America’s greenest cities: 2019 report card

Which are America’s greenest cities? WalletHub names and shames in a report released today. We look at the top 10 and bottom 10. We also look at which cities had the lowest and highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita. (The United States was ranked third in highest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide by the Union of Concerned Scientists.)

According to Treehugger, the personal finance site WalletHub identified America’s greenest cities by comparing “the 100 largest American cities across 28 key indicators of sustainability across four areas: environment, transportation, energy sources, and lifestyle and policy. The metrics include everything from air quality index and walking/biking scores to water quality, green space, and plastic bag bans.

So green city initiatives continue to gain momentum at local levels while the federal government stagnates. Here are the 10 metropolises leading the pack:

1. San Francisco, California

2. San Diego, California

3. Irvine, California

4. Washington, DC

5. San Jose, California

6. Seattle, Washington

7. Fremont, California

8. Sacramento, California

9. Portland, Oregon

10. Oakland, California

Hmmm, what’s the thread here? California, which is a state that actively pursues green energy initiatives. And wealthier cities are better able to pursue eco-friendly policies. But it’s good to see our nation’s capital on the list. (If Washington, DC’s local government could have a word with the EPA and the Department of Energy, that’d be great.)

And here’s WalletHub’s bottom 10. (At least Virginia Beach will be getting the US’ largest offshore wind farm within a few years.)

91. Virginia Beach, Virginia

92. Jacksonville, Florida

93. Detroit, Michigan

94. Cleveland, Ohio

95. Gilbert, Arizona

96. Mesa, Arizona

97. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

98. Toledo, Ohio

99. Corpus Christi, Texas

100. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Meanwhile, Irvine, California, ranked first in the energy sources category, and Toledo, Ohio, ranked last. Energy sources looked at the share of electricity from renewable sources, solar PV installations per capita, and the number of smart-energy policies and initiatives.

Greenhouse gases per capita

When it comes to having the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita, those six cities (all tied) were:

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Oakland, California

Buffalo, New York

Reno, Nevada

Hialeah, Florida

San Bernardino, California

And the six cities with the highest greenhouse-gas emissions per capita (also all tied) were:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Louisville, Kentucky

Denver, Colorado

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Corpus Christi, Texas

Photo credit: Daiwei Lu/Unsplash

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.