Speaking of walkability, the current issue of Fast Company highlights Chicago, Stockholm, Portand and Vancouver as Green Leaders in their 2007 Fast Cities index.
Here’s why the leaders were chosen:
Chicago: Since 1999, the city has planted 2.5 million square feet of heat-reducing rooftop gardens, more than all other U.S. cities combined. Mayor Richard Daley has overseen a downtown renaissance and the planting of 500,000 new trees. In the wake of a deadly 1995 heat wave, he has also launched a raft of aggressive initiatives to cool the city while conserving energy–and beat New York to an environmental action plan by two years.
Stockholm: Home to almost 2,500 green-sector companies and powered by the research output of its Karolinska, Beijer, and IVL institutes, Stockholm is the fuel cell under the hood of a country that aims to be oil-free by 2010. Its Hammarby Sj√∂stad district is a living eco-laboratory of 4,000 apartments with quadruple-glazed windows, ovens and cookers that run on biogas from wastewater, and central heating wired to photovoltaics.
Portland: Three decades ago, Portland became a case study on how to stuff sprawl when it enacted strict limits on urban growth. Today, it’s at the forefront of the “eat local” revolution, in which individuals and restaurants buy directly from area farmers to preserve livelihoods and open space. With 13 farmer’s markets, and nearby world-class vineyards, residents not only buy local but they eat and drink well too.
Vancouver: Vancouver is home to a booming electronic-gaming industry and a bustling port–not to mention the 2010 Olympics. Its EcoDensity initiative aims to focus that growth by developing more crowded neighborhoods at the city center. The dual goal: to build sustainable neighborhoods with the scale to make green energy technologies affordable and to preserve surrounding forest and mountain ecosystems.