Portland Retains Top Spot in Ranking of Most Eco-Friendly Big Cities in U.S.

Portland Retains Top Spot in Ranking of Most Eco-Friendly Big Cities in U.S.

For a fourth consecutive year, Portland tops SustainLane's annual ranking of the 50 most populous U.S. cities and their performance in 16 economic, environmental, green and cleantech categories.

San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago also hold fast in second, third and four place respectively in the 2008 rankings. The big change in the uppermost tier of cities was the slip of Oakland, Calif., from the No. 5 position last year to No. 9 this year.  Atlanta made the most progress by moving up 19 slots to the No. 19 position this year from the 38th slot last year.

SustainLane, which has conducted its city sustainability survey since 2005, released its 2008 findings yesterday.

The study examines cities' air quality, work commutes, work to offset energy use and climate change, use of locally grown food and agriculture, green building, green economy, housing affordability, innovation, knowledge base, metro congestion, metro transportation, risk for natural disasters, planning and land use, waste management, quality of tap water and water supply.

In compiling the survey results, SustainLane said researchers found that downtown revitalization projects combining high density, mixed use space, redevelopment infills and proximity to transit are on the upswing. The change is being supported by investments in light rail and other public transit infrastructure.

Other trends spotted in the research include greater momentum in the green movement among city governments with the adoption of energy efficiency, eco-friendly building and conservation plans and and increased exploration of alternative and renewable energy.

In another development related to green efforts by municipalities, Dallas has become the first major city to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Performance Track program.

In applying to the program, the city of Dallas said it plans to reduce water use at all municipal sites by 5 percent over a three-year period, a projected reduction of 49 million gallons of water.

The EPA's Performance Track program, established in 2000, is available to cities, companies, facilities and institutions with a strong record of environmental compliance that commit to a three-year plan for improvement that exceeds legal requirements for environmental performance. In exchange, participants are eligible for a number of incentives including regulatory and administrative benefits.

Almost 550 entities participate in the program, which announced last week that Dallas and 42 other new members had been accepted.

Dallas ranks 24th among the 50 major cities on the SustainLane list.