Moral Low Ground

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‘The Moral High Ground’: San Francisco Named ‘Greenest’ City in North America

When it comes to national and even international “best of” lists, San Francisco is used to being at or near the top. But the latest accolade to be bestowed upon the beautiful City by the Bay has residents particularly proud. According to a study commissioned by Siemens and the Economist Intelligence Unit, San Francisco is the greenest city in the United States and Canada.

According to Reuters and the San Francisco Chronicle, the study ranked 27 major cities in nine different environmental categories: carbon emissions, energy, land use, buildings, transportation, water, waste, air quality and environmental governance. San Francisco performed strongly in almost every category. The city fared especially well in the ‘waste’ category, largely due to mandatory composting and recycling laws– the very sorts of “nanny state” measures derided by conservatives choking on the foul air in not-so-green places. The city also scored well in energy efficient buildings, air pollution and public transportation. That last one may come as a surprise to San Franciscans who regularly deal with the sometimes harrowing Muni system.

Rounding out the five greenest cities are Vancouver, New York, Seattle and Denver. The least green are the Midwestern cities of Cleveland, St. Louis and Detroit.

The study’s findings were announced at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, where San Francisco Department of the Environment director Melanie Nutter said “we worked hard to get where we are, but if we’re going to meet all of our audacious goals, we’re going to have to continue pushing the envelope.”

“I believe we were named the greenest city in North America because San Franciscans are always willing to go the distance and find new ways of making our city a more sustainable place,” Mayor Ed Lee told the Chronicle.

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