Tuesday, June 23, 2009

5 of the Greenest Cities in the World to Visit

by Christine Lepisto

Green City Portland photo
Image: Flickr, StuSeeger

What is it that gives a city title to the claim of "greenest?" How would you like to visit a city with no fossil-fueled cars allowed? How about the best city for bicyclists? Or the perfect city to explore sustainable city planning theories which have really been implemented? Our list of the 5 greenest cities in the world sorts through the pack of potentials to find the emeralds.

1. Portland, Oregon

The first city to be designated a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists also won Popular Science's nod as greenest city, based on a survey of renewable energy use, transportation choices, green living and recycling. If you want to stay off the beaten track when immersing yourself in Portland's green infrastructure, try a tour of Portland's lesser known city parks, including the World's Smallest Park--as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Green City Freiburg photo
Image: Flickr, Shadowgate

2. Freiburg, Germany

Freiburg has been experimenting with green community living for decades, ever since the city center was rebuilt on green principles after its destruction in World War II. Visitors to Freiburg can see the dense social community planning in the section called Rieselfeld, built in the ‘80s, or the celebrated car-free sector of Vauban. Don't miss the Solar Village and the Heliotrop House, both designed by Rolf Disch.

Green City Zermatt Omnia Hotel photo
Image: Design Hotels

3. Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, a quaint Swiss town at the foot of the Matterhorn, draws nature enthusiasts to outstanding skiing, hiking and mountaineering. As tourism exploded, the city made a decision not to fight the battle to keep infrastructure sufficient for growing traffic demands. Today, the streets are reserved for pedestrians and cycles. Loads are pulled through town on hand carts, horse carts and manually steered electric carts. Small electric freight vehicles require special permits, and some exceptions are made for emergency vehicles. And the place to stay is The Omnia, re-invented by New York-based architect Ali Tayar, and featured in Wallpaper* magazine.

Green City Montreal photo
Image: Flickr, Serge Melki

4. Montreal, Quebec, Canada

From the Montreal Protocol (regulating emissions damaging to the ozone layer) to the recently implemented Bixi public bike sharing project, Montreal beckons with green initiative. After all, any city hundreds of kilometers from the nearest ocean that boasts its own local surfing club is filled with people who know how to make the most of their surroundings. Don't miss the annual butterflies go free day at the botanical gardens and do check out the nascent sport of river surfing. The place to stay: eco-chic boutique hotel Quartier Dix30.

Green City Austin photo
Image: Flickr, Shane Pope

5. Austin, Texas, USA

Austin, Texas, the home of Whole Foods has emerged as a leader in the quest to break the fossil fuel habit. Most recently, Austin has mandated home energy efficiency audits. Austin's Green Mayor leads the city further down the sustainability path, and to the top of lists of greenest city awards. Try to visit during one of Austin's greener festivals and enjoy the greener festival foods.

Link Source

More on Green Cities
5 Great Green Ways US Cities Are Leading by Example
7 Hidden Eco-gems: Under-the-Radar Cities Worth a Visit
Sustainlane ranks Greenest US Cities
Planet Green City Guide Austin
Planet Green City Guide Sao Paulo
Planet Green City Guide Buenos Aires
Planet Green City Guide Istanbul
Planet Green City Guide Beijing
Planet Green City Guides Index