Greenopia Releases Comprehensive State Sustainability Rankings

Greenopia, the guide to green living, released this week one of the most comprehensive rankings of US states based on sustainability. Evaluating 10-20,000 data points, Greenopia assigned each state zero to four “leafs,” based on ten broad measures of environmental friendliness and sustainability.

Top honors went to Washington State, followed by Vermont, New York, Oregon and California. View the complete list here.

“This was a tremendous undertaking because of the variety of ways a State can be evaluated environmentally,” said Gay Browne, Founder of Greenopia. “Not only are there many criteria that must be considered, but it is important to make sure that the data between states was collected using the same set of assumptions.”

Nevada was a surprise entry in sixth place, while Louisiana ranked last (the rankings were compiled before the recent oil spill).

“We were shocked at how resource efficient [Nevada] was in spite of Las Vegas being known as a natural resource hog,” said Douglas Mazeffa, Research Director for Greenopia, in an email. “This is not to say that Nevada can’t get greener (it certainly can), but our findings suggest maybe the state gets a bit of a bad rap.”

The report used ten broad measures to rank states: air quality, water quality, recycling rate, number of LEED buildings, number of green businesses, per capita water consumption, per capita energy consumption, per capita emissions, renewable energy generation, and how progressive its state legislature has been in adopting green measures.

While measuring state legislatures on their progressive nature is not an exact science, most of the data came from official government data. “We just cleaned everything up and normalized them, so the study was completely unbiased,” said Mazeffa.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.