With so many individuals taking the go-green pledge, you might wonder which cities are making strides to protect the environment. With sustainable energy sources, decreased eco-footprints and user-friendly green initiatives, here is the list of some of the greenest cities in the world.
9. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Vancouver took great pride in making the 2010 Olympic Games as green as possible, but its dedication to the environment didn’t begin or end there. Ninety percent of Vancouver is powered by renewable energy sources – this means that wind, solar, wave and tidal energy, all reusable resources, power nearly the entire city! Not content with such a feat in energy efficiency, Vancouver is also a leading city in the use of hydroelectricity. With an eye on the future and investing in further sustainable sources, Vancouver is a green city to watch.
8. Malmo, Sweden
While some more urban areas rid themselves of parks in favour of skyscrapers, Malmo takes tremendous pride in its green areas, striving to maintain as much green space as possible throughout an otherwise urban area. One of the largest cities in Sweden, Malmo also has been transforming its neighbourhoods into more environmentally friendly havens.
7. Austin, Texas, United States
Being that Austin is home to both Whole Foods and the South by Southwest Festival, it should come as no surprise that Austin is using food festivals to promote its green efforts. In order to decrease the city’s reliance on fossil fuels, Austin utilizes its strong festival circuit to encourage participants to break their reliance on fossil fuels. But Austinites don’t stop there; city officials have mandated home energy efficiency audits to ensure that each citizen is doing his or her part to keep the planet safe.
6. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Canada makes its second appearance on this list thanks in large part to the Montreal Protocol, which regulates dangerous emissions to the ozone layer. However, it’s the groundbreaking Bixi Public Bike Sharing Project that really sets Montreal away from the pack. Bixi allows subscribers to pick up and drop one of the project’s 3,000 bicycles at any of the program’s 300 stations. It reduces the city’s carbon footprint and is being used as a model for similar programs throughout the world.
5. Zermatt, Switzerland
Located at the foot of the Matterhorn, this quaint Swiss town is known for its exceptional skiing, hiking and mountaineering. However, it is Zermatt’s refusal to lie down to the demands of tourists that make it exceptional. Today, streets are reserved for pedestrians and cyclists only. Visitors must travel to and from their destinations by foot or bicycle while their luggage is transported by small motorized buggies. Zermatt truly takes green vacationing to a whole new level.
4. Curitiba, Brazil
Known for having one of the best mass-transit systems in the world, Curitiba commuters leave their cars at home and hitch a ride on what many consider to be the best city bus line in the world. In addition, rather than using equipment that relies heavily on fossil fuels, city parks are trimmed by a rather unusual, but reusable resource – sheep! That’s right, the municipal shepherd and his flock of 30 sheep are responsible for trimming the grass in all of the city’s parks. Needless to say, both the sheep and the grass are well-kept.
3. Portland, Oregon, United States
While many U.S. cities are riding the green wave, it was Portland that led the way. With an extensive network of bike paths and mass transit, residents are encouraged to seek alternative forms of transportation. Plus, Portland was one of the first cities in the world to make the pledge to reduce its carbon emissions and start transitioning to a green city built entirely with sustainable materials.
2. Freiburg, Germany
Freiburg has a long history of experimenting with green living that dates back to post-World War II. During the reconstruction following the war, the city centre was rebuilt utilizing green principles. Rolf Disch, a world-renowned German architect specializing in eco-friendly building, designed the city’s Heliotrop House, the world’s first and only building that creates more energy than it uses. He is also responsible for the city’s Solar Settlement, which runs on similar principles.
1. Reykjavik, Iceland
While car ownership in Reykjavik is ranked amongst the highest in the world, the city is considered by most to be the greenest city in the world. Why? Because the city is run entirely on green power! It utilizes everything from geothermal to hydroelectricity, even running its popular bus system using hydrogen. Not content with just number one, the city is constantly finding new ways to promote greener living.