Cities in Cascadia should be feeling pretty good right now. This month the Natural Resources Defense Council released its ranking of Smarter Cities in the US and our area scored well.
For large cities, this region dominated the top three spots with Seattle at No. 1, San Francisco at No. 2, and Portland at No. 3. Cascadia also did well for medium cities, and for small cities Washington’s Bellingham landed the top spot and Mountain View, Calif., located outside of SF was just behind it (see highlights of how NW American cities placed below).
This was much more than a feel-good popularity contest. The folks at NRDC attempted a really thoughtful, detailed analysis for the rankings, sifting through more than 600 cities to find those that are leading the nation in their sustainable ways.
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They looked at nine parameters: quality of life, green building, environmental regulations and compliance, air quality, transportation, recycling, green space, energy conservation and production, and water quality.
The mission of the ranking “is to foster a little friendly competition as well as provide a forum for exploring the progress American cities are making in environmental stewardship and sustainable growth.”
Along with the rankings, NRDC launched a new Smarter Cities website chock full of tools to help city slickers find farmers markets, green hotels, recycling sites, and which beaches are safe.
The site is also trying to build a Smarter Cities community of citizen bloggers and reporters, which is an interesting idea that may or may not succeed, particularly given the competition from daily papers and neighborhood-focused websites (for Seattle, sites for Ballard and West Seattle neighborhoods are very popular). But the intent is admirable.
So give yourselves a pat on the back, Cascadia. All that hard work preserving urban forests, forging ahead with recycling, and building miles of bike trails are getting some notice—and hopefully inspiring other urban areas. (And it’s probably lucky for Seattle that the rankings didn’t include British Columbia…but we always enjoy our healthy cross-border competition as well!)
Cascadia’s Smarter Cities winners:
Large cities (250,000+)
- 1. Seattle
- 2. San Francisco
- 3. Portland
- 4. Oakland
- 5. San Jose
- 7. Sacramento
Medium cities (100,000-249,999)
- 2. Santa Rosa, CA
- 5. Eugene, OR
- 6. Spokane, WA
- 11. Berkeley, CA
- 13. Irvine, CA
- 15. Everett, WA
Small cities (50,000-99,999)
- 1. Bellingham, WA
- 2. Mountain View, CA
- 10. Redmond, WA
- 13. Beaverton, OR
Seattle photo courtesy of Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archivesunder the license.