American cities are not exactly famous for their small carbon footprints. If anything, overcrowded urban areas were the first places in the United States to have problems like poor air quality, polluted waterways, and overtaxed energy grids. But today, some cities are challenging their old ways and showing the rest of the country what it means to go green. In fact, a few cities are really leading the way when it comes to recycling initiatives, renewable energy use, and large-scale LEED certifications.
Here are three of the greenest cities in the United States, and some interesting facts you may not know about them and their energy use.
1. San Francisco, California
It’s not just the lush hiking trails with panoramic views that make San Francisco one of the nation’s greenest. This waterfront city and its famous facilities really make an effort to reduce their energy use, and it shows. More than half the public transportation is zero-emission, and the major league baseball stadium (AT&T Park) is the only one in the country powered by solar panels. In fact, the city has actually committed to going waste-free by 2020.
San Francisco made headlines when it banned plastic bags in 2007, but dozens of cities have since followed its lead. Residents are also inundated with encouragements and incentives to compost, recycle and buy local. Of course, it’s easy to convince most California residents to help protect the Bay Area’s gorgeous parks and trails.
2. Honolulu, Hawaii
Despite a constant influx of tourists, Hawaii is still a priceless natural paradise, in part because its residents care about protecting their land, air, and water. That’s especially true in the capital city of Honolulu. Boasting cleaner air and more solar panels per capita than any other city in the United States, Honolulu is teeming with eco-friendly businesses and ocean-friendly practices (like restaurant takeout with no plastic waste).
Tourists also have plenty of eco-friendly ways to get around the island city. Just grab a bike from Biki, a public bicycle-renting program by Bikeshare Hawaii, or board the Waikiki Trolley, a bus with five lines and dozens of stops within Honolulu’s most popular shopping and sightseeing areas.
3. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis is home to the record-breakingly big Mall of America, which is a surprising bastion of green energy at work. All 96.4 acres are heated exclusively by 1.2 miles of solar skylights, which keep it 70 degrees even in the middle of the cold Minnesota winter. And that’s not the only big-name building that makes creative use of the city’s natural resources.
The Minnesota Twins also play in the continent’s first LEED-certified professional sporting venue, Target Field. The stadium uses Arc to track and improve its overall sustainability practices, which already include comprehensive food donation, recycling and composting programs, as well as a water filtration system that catches and uses rainwater and melted snow.
Check out our other blog posts for more recycling reads and inspiring ways to reduce and reuse your waste. When you’re ready to go greener when recycling your debris, call 619-284-9245 for a free quote from our team at Debris Box.