14 Sustainable Cities to Visit During Your Summer Vacation
Are you worried about making a sizeable carbon footprint by taking a summer vacation? We’re here to tell you that you can travel guilt-free. Rent yourself an electric vehicle, find charging stations along the route and get ready to enjoy yourself at one of these sustainable summer vacation destinations.
If you’re taking a vacation anywhere in the U.S. a sustainable city isn’t too far away. Across the country more local governments are enacting green initiatives that are making cities more sustainable, scenic and healthy.
The Most Sustainable U.S. Cities to Visit on a Summer Vacation
San Francisco, California
San Francisco isn’t just one of the most sustainable cities in the U.S., it’s one of the most sustainable cities in the world. One of the city’s most impressive eco accomplishments is achieving a trash diversion rate of 80%. Another notable fact is the use of residential solar panel systems is twice as high in San Francisco compared to the average American city.
New York City, New York
Despite the massive population that New York City has to support, it’s still one of the most sustainable cities in the country. It’s proof positive that sustainability is possible on a large scale. Actually, changes in the way sizable buildings have to be constructed has played a large part in New York City becoming a leader in sustainability. Plus, there are few cities in the world that can match New York’s extensive public transit system.
Phoenix may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of sustainable cities, but it’s quickly becoming one of the greenest cities in the country, literally. Given the blistering heat that the city faces it’s not surprising to find Phoenix launched an initiative to increase tree coverage by at least 25% by 2030. If you can find some shade and handle the summer heat, Phoenix has a lot to offer summer travelers.
The most sustainable city in the United States right now just might be Portland. Their trash diversion rate is just as good as San Francisco’s and is set to reach 90%. The city also has many other eco-friendly initiatives, which is fully supported by the vast majority of residents. Given the more temperate weather, summer is a great time to visit Portland.
San Diego, California
With so much natural beauty to take in year-round it’s no surprise that San Diego is one of the best sustainable vacation spots in America. In addition, San Diego has ambitious plans to radically reduce its carbon emissions. San Diego is known for having the most zero-energy buildings in the country. Having such amazing weather year-round also helps locals cut energy consumption.
Salt Lake City, Utah
The entire state of Utah is being branded as a must-visit destination for outdoor lovers, many of which support sustainability. Salt Lake City is so serious about conserving land and preserving natural resources it created a special Sustainability Department and a collective of programs known as Salt Lake City Green.
St. Paul, Minnesota
The Land of Lakes is a great escape in the summer, especially if you plan to visit St. Paul, MN. The city has some really impressive population stats. For instance, there are 730 feet of green space for each resident. St. Paul has also set a goal to become one of the first carbon-neutral cities in the Midwest.
Since Boston is a technology hub, it’s only natural that the city would use science to combat carbon emissions. For over a decade, Boston has been a thought leader in city sustainability, and preserving the city’s rich American history is a huge motivator. There’s been a big push to make buildings as sustainable as possible. It’s just one component of Boston’s Climate Action Plan that aims to get the city to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Sustainable Cities for International Travelers
If you’re itching to use your passport this summer, then there are even more sustainable cities to see. The list below includes places around the globe that are making a serious effort to combat climate change.
No list of scenic sustainable cities is complete without Copenhagen. For years it’s been recognized for its sustainability. The perfect example of how Copenhagen steps up sustainability is their impressive public transit system. The city doesn’t just have plenty of public transportation options, it also has electric buses and an equally fantastic biking system. Travelers will be happy to know that around two-thirds of Copenhagen’s hotels are eco-certified, and it’s easy to find restaurants that serve locally harvested foods.
Forest conservation is the biggest issue that led to Madrid becoming one of the most eco-friendly cities in the world. The city also took the bold step of banning all pollution-creating vehicles within Madrid’s urban center.
Zurich has been on the eco-travel radar for some time now. Strict building codes and efficient public transit are at the heart of Zurich’s many green initiatives. Its part of the reason why finding a sustainable hotel is so easy in Zurich. Over 70% are sustainable-certified.
Hosting the Olympic Games kicked Tokyo’s environmental efforts into high gear. They set a goal to power the games completely with renewable energy. Tokyo’s leaders are also working towards having 50% of all new vehicles be zero-emission.
Canberra has been hailed as the greenest city in the world. Australia’s capital city is largely powered by the sun, but other factors that make it sustainable include innovative public transit, great air quality and diverse energy sources. If you’re looking for another sustainable city to visit during your Australian expedition, check out Brisbane. The city is on track to have 40% of its land established as natural habitat that’s protected from development.
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
The World Energy Council has recognized Costa Rica as one of the most sustainable countries in the world, so eco-travelers can’t go wrong with this destination no matter what cities they visit. However, Tortuguero is an eco-lovers paradise that’s not to be missed. The abundance of flowing water allows Costa Rica to generate around 80% of its energy using hydroelectric power. Another 18% of the energy comes from natural geothermal power. It’s close to becoming the first carbon neutral country.
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