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Clean Cities Measure Up Around US, World

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Policy makers have focused recently on how clean cities around the US and around the world.

The United Nations has proposed a new standard for assessing the impact cities have on greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting in Rio de Janeiro in March, UN-Habitat discussed a way that any metropolitan area could assess its own emissions and find a meaningful comparison with other cities.

The core concept of the UN plan is to look at the emissions of about 25 activities typically found in urban life, such as waste management, electricity use or transportation, and then calculate the per capita emissions. The draft document of the plan lists the variables and subvariables for these activities and specifies which units of measurement to use when studying them. The standard would also use, in some places, definitions of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The goal is to produce an "apples-to-apples" comparison of which cities are cleanest.

The US EPA has taken a single variability, clean buildings, and ranked the top 25 cleanest cities. Los Angeles may have a reputation for smoggy freeways, but with 293 Energy Star buildings covering 76 million square feet of floorspace it tops the EPA list. Washington, DC, with 204 Energy Star buildings covering 55.1 million square feet is second, followed by San Francisco and Denver, which jumped from 7th place the previous year. Louisville, Ky., with 35 clean buildings rounds out the list. The survey notes that collectively the buildings on the list save $731.7 million in energy costs and emissions equivalent to about 470,000 homes.

In other news about clean cities:

  • Tokyo Cuts Pollution But Not Growth - New York Times
  • Tokyo Moves Forward With Green Urban Innovation - Time
  • The Green Building Opportunity Index has been released by Cushman & Wakefield and BetterBricks.com
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