Ranking Systems Multiply for Measuring “Green” Cities

San Francisco, CA (July 23, 2012) – The Trust for Public Land recently launched ParkScore, a rating systems to measure how well the 40 largest US. Cities are meeting the need for parks.  Using advanced GIS technology, ParkScore produces in-depth data to guide local improvements.  There are similar ratings for urban trees, dubbed a Tree Report Card, and a new “Green City Index” measures environmental performance in 27 major U.S. and Canadian cities. With more ways to measure, rank, and rate city “green-ness,” how do you assess your city?

Top cities in the ParkScore ranking were San Francisco, Sacramento, New York, Boston, and Washington, DC.  In evaluating park systems, experts at The Trust for Public Land considered every publicly owned park space within the 40 largest U.S cities—including land owned by regional, state, and federal agencies. The analysis is based on the three most important characteristics of an effective park system: acreage, services and investment, and access.

The Tree Report Card, developed by Casey Trees and now in its fourth year, measures the quantity and quality of Washington D.C.’s trees and tree canopy and public and private efforts to expand and sustain the urban forest. The report card uses four performance metrics: tree coverage, tree health, tree planting, and tree protection. Each spring on Arbor Day the report card is released to raise awareness and encourage engagement to help expand and sustain the District’s trees.

The Green City Index, a research project conducted for Siemens by the Economist Intelligence Unit, attempts to measure the environmental performance of 27 major U.S. and Canadian cities across nine categories.  As more and more of the population resides in cities (over 90% of Americans), this urbanization poses tough challenges for infrastructure and the environment.

The Green City Index overall ratings are based on composite numerical scores derived from ratings for the separate categories of carbon dioxide, energy, land use, buildings, transport, water, waste, air, and environmental governance. Based on their evaluation, the top cities in their “Green City Index” were these:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Vancouver
  3. New York City
  4. Seattle
  5. Denver

The least green, starting with the lowest rated, were these:

  1. Detroit
  2. St. Louis
  3. Cleveland
  4. Phoenix
  5. Pittsburgh

Related Resources
Trust for Public Land ParkScore
Tree Report Card for Urban Forestry in Washington DC
The Greenest and Least Green Cities in the U.S. and Canada
Just How Green is the New Green Cities Index?
Green City Index