The world is undoubtedly a beautiful place to live in. Every single human being is privileged to be a part of all the wonders and beauty of this planet called Earth. Over time though, things happened and slowly, the world as known to mankind has changed. It is not a beautiful and as clean as it was before. Living becomes a drag as everyone needs to fight off pollution and climate change.
The green cities of yesteryears have diminished in number and more and more cities have turned dirty and dusty. The environment everywhere has turned unhygienic and therefore, the demand for cleaner places to live has been increasing day by day. But with the continued improvement of human lifestyles and the innovation of more machines, the dream for a greener world looked somewhat like an impossibility now.
Thanks to the efforts of governments and vigilant individuals and organizations, Going Green has been globally introduced. Due to the increased awareness on the need to have a better world to live in, it has become essential for some to start building a green and sustainable Earth. This prompted countries from all over the world to actively join in the venture to wage a war against climate change and to develop a future that is environmentally friendly for every living being.
Proper planning and the right management, along with the implementation of different sustainable methods, it has become possible for many cities to maintain their green objectives amidst increased population and urbanization.
Many cities have acknowledged the need to keep the environment safe and the air clean and fresh. They have realized that the cleaner they are the healthier their constituents are.
But what does it take for a city to be recognized as a green city? What are the criteria to be on the list of the world’s greenest cities? Are you living in a green city? Would you like to visit a green city, where you will see more bicycles than cars on the streets? Do you want to know and explore the different sustainable means currently being implemented in the green cities? The following are the cities that made it to the most recent list of the top ten greenest cities in the world:
10. Zermatt, Switzerland
The top ten spot is given to the city of Zermatt in Switzerland. It is a picturesque and charming Swiss town located at the foot of Matterhorn Mountain, and it is an ideal place for hiking, mountaineering and skiing. Despite the boost in the Swiss tourism industry, this quaint city has managed to fight back the need for modern infrastructure development and the increasing traffic demands. Up until today, the streets of Zermatt are filled only with pedestrians, people on their bicycles, horse carts, hand carts and a few electric cars (emergency vehicles).
9. Freiburg, Germany
On the number nine position is the city of Freiburg in Germany, which also happens to be on the list of the top cleanest cities in the world. What makes this a highly sustainable green city is it roads that are car-free. As amazing as that may sound in this modern time, this city has managed to maintain its medieval style of living. The city is surrounded by green hills that form a fence. Freiburg is very popular for its breathtaking sceneries, high-standard of living, and its all-year-round warm and sunny weather.
One of main reasons why Freiburg has made it on the list is its experimentation on green living, which has being implemented for decades. After the city’s World War II destruction, it was rebuilt on sustainable green principles. It was in the 1980’s when it became a car-free city, making it indeed one of the most sustainable cities in the world.
8. Oslo, Norway
Oslo may be one of the most populous cities in Norway, but is also the greenest. This means that despite the increasing number of people living in this city, it has been able to maintain its objective to keep green and use sustainable methods. In 2007, Oslo was the second greenest city in the world and also one of the most livable. Currently, it is also among the top of the cleanest cities in the world, and for the past several years, it is known also to be among the most expensive cities globally.
While other European cities and destinations like Reykjavik in Iceland and Malmo in Sweden have also adopted true green practices for better quality of living, Oslo made it on the list because of its long history of global environmental concern. Long before other European cities have decided to join the green wagon, Oslo has already made its mark. By 2012, heating oil has been effectively replaced with renewable energy resources and all buses that run on fossil fuel are now using biofuels. When it comes to carbon emission, Oslo is well-known to have the lowest among other European metropolis cities. One of the main reasons why Oslo has been very successful in going green is because of the full cooperation being given by the population as well as the incentives being provided by the government for every building to be developed and built promoting energy efficiency. It is also worthy to mention that 85% of the city’s school children bike, walk or use the hydroelectric powered public transport. Additionally, 94% of household wastes are properly recycled.
If you walk around Oslo, you will be greeted with good air quality and a great view of trash-free streets. Even in winter, you can enjoy walking through the public parks. And if you want to go green all the way, you can easily find an eco-friendly hotel in this city.
7. Portland, Oregon
The greenest city in the United States is Portland in Oregon. It has successfully beaten other more popular cities like San Francisco and New York. So, what makes this city green? Year after year, Portland has been named as one of the cleanest cities in the US, but that did not necessarily mean it is green. Recently though, the city has been focusing more and more on how to properly embrace nature. People of Portland has made it popular to eat local, recycle, carpool and making their building LEED-certified.
Portland is Oregon’s largest city and it has effectively utilizes renewable energy resources; 20% more compared to what’s being implemented on a national level (Portland uses 33%, while national average is only 13%). It was also one of the first US cities to ban the use of plastic bags. It also has around 250 miles of bike lanes, paths and trails.
Just like Oslo, Portland also offers clean fresh air, and its water supply is considered as the cleanest among the largest US cities. When it comes to recycling waste, Portland successfully saves 250,000 tons of CO2 on a yearly basis.
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is that famous city in Denmark for its beautiful sceneries, magnificent castles, and of course, the globally popular Little Mermaid. Aside from the popular tourist attractions, Copenhagen has also made a name for itself for being among the top greenest cities in the world because of its commitment to high standards of living in an environmental way.
Currently, it holds the title as a European Green Capital, because of the citizens’ and the government’s efforts in achieving and sustaining a highly hygienic and clean environment. With that said, Copenhagen is undoubtedly one of the most amazing destinations to go and one of the best places to live at.
Through the years, and with the continued efforts to become and remain sustainable, this city has successfully built a great reputation as a global leader in combating climate change. And just like the cities mentioned above, it is also a city known for bicycles. It has been reported that a third of the city’s residents use their bikes primarily in getting to work and school, and in getting around the city. By next year the numbers of bike users are expected to reach up to 50% of the total number of local residents.
In 2009, this city was host to the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference, proving that the world has been acknowledging its efforts to save the Earth.
5. Dallas, Texas
Another US city has made it to the list, Dallas in Texas because it is one of the first ones that mandatorily implemented the Green Building Standards. As of October last year, all commercial and residential building projects are required to meet the city’s Green Construction Code or to get certified under Green Built Texas, LEED and other sustainable green building codes and standards. And because of the requirements to follow strict city plumbing codes, it is expected that all the succeeding building projects in the city will reduce water usage for up to 20%.
The city recognizes the basic link between the intention of the building codes to safeguard the public’s safety, general welfare and health, and to preserve a healthy and safe natural environment. Dallas also incorporates sustainability through reduction and reuse of resources, water conservation and energy efficiency, efforts that effectively translate to a stronger and better economy.
4. Adelaide, Australia
Adelaide is one of Australia’s most beautiful cities and it is one city where going green rules. It offers 29 parks and green hotels. It also quite well-known as a Cycling City because it offers over 500 bikes that can be hired for free. This is through the effort of the city council’s objective for a greener and cleaner city. There are 14 bike hire locations scattered around the city, including the ones on Pirie Street (where the city council office is located), North Terrace and Waymouth Street.
When it comes to public transport, Adelaide offers Tindo, the very first solar-powered bus in the world, which offers air-conditioning and wireless internet. For those who decide to walk around the city, they will be welcomed by Adelaide’s green buildings.
Recycling is also a big part of Adelaide’s efforts to Go Green. The city’s central market has been effectively recycling over 85% of its waste. Use of renewable resources like the power of the sun has also become a huge part of sustainable living in Adelaide. As proof of this, most of the buildings including the Parliament House, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Adelaide central Bus Station and the South Australia Museum Art Gallery, boast of solar panel systems.
3. Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi in United Arab Emirates managed to get listed because of the city’s efforts to promote waste reduction, water conservation and energy efficiency. It implements the Estidama Pearl Rating System that encourages the implementation of several developments towards Going Green.
One of the most fascinating Green projects of this city is the development of Masdar, the Green City, which is also known as one of the world’s most sustainable communities. Masdar is a model city that offers the best of the financial industries with its entrepreneurial and creative atmosphere. It is a great place to start a business because it is a specifically designed community that has the lowest carbon footprint. Therefore, it is only natural that this community within the city of Abu Dhabi be considered as the core of cleantech corporations in the UAE.
2. Cape Town, South Africa
Due to Cape Town’s effective program on energy efficiency, it has gained the second top position as the greenest cities in the world. The program’s objective is consumption reduction within the municipality. It implements strict rules on energy reduction, as it also improves traffic and street lighting. Years ago, this city has been recognized for its environmentally-friendly efforts and it was good enough to be included in the top ten greenest cities list. In 2010, because of the city’s continued efforts it has become an international sustainability centre.
Cape Town maybe one of the most populous cities in the world, but it has continuously proven through the years that the number of its residents is not a hindrance to its objective to be totally Green and sustainable.
1 Vancouver, Canada
The number one greenest city in the world for 2014 is Vancouver in Canada. It’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan has been responsible for such a high position. As part of the city’s objectives to be the world’s greenest city, the city local council works with the residents in enacting sweeping changes in handling waste, ecosystem and carbon management.
It’s ambitious project for new and carbon neutral buildings by 2020 gave the world the wisdom that being completely Green is possible. Vancouver also aims to totally transform its transport system with the development of a new and innovative Bikeway and the 28 km long Seaside Greenway projects.
Over the years, many cities having been vying for the top spots on the greenest cities list, and the ten mentioned above have made it their obligation to sustain their Green Objectives. Some of these cities may maintain their spots and some may be replaced by other cities. The most important thing here is that the world is now highly aware that there is a great urgency to move towards saving the environment for the future generations.