No doubt there is general agreement on the idea that we should leave Mother Earth in better shape than when we arrived. The extent to how much should be done to preserve and improve this planet, however, likely varies across every individual and from city to city.
WalletHub developed a methodology to rank the 100 largest metros (population) based on green issues in 2018 first using four key dimensions: Environment, Transportation, Energy Sources and Lifestyle & Policy. There is no inclusive agreement on these metrics and the related weightings. For example, no inclusion of recycling is in these metrics. Since recycle programs vary widely across the country, it was not possible to compare one city to another based on available data.
Environment – 40 Points
- Median Air-Quality Index 4.44 points
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions Per Capita 4.44 points
- Urban Heat Island Effect 4.44 points (measures the average daily urban-regional temperature differences over a 10-year period
- Green Space 4.44 points (measures percent of parkland)
- Water Quality 4.44 points
- Daily Water Consumption per Capita 4.44 points
- Percent of Green Hotels 4.44 points
- Population Density 4.44 points (proxy for overpopulation)
- Light Pollution Level 4.44 points
Transportation — 25 points
- Percent of Commuters that Drive Alone 4.55 points
- Average Commute Time by Car 2.27 points
- Walk Score 2.27 points
- Bike Score 2.27 points
- Miles of Bicycle Lanes 2.27 points
- Presence of Bike Sharing Program 2.27 points
- Annual Fuel Consumption 2.27 points (gallons of fuel per auto commuter used as a proxy for congestion level)
- Intersection density 2.27 points
- Percent of Jobs Accessible by Public Transit 2.27 points (number of jobs accessible by a 30-minute transit ride per 100 civilian employees)
- Alternative Fuel Stations per Capita 2.27 points
Energy Sources — 20 Points
- Percent of Electricity from Renewable Sources 10.00 points
- Solar Photovoltaic Installations Per Capita 5.00 points
- Number of Smart-Energy Policies & Initiatives 5.00 points
Lifestyle & Policy – 15 Points
- Farmers Markets & CSA Programs per Capita 3.75 points (CSA=Community-Supported Agriculture)
- Green Job Opportunities 3.75 points
- Number of Local Programs Promoting Green Energy Use 3.75 points
The following table shows the rankings of the top-10. All but one of these was from the West – with Washington, D.C. the outlier. All of the others are either West Coast or deep southwest (Honolulu). Six of the 10 were located in California.
To view the ranking summary for all 100 cities click https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-green-cities/16246/
Even among stringent environmentalists, there is disagreement as to the tradeoffs for a greener America. Just look at the material diversity across the 100 cities included in WalletHub’s study. The push today for completely renewable, zero-carbon electrical generation has seen rampant growth in solar and wind turbines. Yet these same wind turbines result in the loss of bird life in those locales and regions. So do powerlines regardless of the electricity source.
Again note these findings are predicated on the metrics and methodology utilized by WalletHub – alter any of these and the rankings will change.