Rating the Greenness of Top Cities

Rankings, no matter the category, are subjective at best. When the topic is "green cities," you can add an exclamation point to the subjectivity.

An entity called the U.S. and Canada Green City Index, in a survey commissioned by the Seimens Corporation, evaluated 27 cities on 31 indicators. There’s no need to be upset about where Indianapolis or any other Hoosier cities ranked because they didn’t even make the list of cities being evaluated.

A few of the results:

The indicators ranged from water and energy consumption and conservation to public use of land, public transportation quality and efficiency, and even how “walkable” the city is to determine the ranking.

Although some cities were expected to top the Green list, there were some surprises, according to the researchers. For instance, the five Greenest cities in North America were the following:

1. San Francisco
2. Vancouver
3. New York City
4. Seattle
5. Denver

Some people may be surprised that New York City is listed as one of the top five Greenest cities. But New York has excellent public transportation, is considered very walkable with new “pedestrian zones,” has an efficient land-use program, and is economically strong compared to many other North American cities.

The five least Green cities in North America were:

1. Detroit
2. St. Louis
3. Cleveland
4. Phoenix
5. Pittsburg 

Some of the least Green cities are former U.S. manufacturing centers that have been on the decline for years. In many cases, the recession has amplified their decline.

“It is interesting to note that while the United States does not have a federal climate policy and no federal carbon standards, most of the Greenest cities in the index have established carbon reduction targets,” adds Stephen Ashkin, CEO of Sustainable Dashboard Tools, LLC.  
Overall Rankings, Greenest to Least Green:
1. San Francisco
2. Vancouver
3. New York
4. Seattle
5. Denver
6. Boston
7. Los Angeles
8. Washington, DC
9. Toronto
10. Minneapolis
11. Chicago
12. Ottawa
13. Philadelphia
14. Calgary
15. Sacramento
16. Houston
17. Dallas
18. Orlando
19. Montreal
20. Charlotte
21. Atlanta
22. Miami
23. Pittsburg, PA
24. Phoenix
25. Cleveland
26. St. Louis
27. Detroit