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The 38 greenest cities in North America


Wang An Qi // Shutterstock

The 38 greenest cities in North America

Solar power plant with skyline in background

Greening a city isn’t just good press. According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, a more climate-conscious city supports economic growth by creating jobs, increasing property values, and improving public health factors such as better disease outcomes. By committing to improving air and water quality, cities can reduce their residents’ exposure to harmful pollutants. Designing more green spaces can welcome cooler summers, reduce the risk of heat-related illness; and bring forth additional recreation spaces to the community, increasing opportunities for both physical activity and social engagement.

In its June 2021 report on building resilient nature-based local communities, FEMA reported that Los Angeles added more than 2,000 jobs due to a $166 million investment in nature-based solutions from 2012 to 2014. Such greening investments have demonstrated immediate and long-term benefits to the environment and populace alike. Another notable example from Massachusetts showed that, rather than build a costly treatment facility for the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority instead invested $130 million on nature-based solutions to protect the more than 20,000 acres of watershed that drain into the reservoirs. The move saved an estimated $4 million per year on maintenance costs for a treatment facility and kept local drinking water clean in the bargain.

Nature-based solutions are defined as sustainable planning, design, environmental management, and engineering practices that weave natural features or processes into the built environment. These solutions promote adaptation and resilience, enlist natural solutions to combat climate change, reduce flood risks, restore and protect wetlands, and more.

So which cities are prioritizing policies toward a healthier and more sustainable environment? Calgary.com compiled a list of the greenest cities in North America according to the Carbon Disclosure Project, an international nonprofit that tracks the environmental impact of companies and municipalities around the world. The cities in this list were part of the CDP’s 2021 A List, an annual ranking of cities based on their climate initiatives. They include two districts (Washington, D.C. and the district of Saanich, British Columbia) and are listed in alphabetical order.

To make the list, each city must have a publicly available climate action plan, including emissions reduction and renewable energy targets. The cities were also required to complete climate risk and vulnerability assessments and show measured progress toward achieving their goals. More than 1,000 cities worldwide report to the CDP, 95 of which made the A List. The following are the greenest.



Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Historic Michigan Theater in Downtown, Ann Arbor

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 49.7%
— Gas: 17.2%
— Oil: 0.3%
— Nuclear: 21.1%
— Hydro: 0.3%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.4%
— Wind: 9.8%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.3%



2p2play // Shutterstock

Boston, Massachusetts

Recycling bins and trash can in Boston, Massachusetts

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.4%
— Gas: 39.0%
— Oil: 0.3%
— Nuclear: 25.0%
— Hydro: 7.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 6.0%
— Wind: 3.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



MIRAJA DESIGN // Shutterstock

Boulder, Colorado

Aerial View Of Boulder, Colorado

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 33.0%
— Gas: 37.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 1.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 25.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 4.0%



Ramon Cliff // Shutterstock

Calgary, Alberta

Solar rooftop amphitheater with composite decking and picnic tables at a public park

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 36.0%
— Gas: 48.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 6.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 9.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



Grindstone Media Group // Shutterstock

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 22.0%
— Gas: 39.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 37.0%
— Hydro: 0.5%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 0.5%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 1.0%



Agnieszka Gaul // Shutterstock

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio skyline with John Roebling bridge

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 49.8%
— Gas: 16.7%
— Oil: 0.4%
— Nuclear: 27.6%
— Hydro: 0.9%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.6%
— Wind: 3.2%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.1%



Kenneth Sponsler // Shutterstock

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio, in morning light framed by trees in a small park

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 34.9%
— Gas: 25.3%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 30.5%
— Hydro: 5.7%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.4%
— Wind: 2.3%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



Dorti // Shutterstock

Dallas, Texas

LimeBike parked in a row in Dallas

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 18.0%
— Gas: 45.7%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 11.0%
— Hydro: 0.2%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.1%
— Wind: 23.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 2.0%



DBSOCAL // Shutterstock

Encinitas, California

Encinitas sign and trees

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 54.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 0.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 2.0%
— Wind: 16.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 18.0%



shuttersv // Shutterstock

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville tourist visitor information center storefront view

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 22.3%
— Gas: 44.2%
— Oil: 1.1%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 5.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.5%
— Wind: 25.1%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.4%



Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

Flagstaff, Arizona

Traffic and the train station on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 20.8%
— Gas: 35.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 29.2%
— Hydro: 0.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.5%
— Wind: 1.7%
— Geothermal: 0.3%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.3%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 12.2%



Page Light Studios // Shutterstock

Fort Collins, Colorado

Eagle statue and fountain in Fort Collins

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 64.2%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 19.3%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 11.8%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.6%



John Roche // Shutterstock

Fremont, California

Sunset over an empty road and store fronts

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 1.0%
— Hydro: 30.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 4.0%
— Wind: 36.0%
— Geothermal: 12.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 12.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 4.0%



SnapASkyline // Shutterstock

Hayward, California

Hayward water tower in the evening from above

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 25.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 37.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 38.0%



Nate Hovee // Shutterstock

Houston, Texas

Bicyclists cross wooden bridge in Buffalo Bayou Park

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 18.6%
— Gas: 51.1%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 9.9%
— Hydro: 0.3%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.2%
— Wind: 18.3%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 1.0%



Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana State Capitol Building in Indianapolis

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 43.0%
— Gas: 45.0%
— Oil: 2.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 0.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 8.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 2.0%



Suzanne Tucker // Shutterstock

Iowa City, Iowa

Old Capitol building downtown Iowa City

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 45.3%
— Gas: 2.1%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 13.0%
— Hydro: 0.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.2%
— Wind: 39.4%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



Harold Stiver // Shutterstock

Kitchener, Ontario

An aerial view of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 6.1%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 58.2%
— Hydro: 24.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.5%
— Wind: 8.2%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 2.4%



Keith J Finks // Shutterstock

Lexington, Massachusetts

A white fence and colonial home in Lexington, MA

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 0.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 94.6%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 5.4%



Juan Llauro // Shutterstock

Los Angeles, California

A Metro bike station in Los Angeles

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 21.0%
— Gas: 27.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 14.0%
— Hydro: 6.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 10.0%
— Geothermal: 9.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 9.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 12.0%



Harold Stiver // Shutterstock

Louisville, Kentucky

The Louisville, Kentucky skyline with pedestrian walkway in front

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 60.0%
— Gas: 37.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 3.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 0.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



Steven Frame // Shutterstock

Miami, Florida

Man uses a self-service kiosk station to rent a bicycle on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 2.1%
— Gas: 72.3%
— Oil: 0.3%
— Nuclear: 22.3%
— Hydro: 0.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 0.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 1.5%



Robert Vincelli // Shutterstock

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

American coliseum in Philadelphia with solar panel

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 17.6%
— Gas: 38.0%
— Oil: 0.2%
— Nuclear: 39.7%
— Hydro: 0.9%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.9%
— Wind: 1.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.4%



BondRocketImages // Shutterstock

Piedmont, California

Piedmont neighborhood in California

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 0.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 50.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 50.0%



pr2is // Shutterstock

Saanich, British Columbia

Saanich Peninsula and Cordova Bay on Vancouver Island

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 1.8%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 95.6%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 0.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



LAM-Photography // Shutterstock

St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul skyline in Minnesota

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 23.0%
— Gas: 23.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 28.0%
— Hydro: 6.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 2.0%
— Wind: 15.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 3.0%



Michael Vi // Shutterstock

San Francisco, California

Automated bicycle counter with display showing the daily and annual total bike ridership

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 1.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 10.0%
— Hydro: 50.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.0%
— Wind: 18.0%
— Geothermal: 6.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 6.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 6.0%



Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

San Jose, California

Urban landscape in downtown San Jose

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 13.0%
— Hydro: 31.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 2.0%
— Wind: 24.0%
— Geothermal: 3.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 3.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 17.0%



joojoob27 // Shutterstock

San Luis Obispo, California

Aerial view of Bishop peak and Cerro San Luis Obispo

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 66.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 11.0%
— Geothermal: 12.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 12.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 11.0%



Tero Vesalainen // Shutterstock

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica pier with solar panels

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 1.0%
— Gas: 10.9%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 2.9%
— Hydro: 5.3%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.5%
— Wind: 9.4%
— Geothermal: 1.5%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 1.5%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 65.1%



Scott Prokop // Shutterstock

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saskatoon cityscape on sunny day

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 31.0%
— Gas: 45.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 18.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.0%
— Wind: 5.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



The Image Party // Shutterstock

Seattle, Washington

The bike lane of a street in downtown Seattle

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 0.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 5.0%
— Hydro: 84.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.0%
— Wind: 4.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

Somerville, Massachusetts

Union Square station at Union Square in city of Somerville, Massachusetts

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.5%
— Gas: 48.5%
— Oil: 0.2%
— Nuclear: 30.5%
— Hydro: 8.9%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 2.5%
— Wind: 3.6%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 1.7%



EB Adventure Photography // Shutterstock

Surrey, British Columbia

Aerial of Surrey City Centre in British Columbia

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 2.0%
— Oil: 1.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 90.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 6.0%
— Wind: 1.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



SHTBCB // Shutterstock

Takoma Park, Maryland

Park bench in Takoma Park, Maryland

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 29.8%
— Gas: 28.7%
— Oil: 0.3%
— Nuclear: 35.3%
— Hydro: 1.4%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 0.3%
— Wind: 3.1%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.3%



DoctorIce Photography // Shutterstock

Toronto, Ontario

Bike share Toronto docking station with one bike

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 29.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 34.0%
— Hydro: 23.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.0%
— Wind: 12.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 1.0%



Dan Breckwoldt // Shutterstock

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 0.0%
— Gas: 2.0%
— Oil: 0.0%
— Nuclear: 0.0%
— Hydro: 91.0%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 6.0%
— Wind: 1.0%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.0%



Sergey Novikov // Shutterstock

Washington D.C.

Panorama of Pennsylvania Avenue and United States Capitol Building

– Energy breakdown:
— Coal: 12.3%
— Gas: 45.7%
— Oil: 0.1%
— Nuclear: 36.9%
— Hydro: 1.6%
— Bioenergy (biomass and biofuels): 1.6%
— Wind: 0.9%
— Geothermal: 0.0%
— Solar (photovoltaic and thermal): 0.0%
— Waste to energy (excluding biomass component): 0.6%

This story originally appeared on Calgary.com and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


Article Topic Follows: Life

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