For those who are concerned about our climate – and studies show that’s about 70% of us – it's easy to feel overwhelmed by climate change news. Environmental sustainability is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. Fortunately, we have some good news. Across the nation, cities are rising to meet that challenge to create healthier, greener communities.
Cities are pushing to lower greenhouse-gas emissions, create more green space, make commuting easier by limiting the need for cars, create farmer's markets to make local produce more accessible, and other critical shifts. A 2021 WalletHub analysis highlights the greenest cities in the U.S. using 28 green indicators like these.
Explore the 15 most eco-friendly places to live in the United States, including lucky number 11 – Sacramento!
The 15 Most Environmentally Friendly Cities in America
#1: San Diego, CA
In 2021, San Diego was the greenest city in the United States. The city is shooting for a target of 100% renewable energy by 2030 and encourages commuting by bike and making the switch to green energy sources, among other critical initiatives.
#2: San Francisco, CA
San Francisco approaches sustainability on both city-wide and neighborhood levels. Their efforts focus on switching to clean transit and renewable energy, as well as work to create a greener city by increasing the city’s urban forest and creating living rooftops.
#3: Portland, OR
Portland is making an environmental impact with initiatives to lower carbon emissions by building more efficiently and shifting to energy sources like wind and solar, among other crucial initiatives.
#4: Irvine, CA
Irvine is taking innovative approaches to create a more sustainable, eco-friendly city. In fact, in 2021 they were the recipients of $1 million in grant funding to support the effort to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
#5: Honolulu, HI
The City of Honolulu has implemented a climate action plan that outlines 9 strategies the island will use to reach a net-negative carbon economy by 2045.
Did you know? Honolulu has more farmers' markets per capita than any other U.S. city.
#6: Fremont, CA
The City of Fremont adopted its first Climate Action Plan in 2012 and has been dedicated to sustainability ever since. Fremont is 1 of 5 U.S. cities with the most green space in the nation!
#7: Washington, DC
Washington DC's sustainability efforts focus on reducing the urban heat island effect by planting new trees, better managing stormwater runoff, and other crucial measures.
#8: Oakland, CA
Oakland has made impressive progress towards its sustainability goals. The city has some of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in the US. Oakland's sustainability efforts include working to remove carbon emissions by absorbing them out of the atmosphere with green spaces like urban forests.
#9: Seattle, WA
Seattle's work to address climate change concentrates on two of the largest sources of carbon emissions - the transportation and building sections. The city is working to provide healthy, equitable transit options and to construct zero-emission buildings.
#10: San Jose, CA
In 2018 San Jose passed its Climate Smart plan, making it one of the first major U.S. cities to chart a course to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets set by the international Paris Agreement.
#11: Sacramento, CA
Sacramento made the list as the 11th greenest city in the United States! Sacramento promotes sustainability by working to improve transportation options, urban agriculture, and other initiatives. This includes projects like the Railyards, which help to add more open spaces to our beautiful city and use green building practices like urban infill.
#12: San Bernardino, CA
San Bernardino's environmental programs first started in 1995 with an effort to encourage recycling. They continue to pursue pollution prevention and encourage renewable energy for healthier, greener communities.
#13: Buffalo, NY
In 2020 Erie County, home to the city of Buffalo, surpassed its goal to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020 the county saw an emissions decrease of 36.4% compared to a 2005 baseline, surpassing its goal by almost 4.5%.
#14: Chula Vista, CA
This California city has implemented a Climate Action Plan that prioritizes "People, Planet, and Prosperity," implementing zero-waste measures to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste.
#15: Anaheim, CA
The City of Anaheim is pursuing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and change to cleaner, greener electricity and water resources. These efforts include efforts from major local businesses like Disneyland Resort.
These 15 U.S. cities are working to create healthier, more equitable justice through their environmental efforts. What would you like to see your city doing to preserve the environment? Share with us on social media.