The 38 greenest cities in North America

Of the more than 19,000 towns and cities in North America, 38 are greener than the rest, according to a list compiled by Calgary.com based on data from the Carbon Disclosure Project.

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Solar power plant with skyline in background

Wang An Qi // Shutterstock

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.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Historic Michigan Theater in Downtown, Ann Arbor

Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

- 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%

Boston, Massachusetts

Recycling bins and trash can in Boston, Massachusetts

2p2play // Shutterstock

- 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%

Boulder, Colorado

Aerial View Of Boulder, Colorado

MIRAJA DESIGN // Shutterstock

- 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%

Calgary, Alberta

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

Ramon Cliff // Shutterstock

- 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%

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill

Grindstone Media Group // Shutterstock

- 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%

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio skyline with John Roebling bridge

Agnieszka Gaul // Shutterstock

- 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%

Cleveland, Ohio

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

Kenneth Sponsler // Shutterstock

- 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%

Dallas, Texas

LimeBike parked in a row in Dallas

Dorti // Shutterstock

- 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%

Encinitas, California

Encinitas sign and trees

DBSOCAL // Shutterstock

- 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%

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville tourist visitor information center storefront view

shuttersv // Shutterstock

- 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%

Flagstaff, Arizona

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

Real Window Creative // Shutterstock

- 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%

Fort Collins, Colorado

Eagle statue and fountain in Fort Collins

Page Light Studios // Shutterstock

- 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%

Fremont, California

Sunset over an empty road and store fronts

John Roche // Shutterstock

- 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%

Hayward, California

Hayward water tower in the evening from above

SnapASkyline // Shutterstock

- 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%

Houston, Texas

Bicyclists cross wooden bridge in Buffalo Bayou Park

Nate Hovee // Shutterstock

- 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%

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana State Capitol Building in Indianapolis

Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

- 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%

Iowa City, Iowa

Old Capitol building downtown Iowa City

Suzanne Tucker // Shutterstock

- 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%

Kitchener, Ontario

An aerial view of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Harold Stiver // Shutterstock

- 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%

Lexington, Massachusetts

A white fence and colonial home in Lexington, MA

Keith J Finks // Shutterstock

- 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%

Los Angeles, California

A Metro bike station in Los Angeles

Juan Llauro // Shutterstock

- 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%

Louisville, Kentucky

The Louisville, Kentucky skyline with pedestrian walkway in front

Harold Stiver // Shutterstock

- 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%

Miami, Florida

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

Steven Frame // Shutterstock

- 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%

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

American coliseum in Philadelphia with solar panel

Robert Vincelli // Shutterstock

- 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%

Piedmont, California

Piedmont neighborhood in California

BondRocketImages // Shutterstock

- 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%

Saanich, British Columbia

Saanich Peninsula and Cordova Bay on Vancouver Island

pr2is // Shutterstock

- 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%

St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul skyline in Minnesota

LAM-Photography // Shutterstock

- 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%

San Francisco, California

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

Michael Vi // Shutterstock

- 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%

San Jose, California

Urban landscape in downtown San Jose

Sundry Photography // Shutterstock

- 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%

San Luis Obispo, California

Aerial view of Bishop peak and Cerro San Luis Obispo

joojoob27 // Shutterstock

- 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%

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica pier with solar panels

Tero Vesalainen // Shutterstock

- 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%

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Saskatoon cityscape on sunny day

Scott Prokop // Shutterstock

- 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%

Seattle, Washington

The bike lane of a street in downtown Seattle

The Image Party // Shutterstock

- 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%

Somerville, Massachusetts

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

Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

- 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%

Surrey, British Columbia

Aerial of Surrey City Centre in British Columbia

EB Adventure Photography // Shutterstock

- 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%

Takoma Park, Maryland

Park bench in Takoma Park, Maryland

SHTBCB // Shutterstock

- 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%

Toronto, Ontario

Bike share Toronto docking station with one bike

DoctorIce Photography // Shutterstock

- 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%

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada

Dan Breckwoldt // Shutterstock

- 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%

Washington D.C.

Panorama of Pennsylvania Avenue and United States Capitol Building

Sergey Novikov // Shutterstock

- 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.

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