Design Green Design How Green Is Your City? By Mary Jo DiLonardo Senior Writer University of Cincinnati Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science, and anything that helps make the world a better place. our editorial process Mary Jo DiLonardo Updated February 23, 2021 Beautiful blue skies over Honolulu. Ludovic Hirlimann [CC by 2.]/Flickr Share Twitter Pinterest Email Design Tiny Homes Architecture Interior Design Green Design Urban Design You recycle. Maybe you carpool or take mass transit to work. Perhaps you even have solar panels on your roof. But what about everyone else in your city? How does your community stack up against the rest of the country? Pretty well — if you live in Honolulu. Consumer advocacy site NerdWallet analyzed data for the nation's 150 largest cities to determine the places with the smallest environmental footprints, and some of the results might surprise you. The Hawaiian paradise city topped the list, followed by Washington, D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; San Francisco; and Miami. To determine the rankings, NerdWallet analysts used: • Median Air Quality Index • Percentage of workers who carpool, bike, walk or use public transit to commute to work • Percentage of occupied buildings with 10 or more residents • Residential buildings with a primary heat source of solar per 10,000 buildings • Residential buildings with a primary heat source of coal or wood per 10,000 buildings Here's a look at the top 10 and what earned them a spot on the list. 1. Honolulu, Hawaii The island city tops the list for best air quality and for widespread use of residential solar energy. In 2014, Honolulu received the EPA’s highest classification (“good”) for nearly all days measured, resulting in a median Air Quality Index of 27. 2. Washington, D.C. The national’s capital earns environmental kudos for excellent public transit, which is used by 38 percent of commuters. D.C. also has low levels of pollution from heating fuels, such as coal and wood. 3. Arlington, Virginia Like its neighbor, Arlington has many commuters who take public transit and even more dense residential buildings. Both locations have a media Air Quality Index of 48 — within the EPA’s “good” classification. 4. San Francisco, California This sustainability hotbed scores well with commuters who walk to work (10 percent) and in solar energy usage. Just over 13.8 of every 10,000 homes use solar heating there versus 6.25 of every 10,000 homes nationwide. 5. Miami This sunny city shines in healthy air quality and carpooling. However, only 11 percent of residents take public transit. 6. New York City Being so big and crowded, NYC lends itself to dense housing, mass transit and encouraging people to walk to work. 7. Boston About 15 percent of Bostonians walk to work — that's more than residents of any other top 10 city. 8. Orlando, Florida With stellar air quality, Orlando had only one day in 2014 with unhealthy air. Residents don’t use coal and they burn little wood for heat. 9. Seattle, Washington Seattle makes the list for air quality, high residential density and plenty of commuters who walk and use public transit. 10. Jersey City, New Jersey Air quality is so-so here, but at least 46 percent of workers living in Jersey City commute on public transit, second only to NYC’s 56 percent.