10 Greenest Cities in the World
From eco-friendly construction to the creation of green spaces in cities, these towns are some of the world’s most eco-friendly cities.
Amsterdam is about as bicycle-friendly as you can get, with over 300 miles of bike lanes that cross every major area of the town. And the townsfolk use them! Studies show that around three out of four residents own bicycles and biking is the most common way to get around. The second most common way is walking. And stop in just about any restaurant in the capital and you're bound to find lots of meatless options.
At first glance, Singapore's sea of skyscrapers may make you think it's one of the least green places on the planet. But many of these buildings are eco-friendly, with green roofs and vertical gardens—sustainable construction has been mandated by law since 2008. And look a little closer at Singapore's streets and you'll notice that there are three million trees throughout the city, rightfully giving Singapore the name of the "Garden City."
Take a walk through the streets of Vienna and you might suspect you're in the countryside, as half of the city is covered in green spaces. As for cars? Not for the half of the city's population that uses public transportation as the main mode of getting around. And the city has been steadily moving away from fossil fuels, today getting about 30% of its total energy from renewable sources.
BMW may be headquartered in Munich, but the residents there prefer walking and public transportation to driving—about 20% of the traffic in the city is from bicycles. It's one of the reasons why the air quality of the city ranks so high. With a pledge to get all of its power from renewable energy by 2025, the government has made massive investments in solar, wind power, and geothermal energy.
On track to become carbon neutral by 2025, Copenhagen has pulled off a stunning achievement with Copenhill, a massive facility that converts waste into energy—and serves as a base for an artificial snowboarding and ski slope (really!). Copenhagen's streets are continually adding bicycle lanes, and public buses have been steadily converting from diesel fuel to electric power.
Set in a volcanic region and sitting atop a massive natural reservoir of geothermal energy, Reykjavik has an advantage over most towns when it comes to renewables. Most of the city's buildings are powered and heated by geothermal energy. But Reykjavik didn't stop there. Public buses are fueled by hydrogen and the creation of public parks has been made a priority, with most residents now living just a short walk from a green space.
Vancouver is at the forefront of hydroelectric energy, getting up to 90% of its power from hydro. With over 200 parks all across the city, Vancouver's air quality ranks high among North American cities. And if you're walking down the street in Vancouver and you see something that looks like a futuristic mailbox don't drop in your letters—that's a solar-powered trash compactor.
Photo Credit: Jan Canty / Unsplash
Cape Town, South Africa
Making use of wind power since 2008, Cape Town is serious about renewable energy enough to have constructed its own wind farm. Bicycle routes have been laid all across the city, and you can take your bike onto a MyCiTi public bus free of charge. Solar panels have been popping up everywhere in Cape Town lately, prompted by a government plan to allow residents to sell back the energy they don't consume.
Sweden's capital went green way before it was cool, back in the 1970s, a long road leading to Stockholm eventually winning the first-ever European Green Capital Award in 2010. The plan today is to eliminate the use of fossil fuels by 2040, using biofuel that’s generated from sewage waste to help them get there. About half of the city is covered by green parks and lush gardens, with nearly 500 miles of bicycle paths throughout the town.
The dangers of persistent flooding prompted the city of Curitiba to take a green turn, creating lakes and parks to solve the problem. Curitiba now has over 30 parks and forested spaces all across the city. The program to plant trees along Curitiba's highways has resulted in about 1.5 million new trees to date. And the recycling program that the town began back in 1991 now processes about 70% of the city's waste.
Green towns are all around us and getting greener each day as bold sustainable initiatives strive to create the greenest city in the world.
Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.