Making the personal choice to lead a greener life is not as simple as it may sound. It’s a big commitment and if done correctly should effect the majority of decisions you make. Now imagine what a commitment it is for an entire city to vow greener efforts! Not only does it require changes in policy and government, but it requires the inhabitants to share in the responsibility. While our fair city certainly makes a valiant effort in being eco-friendly, we could certainly do better. Thankfully there are amazingly green cities around the globe that offer inspiration and lifestyles to live up to. Here’s a look at some of the world’s greenest cities.
Image via Heather R on Flickr
Reykjavik has long been one of the greenest (and most beautiful) cities in the world, mostly thanks to being situated on such volcanic land. Geothermal energy powers all the homes in the city, and lights all the streets. It’s estimated that only 0.1% of the Nation’s electricity uses fossil fuels, which speaks to this capital city’s efforts. This incredible reliance on clean energy, and the goal of being entirely fossil fuel free by 2050 is what makes this city so green.
Image via Nick Kenrick on Flickr
Vancouver is an excellent city to look up to in terms of eco-efforts. With the Greenest City Action Plan in place Vancouver sets impressive goals for itself – to be the greenest city in North America by 2020, and to be completely renewable by 2050. Their total green house gas emissions have decreased by roughly 5% since 2010 and reduced the number of landfills by at least 18% in the same time. More than half of all the city trips made are done by walking, cycling or transit, and the city aims to increase these efforts.
Image via Anita Ritenour on Flickr
Named North America’s greenest city in 2011, San Francisco offers lots of pointers on how to be eco-conscious on a grander scale. The city is serious about greener building practices for all new construction, and require buildings to meet specific LEED or Greenpoint standards. San Fran also places a huge reliance on renewable energy, with the country’s largest municipally owned solar power installation. The Moscone Centre’s roof reduces carbon dioxide emission by a whopping 34,000 tons a year!
Image via Ken Hawkins on Flickr
This charming German city has long been making efforts to be a green. In the 70’s the city implemented an experiment that took hold – deeming the city centre a traffic free zone! This system promoted pedestrian foot traffic and made way for more eco-friendly city planning. Freiburg went on to develop an intensive bike path system, as well as a reliance on public transit opposed to automobiles. With a commitment to renewable energy through regional heating and low-energy building, the prevention of urban sprawl, and the protection of nature, Freiburg is a green inspiration.
Image via Kristoffer Troulle on Flickr
2015’s greenest city title went to a charming city in the UK: Bristol. Bristol’s varied efforts to be more environmentally minded are extremely admirable and offer lots in the way of inspiration. Not only did the city invest in greener transportation, energy, and commit to reducing carbon emissions, but their commitment to growing their low-carbon industry is what stands out. By creating new jobs in the low-carbon digital and creative sectors, Bristol is continuously decreasing their carbon footprint while promoting innovation.