Image: Flickr, StuSeeger
What is it that gives a city title to the claim of "greenest?" How would you like to visit a city with no fossil-fueled cars allowed? How about the best city for bicyclists? Or the perfect city to explore sustainable city planning theories which have really been implemented? Our list of the 5 greenest cities in the world sorts through the pack of potentials to find the emeralds.
1. Portland, Oregon
The first city to be designated a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists also won Popular Science's nod as greenest city, based on a survey of renewable energy use, transportation choices, green living and recycling. If you want to stay off the beaten track when immersing yourself in Portland's green infrastructure, try a tour of Portland's lesser known city parks, including the World's Smallest Park--as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Image: Flickr, Shadowgate
2. Freiburg, Germany
Freiburg has been experimenting with green community living for decades, ever since the city center was rebuilt on green principles after its destruction in World War II. Visitors to Freiburg can see the dense social community planning in the section called Rieselfeld, built in the ‘80s, or the celebrated car-free sector of Vauban. Don't miss the Solar Village and the Heliotrop House, both designed by Rolf Disch.
Image: Design Hotels
3. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, a quaint Swiss town at the foot of the Matterhorn, draws nature enthusiasts to outstanding skiing, hiking and mountaineering. As tourism exploded, the city made a decision not to fight the battle to keep infrastructure sufficient for growing traffic demands. Today, the streets are reserved for pedestrians and cycles. Loads are pulled through town on hand carts, horse carts and manually steered electric carts. Small electric freight vehicles require special permits, and some exceptions are made for emergency vehicles. And the place to stay is The Omnia, re-invented by New York-based architect Ali Tayar, and featured in Wallpaper* magazine.