Portland, Oregon

Portland also returns from last year’s list, not a surprise, perhaps, for this evergreen city which has directed all of its departments and agencies according to its Sustainable City Principles since 1994. The city accumulated a score of score 8.24, with population of 529,121. The principles, which cover the protection of natural resources, habitat and ecosystem conservation and minimizing human impacts on the environment both locally and worldwide, haven’t languished on paper these last 12 years.

The first U.S. city to have a plan to reduce the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, Portland gains 44 percent of its energy from hydroelectric sources and encouraging the installation of solar power through municipal tax incentives. Light rail, bicycle lanes and buses help keep residents out of their cars, with 13 percent relying on public transportation for their commute to work, two percent bicycling and 11 percent carpooling.

In other words, 85% commute by car, and 74% commute by themselves in their car. Portland has a decent public transit system, but it’s also part of regional efforts to expand I-5 to the north and the new Sunrise Freeway (a de facto Outer Beltway segment).

Portland not only recycles the standard glass, metal and plastics, but also composts residential yard waste and food scraps from businesses. To enjoy their green city, residents have over 92,000 acres of green space (over 11 percent of the total city area) ranging from waterfront areas to trails, athletic fields, parks and public gardens.

That 92,000 acres is far more green space than #1 ranked Eugene.