7 Hidden Eco-gems: Under-the-Radar Cities Worth a Visit
Scenes from MalmÃ¶, Sweden -- a hidden green city gem -- BjÃ¶rn SÃ¶derqvist @ flickr.
Portland, San Francisco, and New York. These three cities consistently rise to the top of U.S. and even global lists of great green cities. And while these cities, through both some natural advantages and hard policy work, have earned their green cred, there's more out there taking sustainable city building seriously. Caveat: This is not a scientific list, nor is it a ranking. Instead, it's a list of current cities (thus we skip over the not-yet-real places such as Masdar, Tianjin, and Dongtan) that meet most criteria of effective green cities and are worth a look for both right now and future greening.
Photo of MalmÃ¶'s western skyline and Turning Torso by bjaglin @ flickr.
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Green Cities
What all greening cities -- and we use the word "greening" as no city, not even Portland, is yet truly green with a capital "G" -- have in common is vision and policy plan for smart growth. After that, the other important factors seem to be:
- Good streets for bike and pedestrian traffic
- Robust transit
- Lots of green canopy
- Expanding and connecting of open spaces
- Natural storm water management techniques
- Renewable energy for metropolitan power generation
1. MalmÃ¶, SwedenMalmÃ¶ is in line to be a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) "One Planet Living" representative city. It was Sweden's first Fair Trade city, and you can tell in local cafÃ©s and restaurants, which feature lots of Fair Trade and organic choices. MalmÃ¶'s latest sustainable city plan takes climate change into account and sets goals for a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. MalmÃ¶ is seriously building green, too —- the Hyllie section of town will run on 100% renewable energy and include lots of green roofs and urban gardens. Friendly competition from Copenhagen as well as nearby VÃ¤xjÃ¶, which has won several awards for greening in Sweden, continues to keep MalmÃ¶ on its toes. MalmÃ¶ is definitely a role model for mid-sized green cities.
Photo of MEC green roof in Toronto by 416style @ flickr.