Austin, Texas

Austin (garnering a score of 8.5325 with population of 656,562) reappears in our top 10 list where once again it stands out for its commitment to solar power and green building . Offering its customers one of the highest solar power rebates in the country, Austin plans to meet 20 percent of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2020.

It is likely that fossil fuel inputs into the power grid will decline by more than 20% by 2020, especially natural gas.

Austin’s Green Builder program provides information for homeowners, renters and members of the design and building professions to help build more energy efficient and environmentally sound dwellings. For their central business district, Austin has established minimal requirements for energy efficiency and is considering requiring reflective roofs. Austin’s Smart Growth Initiative is designed to preserve drinking water quality, ensure proximity to mass transit, and maintain a pedestrian-friendly urban design. And it’s S.M.A.R.T. (Safe, Mixed Income, Accessible, Reasonably Priced and Transit Oriented) Housing offers incentives to developers to create more affordable housing.

Austin has also built an outer Bypass and vast amounts of suburbs. The State is also considering an enormous “Trans Texas Corridor” NAFTA Superhighway that would parallel I-35.