There was a great article posted on Planetizen today at: http://www.planetizen.com/news/redirect.php?id=16931 on sustainable U.S. cities. In overall rankings, San Francisco and Portland were neck and neck in the top two, followed by Berkeley and Seattle. Not surprisingly, New York ranked highest among east coast cities in no small part due to it's well used transit system.
San Francisco was notable for it's 67% level of waste diversion (not sure I know exactly what that means.)
Portland was #1 in both air and water quality, and #2 in the number of LEED certified buildings.
There's a couple of five minute videos about San Francisco and Portland, featuring mayors Gavin Newsome and Tom Potter, respectively, you can download here: http://www.sustainlane.com/index.php
Pittsburgh stood out by being #1 in farmer's market's, which the article points out have been growing rapidly in recent years all over the country.
Philadelphia also did well in terms of farmer's markets.
Boston stood out by being #1 in transportation.
The great lakes provide good quality drinking water to both Chicago and Detroit.
I wasn't surprised Portland did as well as it did, and it sure makes me feel good about my decision to move there in January. I didn't take much time to study the methodology, but the idea about cities competing to be leaders in sustainability is I think very healthy. IMO, people are more rootless today than at any time in U.S. history, largely because we've placed a premium on job mobility. Increasingly, people's lifestyles mirror the a-local nature of corporations. Instead of letting where you want to live, determine who and where you will work, too often people let their desire for a higher paying job, dictate where they end up living. When we think of cities with the most rapidly growing economies, we often forget that the factors which fuel that growth tend to sacrifice long-term sustainability for short-term appeal. Case in point: Las Vegas. Those who avoid bankrupting themselves through gambling may not be able to stave off thirst or starvation once their oil lifeline is severed leaving the city the desolate wasteland it always was.
If you don't see your city in the rankings, don't worry because SustainLane plans on expanding them to include the top 50 U.S. cities next year.
For those of you who live among the cities that were ranked, or found the article interesting, what do you think? We're you surprised, dissapointed or just reassured? I'm curious as to people's thoughts, opinions and insights on this.