Across North America, cities are taking it upon themselves to reduce carbon emissions and help their communities become more energy efficient and planet friendly. Some are using laws and ordinances to make it easier to use renewable energy (and more costly to use less energy-efficient materials and methods), and others are leading by example, using alternative fuel fleet vehicles and raising the standards of city operations. No matter the method, these 5 cities are setting green goals and achieving them, making the cities and the planet a greener place.
Portland is consistently named one of the top green cities in the US. Its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was the first of its kind. 50 city buildings meet or exceed the US Green Building Council’s standards for sustainability. Portland was also a founding member of the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, an international initiative to facilitate local governments lowering emissions. first international initiative that aims to facilitate emissions reduction of local governments
North of the border, Vancouver, BC, Canada, is a top green city in North America and beyond. They lead the work in hydroelectric energy, which makes up 90% of the city’s power supply. In 2015, the city announced that 50% of all trips were being made by sustainable transportation- biking, walking and mass transit- 5 years ahead of schedule. Their efforts have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 7% across the city.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is another West Coast green leader. We all know about the water struggles the state of California is having. San Franciscans use the least water of anyone in the state- 49 gallons per day compared to an average of 100 gallons per day across California. They also have big goals for reducing waste. The city plans to be entirely waste free by 2020. While that may seem lofty, they’re already 78% of the way there.
Austin, Texas, is a standout in its own state and within the US. They set high goals for their city operations, planning to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020. Austin also has high hopes for the city as a whole- they want their community to be net-zero (producing as much energy as it uses) by 2050. All city buildings and reconstruction projects in 2016 were at least LEED Silver certified, and 97% of the vehicles purchased for the city’s fleet are alternate-fuel capable. They’ve also managed to decrease carbon emissions from city operations by 47% since 2010.
Our hometown of Chicago, Illinois, is making a greener name for itself. It has risen to the number 2 spot among bike friendly cities by creating 100 miles of bike lanes and supporting the expansion of bike share programs. Providing safer ways to use sustainable transportation is a primary method of reducing carbon emissions. The city of Chicago also has plans to curb energy use by passing ordinances that require buildings to be more efficient. They’ve also reduced the cost and streamlined permits for using renewable energy. This resulted in more than 600kW of solar capacity in the Chicago area. In addition, launched a $50 million green infrastructure fund to help complete green projects, especially on school campuses in the city.
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