The (surprising) greenest city in the US is?

A new ranking lists the country's most sustainable cities for 2015; number one might not be what you'd expect.

When daydreaming about what America's greenest city might look like, I see calm streets filled with pedestrians and cyclists, bike baskets cascading like cornucopia with farmer's market produce. The air smells like a meadow, there are dogs frolicking in massive parks, there are rainbows, people smile!

But according to a comprehensive ranking by the personal finance site, WalletHub, the truth slams the brakes on my reverie ... screeching tires and all. That's because as calculated by the set of 12 metrics they used – falling into the four categories of Environmental Quality, “Greenness” of Transportation, “Greenness” of Energy Sources and Green Lifestyle & Local Policies – the greenest metropolis of the 100 most populated cities in the United States is none other than the city I call home, New York City.

Whaaat?! I think of Portland or San Francisco ... places where people wear hemp and plastic bags are banned and electric cars fill the parking lots. But no. While those two beacons of sustainability rank second and third, it's the Big Apple that gets the prize for first place.

What's not surprising is that New York takes the number one spot for sustainable transportation. Having a car in New York is a pain in the seat – meanwhile, the subway gets you anywhere, relatively quickly, for a few bucks and every day it seems there are new Citi Bike stands and bike lanes. And indeed, the authors of the ranking found that, for example, the percentage of commuters who drive is four times less in New York than in Chesapeake, Va.; likewise, New York is four times more walkable than Chesapeake as well.

So New Yorkers, take pride in the city (well, that's a given) and wave your reusable shopping bags high!

Here's how the top 10 stack up:
1. New York, NY
2. Portland, OR
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Washington, DC
5. Honolulu, HI
6. Seattle, WA
7. Minneapolis, MN
8. Boston, MA
9. Oakland, CA
10. Fremont, CA

And at the other end:
91. Memphis, TN
92. Bakersfield, CA
93. Glendale, AZ
94. Jacksonville, FL
95. Chandler, AZ
96. Hialeah, FL
97. Louisville, KY
98. Indianapolis, IN
99. Gilbert, AZ
100. Baton Rouge, LA

For the 80 inbetween and to learn more about the methodology behind the numbers, go to WalletHub.

Tags: Air Quality | Cities | Environmental Policy | United States

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