How America's Largest 50 Cities Measure Up, from Portland to Mesa

Top City Trends and Innovations: Bicycling, a Shift Back to Downtowns, City Forestation, Car-Free Streets on Weekends and Others

SAN FRANCISCO - Forget red and blue; America's 50 biggest cities are thinking green, according to the definitive ranking of city sustainability released today by , the largest online community dedicated to healthy, sustainable living. The 2008 SustainLane U.S. City Rankings-topped by Portland, Ore.-reveal which cities are increasingly self-sufficient, prepared for the unexpected and taking steps toward preserving and enhancing their quality of life. Visit for the detailed report, city best practices and sustainability tools.

Based on 16 economic, environmental and green/clean tech categories, the SustainLane U.S. City Rankings factor in each city's ability to maintain healthy air, drinking water, parks and public transit systems, as well as a robust, sustainable local economy with green building, farmers markets, renewable energy and alternative fuels. Introduced in 2005, the City Rankings have been a catalyst for change. In fact, both the median and average scores have increased significantly across all cities surveyed since 2005.

"The SustainLane U.S. City Rankings speak, first and foremost, to the local leadership found across America and how mayors and city councils are preparing their cities for resource deficits due to high gas and energy prices, drought, rising food prices and other issues," says SustainLane Media CEO James Elsen. "It has been proven that good, strong local leadership can directly improve residents' quality of life. During an election year especially, it's important that Americans applaud the steps taken in their municipalities while asking for even bolder forward steps to improve their communities."

Is Your City Keeping Up? The 2008 City Ranking 'Mega-Trends'

  1. More Bicycling: There are 12.3% more cyclists across the US year-over-year (2004-2005 per U.S. City Rankings data). The cities racing ahead: Portland, NYC, Oakland, D.C., Minneapolis, Columbus.
  2. Revitalizing downtowns: Cities across the country like Columbus, Oakland and Philadelphia are livening up downtowns and creating areas with high density, mixed use space, infill redevelopment and transit. This marks a "Back to the Future" historic shift from suburbs back to cities.
  3. Trains making a comeback: New light rail and other public transit infrastructure investments lead to more dense, energy efficient and livable cities. Phoenix, Charlotte, N.C., Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, NYC, Detroit (announced 7/08), Houston, Albuquerque, Denver, Dallas and Austin are paving the way.
  4. Mainstreaming of green movement: More city governments are getting up to speed on high level sustainability officer appointments, climate change plans, adaptation studies, biodiesel, green building and more. Houston, Atlanta and Columbus are among those on the move.
  5. Alternative/Renewable Energy: Wind and solar energy production and energy conservation are priorities in Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Houston, Austin and Sacramento, and are being looked at as possibilities across nearly every city interviewed
  6. More Neighborhood/Community Groups: Citizens are joining together to solve problems caused by rising fuel prices (300% price increase over the last five years) and climate change. The result: community gardens, creating livable spaces, anaerobic digesters, etc. are found in Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago and Detroit.