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Best Green Cities

Country Home magazine, in conjunction with Sperling's BestPlaces, reveals that Burlington, Vermont is the 2007 Best Green Place to live in America.

Burlington is located on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain between the Adirondack and Green Mountains in northwest Vermont and has a population of 40,000. With programs like Burlington Eco Info Project, the community of Burlington, including the residents, businesses and government, values a green lifestyle and makes it a priority.

"We are seeing a real interest, by both our readers and the marketplace, in exploring a green lifestyle," said Editor-in-Chief Carol Sheehan. "We wanted to find out who in America is actually taking action, where they are, and what they are doing."

Best Green Places
1. Burlington, VT
2. Ithaca, NY
3. Corvallis, OR
4. Springfield, MA
5. Wenatchee, WA
6. Charlottesville, VA
7. Boulder, CO
8. Madison, WI
9. Binghamton, NY
10. Champaign-Urbana, IL
11. Ann Arbor, MI
12. San Diego, CA
13. La Crosse, WI
14. Pittsfield, MA
15. Eau Claire, WI
16. Durham, NC
17. Norwich-New London, CT
18. Eugene, OR
19. San Francisco, CA
20. Chico, CA
21. Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA
22. Barnstable Town, MA
23. Utica-Rome, NY
24. Missoula, MT
25. Asheville, NC

See complete list

The Best Green Places study, which is based on data discovered by Sperling's BestPlaces, examines 24 data metrics in 5 major categories -- including air and watershed quality, mass transit usage, power usage, farmers markets, organic producers, and number of green-certified buildings -- to determine which metro areas are the best places to live a green life. Sperling's BestPlaces ranked the 379 major metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Over 80 percent of all U.S. residents live in these 379 metro areas.

Data was collected from sources which include the Census Bureau, the U.S. Green Building Council, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the GreenPeople.org online directory.

Among its unique green attributes, Burlington has developed a compost facility that collects food scraps from restaurants, supermarkets, institutions and food manufacturers, and the yard clippings and leaves from local residents and landscapers. Once finished composting, local farmers, gardeners and landscapers purchase this nutrient rich soil to use.

Over 16 percent of Ithaca residents (or 5,000 people) walk to work Ð the highest percentage in the nation. Combine that with bike riders, mass transit users and home office workers and Ithaca has the greenest commuters.

In Corvallis, over 15 percent residents, as well as the city government, purchase renewable energy. Corvallis was the first city on the West Coast to achieve the Green Power Community designation from the U.S. EPA. The achievement was met after the Corvallis City Council passed a resolution encouraging residents to switch to Ôgreen power.'

Springfield's ReStore accepts donations home improvement materials and sells them to the public at low prices in a convenient retail setting. Inventory includes used and salvaged materials and surplus stock from the building industry.

Wentachee is dedicated to teaching young people about alternative energy resources. Each year at the world's only Solar Drag Race, high school and college students, build and race battery-less, sunlight-propelled dragsters for a chance to win scholarships.

The Charlottesville community puts a value on trees, parks, greenspace, streams and biodiversity. In an effort to balance the natural and built environment and practice sustainability, Charlottesville encourages the use of green roofs, rainwater harvesting, porous paving and rain gardens. These concepts are being demonstrated by the city to encourage adoption in parks and public spaces.

Boulder has the country's best organic food supply. The state's largest farmers' market is in Boulder and runs from April to November and is backed by Whole Foods and a network of co-ops and local producers.

In Madison, the Eco-Fruit project, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has both policy and field components that enable Wisconsin fruit growers to reduce pesticide use without sacrificing fruit quality. In the Eco-Fruit project's first two years, growers reduced pesticide risk by 58 percent and increased their reliance on Integrated Pest Management strategies by 13 percent.

Binghamton nonprofit organizations extensively promote healthy and organic eating habits. One volunteer group, Club VEG reaches out to educate the public, health care professionals, and health organizations about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Renewable Energy Initiative at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is working to meet the state's renewable portfolio standard which requires that, by 2006, at least 2% of the electricity sold to Illinois customers be generated from renewable resources. The amount of electricity from renewable resources is required to increase at least by 1% annually, reaching at least 8% in 2012 and 16% in 2020.