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America’s 10 greenest cities
Silvia Ascarelli | MarketWatch

 

Terrence Horan/MarketWatch

10. Jersey City

Score: 55

 

“Maybe it’s a surprise to some people,” Mayor Fulop says about being his city being on the list. “But it’s not a surprise to us. Our goal is to move up the list.” It seems to be on the right track.

 

Jersey City has changed dramatically since the days of that burning landfill, now being cleaned up to become the site of at least 4,000 residential units and an extension of the city’s light-rail system. Another contaminated site, next to then PPG Superfund site in the heart of the city, is expected to reopen as a 17-acre park by the end of this year, increasing the city’s green space by 10% in one stroke.

 

Gentrification has turned parts of the city into what some call New York’s sixth borough. The city has aggressively changed zoning rules to allow for greater density and require fewer parking spaces; a 70-story tower is now going up in Journal Square, above a transit line. Among Jersey City’s many other environmental initiatives is a planned bike-share system of 350-400 bikes that would be linked to New York’s Citibike program.

 

But more work remains to be done. The American Lung Association gives Hudson County (Jersey City is the county seat) an F on ozone levels (but improving dramatically over the past 15 years) and a C on particle pollution over a 24-hour period. Fulop said Jersey City is densely populated and heavily used by trucks accessing ports.

 

One other Jersey City tidbit: Urban legend says former Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa may have been dumped under the Pulaski Skyway.

 

9. Seattle

Score: 55.5

 

NerdWallet praises its air quality, residential density and above-average numbers who commute by transit, on foot and by bike.

 

8. Orlando, Fla.

Score: 56.1

 

The home of Disney World has some of the best air quality among cities on the list. But neither solar nor public transit score well.

 

7. Boston

Score: 58.2

 

NerdWallet highlighted the 15% of residents who walk to work. Even in the winter.

 

6. New York City

Score: 58.4

 

High density, good transit. A surprise: 7.2 of every 10,000 homes still uses coal for heat, the most of any city in the top 25.

 

5. Miami

Score: 58.9

 

Carpooling rates highly compared with most other cities in the top 10. Air quality is good. But only 11% get to work on public transit, the second-lowest figure after Orlando.

 

4. San Francisco

Score: 59.3

 

Solar is big here; 13.8 of every 10,000 homes use it, double the nationwide rate.

 

3. Arlington, Va.

Score: 62.8

 

Half of the residential buildings in this city outside Washington, D.C. have 10 or more units, trailing only New York City and Honolulu.

 

2. Washington, D.C.

Score 64.3

 

NerdWallet singles out the 38% who get to work on public transit, trailing only New York City and Jersey City, and low levels of pollution from heating fuels. The 4% who ride bicycles to work is on the higher end too.

 

1. Honolulu

Score: 83.6

 

The capital of Hawaii had the best air quality among the 150 cities, NerdWallet examined. Solar heating was by far the highest among the top 25 cities, at 101.9 homes per 10,000.