San Franciscans have longed prided themselves on their eco-minded city, but now it’s official: the “City by the Bay” was named the greenest city in North America in a study of 27 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. and Canada.
Conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Siemens, the U.S. and Canada Green City Index compared cities on environmental performance and policies in nine categories: carbon dioxide emissions, energy, land use, buildings, transportation, water, waste, air quality and governance.
San Francisco ranked in the top five cities in six of the nine categories – energy, buildings, transportation, water, waste and air quality – and scored No. 1 in waste management, as the first U.S. city to mandate composting and recycling for residents, food establishments and events in 2009.
The report also cites San Francisco’s leadership in partnering with the private sector on innovative environmental programs as another reason for receiving the top honor.
“San Francisco’s sustainability programs deliver on multiple levels simultaneously,” said Melanie Nutter, director of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, in a statement. “They need to be good for the environment, but in order to have communitywide impact, they also have to address the economic needs of individuals, improve the local economy and reverse social inequalities. You can see that commitment in play from our recycling and toxics reduction programs to our all-out effort to shut down gas-burning power plants operating within city limits.”
Vancouver, New York, Seattle and Denver rounded out the list of top five green cities, while Cleveland, St. Louis and Detroit were named the least green.