SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 22, 2008 (ENS) - Portland, Oregon is in first place again this year in an annual ranking of city sustainability released today by SustainLane, an online guide to sustainable living. This national survey ranks the largest 50 U.S. cities in terms of their green living practices.
Based on 16 economic, environmental and green/clean tech categories, the SustainLane U.S. City Rankings assess each city's ability to maintain healthy air, drinking water, parks and public transit systems, as well as a robust, sustainable local economy with green building, farmers markets, renewable energy and alternative fuels.
This year San Francisco held on to second place, Seattle is again in third, Chicago ranks fourth as it did last year, and New York City has moved up one notch into fifth place.
"The SustainLane U.S. City Rankings speak, first and foremost, to the local leadership found across America and how mayors and city councils are preparing their cities for resource deficits due to high gas and energy prices, drought, rising food prices and other issues," says SustainLane Media CEO James Elsen.
The city that has improved the most is Columbus, Ohio - up to 30th place this year from 50th place in 2007.
Las Vegas, Nevada has slipped in the rankings more than any other city into 47th place from 27th place last year.
The lowest three cities are Tulsa, Oklahoma City and - in last place - Mesa, Arizona.
"We're beginning to see the top and bottom-ranked cities move farther apart, with the cities taking sustainability seriously increasing in desirability nationwide and enjoying better odds of long-term economic prosperity," said Elsen.
"Specifically, the top 15 cities are creating more vibrant city centers and offer higher quality air, water, food and transportation choices that yield smaller carbon footprints per resident than those at the bottom of the list. We predict that the lower-ranking cities will increasingly struggle to sustain their resident and business populations and local economies."
Introduced in 2005, SustainLane says its City Rankings have been a catalyst for change, pointing out that both the median and average scores have increased across all cities surveyed since 2005.
Trends marked by the rankings show greener downtown areas, more bicycling, public transit, renewable energy, government sustainability plans, and community groups in large cities across the United States.
More cyclists are on the streets of Portland, New York, Oakland, D.C., Minneapolis, and Columbus - 12.3 percent more according to the SustainLane rankings.
Cities like Columbus, Oakland and Philadelphia are livening up downtowns and creating areas with high density, mixed use space, infill redevelopment and transit. "This marks a 'Back to the Future' historic shift from suburbs back to cities," according to the SustainLane report.
New light rail and other public transit infrastructure investments are greening travel in Phoenix, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York, Detroit, Houston, Albuquerque, Denver, Dallas, Austin and Charlotte, North Carolina.
More city governments are getting up to speed on high level sustainability officer appointments, climate change plans, adaptation studies, biodiesel, green building. SustainLane notes the trend in Houston, Atlanta and Columbus.
Wind and solar energy production and energy conservation are priorities in Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Houston, Austin and Sacramento, and are being looked at as possibilities across nearly every city ranked.
Citizens are joining together to solve problems caused by rising fuel prices and climate change.
SustainLane notes they have created community gardens, livable spaces, and waste solutions such as anaerobic digesters in Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago and Detroit.
"It has been proven that good, strong local leadership can directly improve residents' quality of life," said Elsen. "During an election year especially, it's important that Americans applaud the steps taken in their municipalities while asking for even bolder forward steps to improve their communities."
To see the 2008 SustainLane U.S. City Rankings, visit: http://www.sustainlane.com/us-city-rankings/
SustainLane's 2008 City Ranking will be featured at the world's first green cities and communities conference in Geneva, on October 1, 2008.
The SustainLane US City Rankings methodology is now being adopted internationally; Japan is working with SustainLane to rank their own cities' sustainable practices in a special report to be released in July 2009 at Japan's Green Festival in Tokyo.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.