Energy Efficiency and the Urban Forest

Where do energy efficiency and the urban forest converge? In the following two reports, but in seven cities in the U.S. also.

energy efficiency, energy saving

The most energy efficient cities in the U.S.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy recently released its city energy-efficiency scorecard. The scorecard ranks the country’s largest 34 cities on five criteria:

  • local government
  • community initiatives
  • buildings
  • energy, water, utilities, and public benefits programs
  • transportation.

The top-scoring cities for energy efficiency

The top scoring cities are scattered around the country:

  • Boston
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco
  • New York
  • Seattle
  • Austin, Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Minneapolis
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Denver

The report is available here. It’s interesting to learn how these cities are making progress.

I noticed that seven of those 11 cities are also in American Forests’ list of top cities for urban forests. As neither energy efficiency nor urban forests just happen by good fortune, it would seem likely that both results are the result of policy. They’re deliberate.

What are the best cities for treehuggers?

American Forests’ 10 Best list is based on 6 main criteria.

The top-scoring cities for energy efficiency and urban forests

Those seven cities at the top of both lists are:

  • Portland, Oregon
  • New York
  • Seattle
  • Austin, Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Minneapolis
  • Denver

As I wrote in “4 Ideas for Greener Cities,” our urban forests are crucial to making our cities greener, as they:

  • sequester carbon
  • improve air quality
  • moderate heat and save energy
  • moderate high winds
  • filter water and moderate erosion
  • increase real estate values
  • as well as providing benefits to people such as calming us and helping us slow down a bit.

You’ll also find quite a lot of info about increasing home energy efficiency using trees and other plants in our book, “Creating A Sustainable Home: Fast, Cheap, and Easy Ways to Save Energy and Money.”

Great News About Energy and Environmental Restoration

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From an environmental standpoint, there’s plenty to be concerned about. But there’s also great news about energy and environmental restoration. Filmmaker John Liu’s “Green Gold” shows the remarkable restoration of degraded areas in China and Ethiopia. The speed with which degraded landscapes can be stabilized then improved is surprising.


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Amory Lovins’ article from August 15 debunks critical accounts of Germany’s success in using renewable energy. Germany produced nearly 25% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2012. Great to learn what works.