercial building in the world is located there. The Bullitt Center in Seattle was specifically designed to show what’s possible today and promote urban sustainability. The city also sets records for renewable energy, less than 1% of the city’s power comes from coal. With a zero carbon footprint, hydroelectric plants generates 90% of Seattle’s power. Also, Seattle City Light is the largest investor in the Stateline Wind Energy Center, the biggest wind power project currently operating in the United States.
3. San Francisco, CA
California Clean Jobs Index: 1.8
In San Francisco, you better not even consider throwing your plastic bottle in the trashcan! The city has a mandatory recycling and composting ordinance that requires residents and businesses to properly separate recyclables and compostables and keep them out of the landfill. Recycling and composting is one way San Francisco is working to achieve its goal of zero waste by 2020. San Francisco was also the first major U.S. city to ban grocery and chain pharmacy stores from handing out disposable shopping bags
4. Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota Clean Jobs Index: 1.73
A city known for below-zero temperatures might not seem like it would be bike friendly, but Minneapolis is designed for residents to travel easily by bike. Bicyling.com even ranked the city number one in America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities. And, city residents take full advantage of the options; more than 60% of downtown workers in the city use public or alternative transportation to commute. To become even more sustainable, Minneapolis partnered with its twin city, Saint Paul, to put Thinc.Green in place, an initiative that expands green business by making Minneapolis-Saint Paul a more attractive choice for manufacturers, suppliers and related services.
5. Boulder, CO
Colorado Clean Jobs Index: 1.57
While Boulder is known for its stunning mountain landscape, it also should be recognized for its progressive initiatives to become more sustainable. In 2006, Boulder voters approved the Climate Action Plan Tax, the nation’s first tax on carbon produced by fossil fuels. In 2008, Xcel Energy announced Boulder as the first Smart Grid City in the country. The effort means people in Boulder will be able to more easily choose alternative energy sources and have a more reliable power grid as they start to make sustainable choices like driving electric cars or using intelligent-home appliances.