7 Green Cities That Help Our Environment (and our pockets)
7 Green Cities That Help Our Environment (and our pockets)
Green living is no longer merely an individual preference. In many American cities, policy makers and residents together are leading the movement toward environmental friendliness in everything from transportation to recreation to air quality. This article from Money Under 30 looks at seven green cities that are both eco-friendly and wallet friendly. (Some may surprise you.)
Going green is a movement that is inspiring people to examine and change their lifestyles from top to bottom, which can lead to great outcomes including better health, streamlined finances, and, of course, a healthier planet.
If you feel like going green is the move to make, you might wonder what the ultimate life change might be. Surprisingly enough, many people are opting to move to "green cities" in order to fully experience the benefits of a green lifestyle.
And they're moving to "green cities" offering mass transit options including trains, bikes, and trails for rollerbladers and scooters – which gives the added benefit of huge savings. At the end of the day, if you have the real option of opting-out of owning a car – in most cases, it has a huge impact on your monthly expenses by cutting out car payments and insurance costs.
In addition, these "green cities" offer potentially healthier living due to less air pollution and better access to locally sourced, organic food.
Green cities that are affordable too
If you'd like to go green to the utmost, here are some cities to explore that are gentle both on the environment and the wallet.
These cities made the list due to "green" characteristics like the number of bike trails, public parks, and similar environmentally and eco-friendly city amenities, plus a high overall rating on the Siemens Green City Index.
Though there are a lot of cities that fit the "green city" bill, these cities also have a reasonable cost of living. So if you're looking for great property values, "green cities" offer more attractive real estate prices since homes near gardens and parks often have a higher value than those in tight urban areas.
This midwest city has brutal winters and a burgeoning immigrant population but is quite attractively green friendly.
- Rank on the Green City Index – Minneapolis ranks high – #10 overall – on the Green City Index.
- Bike trails and green spaces – The city boasts hundreds of miles of bike trails and 67 state parks. In fact, Minneapolis has the third-highest percentage of green space in the Index coming in at 20%, compared to the average of 12% for the rest of the cities in the Index.
- Green transportation – Minneapolis has also implemented a number of green initiatives to clean up and revitalize urban areas while improving access to greener forms of transport through programs like the Pedestrian Master Plan, Minneapolis Bicycle Program, Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program, and a bike-sharing program. In fact, Minneapolis is committed to adding 163 miles of new bike trails and has already nearly reached this goal.
- Cost of living – In terms of affordability, Minneapolis ranks #19 out of 119 cities worldwide for cost of living.
The city of brotherly love is also enamored with the environment and its residents' financial well being; Philadelphia is definitely green.
- Rank on the Green City Index – Philadelphia comes in at #13 in its overall on the Green Index, and one of the main accomplishments includes high rankings in environmental governance and air quality.
- Mass transit – Philadelphia's environmental governance includes setting targets for green initiatives supported by the mayor which requires reports and baseline reviews to determine progress and success. Philadelphia also just invested $191 million to encourage increased mass transit use.
- Natural water systems – Philadelphia is committed to improving its natural water systems. They have a 25-year plan called Green City, Clear Water which is set up to reduce water pollution through green stormwater infrastructure projects like rain garden and stormwater planters.
- Cost of living – Philadelphia ranks 11th out of 119 cities for the cost of living.
Houston is a fast-growing metropolis known for its affordable housing and family-friendly residential zones. In fact, it's estimated that 275 people move to Houston every day.
- Rank on the Green City Index – Houston is #16 on the Siemens Green City Index.
- Green diesel vehicles – In the area of green transportation, Houston has invested in their municipal fleet vehicles to be environmentally friendly including having replaced over 30 of the Houston's heavy-duty vehicles with hybrid and clean-diesel vehicles.
- Light rail system – The city is investing over $4.1 billion to extend its light rail system while also committing to invest in the electric vehicle infrastructure. With a recent deployment of 150 charging stations throughout Houston, the administration is also encouraging the use of more electric vehicles to combat pollution and traffic congestion.
- Cost of living – In terms of the cost of living, Houston is ranked 65th out of 119 cities in the world.
With a low unemployment rate, plenty of job diversity and the host of almost a couple dozen Fortune 500 companies, Dallas is an economically sound choice of residence to over one million people.
- Rank on the Green City Index – This exploding Texas city ranks #17 on the Green Index – managing to balance out the needs of its residents and the environment at the same time.
- Alternative fuel – Shining in the area of eco-friendly transportation options, over 40% of Dallas's 2,000-vehicle fleet operate on alternative fuels. It also involves the citizens in its sustainability efforts by teaching residents to plant trees and offering free composting classes and pins to class participants.
- Cost of Living – Dallas ranks 49th out of 119 cities in the world for the cost of living.
Dallas enjoys the perks and convenience of a bustling metropolis without all the environmental fallout.
Charlotte is known officially as the fastest growing city in America.
- Rank on the Green City Index – Charlotte ranks #20 on the overall Green Index.
- Active environmental governance – Part of Charlotte's position on the Index is due to high achievements in this arena. The city is above average when it comes to per capita water usage and has a number of policies that include aggressive green space protection.
- Cost of living – Charlotte ranks 18th for cost living out of 119 cities in the world.
Even with the fastest-growing population in the United States, Charlotte has been able to create and sustain a number of green initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of its rapid growth.
This southern hub has big city amenities with all the perks of small-town southern hospitality. Don't let the simple, southern ways fool you, however. Atlanta boasts a 3,000-square-foot garden on the city hall roof designed to reduce energy consumption and improve stormwater management.
- Rank on the Green City Index – The city actually ranks #21 on the Green Index and has a reasonable cost of living to boot.
- LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings – In terms of "green" buildings, Atlanta has the highest proportion of LEED-certified buildings in the Index in relation to its population, at 18.3 per 100,000 people.
- Air quality and public transit fares – Atlanta has taken great care to create targets for reducing traffic and improving air quality. Initiatives in this area include commuter rewards programs with over 70,000 participants across the state. Public employees also receive subsidized public transit fares.
- Cost of living – Atlanta comes in at 26th out of 119 cities in the world for the cost of living.
This green, affordable city scores high in the areas of buildings, air quality, and environmental governance for green initiatives.
Once a bastion of industrial-era enterprise, this small-ish east coast city is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. In addition, Pittsburgh has commissioned a dedicated environmental authority that gives the public access to information on environmental performance and policies.
- Rank on the Green City Index – With millennials re-discovering and rapidly re-populating the place, it still ranks at an impressive #23 on the Siemens Green Index.
- Energy consumption – Even as a lower-income city, there are plenty of building codes and initiatives in Pittsburgh that encourage office and homeowners to reduce their energy consumption.
- Green initiatives – According to the Index, buildings, transportation, and environmental governance are the city's most impressive green feats.
- Cost of living – For the cost of living, Pittsburgh sits at 23rd out of 119 cities in the world.
At the end of the day, everyone wants to do what they can to save the environment while also saving money. Why not move to a city that is known to help you do both?
Fortunately, you've got plenty of options here to research.
So if you're ready to go green in a new city or town that supports your personal green goals, this list of green cities is a good place to start exploring.