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Cities with Innovative Green Initiatives

Do you live green? We found cities all over America that are working overtime to be clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Green initiatives like waste management, forest restoration, natural resource protection, public transportation and alternative energy projects can have positive effects both on the environment and on the budget. Our picks for cities with green initiatives have all this and more, and their success comes from involving the entire community in the effort to be as green as possible.

1. Rochester, New York

Rochester’s Green Team developed a range of services designed to keep the city clean and protect the area’s natural resources. Since 2005, the Forestry team in the Department of Environmental Services has been dedicated to making Rochester a “City in a Forest” by maintaining nearly 70,000 trees on the city streets, as well as in the parks and cemeteries. Project Green, a decades-long initiative in the making, will convert abandoned or vacant residential areas in the city into green space like parks and community gardens. Rochester also has an ongoing green initiative series called Flower City Looking Good, a yearly community development program that challenges residents to improve their health and embrace their inner nature-lover through fun activities and contests. The city is so committed to environmental awareness that even City Hall is getting a green makeover with the City Hall Green Roof Project.

2. Reno, Nevada

The Biggest Little City in the World is also one of the greenest little cities in the world. The city has a number of wind and solar installations throughout the city that help reduce energy costs and pollution. These installations take advantage of the abundant natural resources in Nevada, like 300 sunny days per year on average and strong wind patterns, and have saved the city more than one million dollars annually since 2011. Reno is in the process of implementing an improved, single-stream recycling service, which will be enhanced by Compressed Natural Gas collection trucks that reduce noise and greenhouse gas emissions. Waste Management will also be introducing 25 Solar Powered Trash Compactors, which will help decrease the amount of trash being picked up, and provide a necessary community recycling and waste disposal service. Reno encourages its residents to cut down on carbon emissions by biking around the city with seasonal events and benefits for bike-riders.

3. Kirkland, Washington

Kirkland is already known for its scenery, but the local government hopes to keep it that way with a community-wide approach to green initiatives. The Green Kirkland Partnership is a group comprised of local businesses, community members, nonprofits and the City of Kirkland that hopes to preserve the natural beauty of Kirkland with a 20-year forest restoration program. Members of the partnership and volunteers plant new native plants and remove deadly, invasive ones all year round. Kirkland’s plan to protect its natural resources involves the Planning Department, the Public Works Department and the Parks & Community Services Department all working together to ensure the city will remain green for a long time. The Parks & Community Services Department heads up the local plant restoration project, while the Planning Department manages urban forest maintenance, steadily moving towards sustainable forest management. The Public Works Department handles waste management, prevents water pollution and works to maintain water quality, while also managing the city’s green business and development, and climate protection programs. Community residents are called upon to get involved at every step of the way.

4. Chandler, Arizona

The green initiatives at work in Chandler can be divided into four groups: home, business, community and city. Environmental improvement starts at home with recycling and water conservation. Water conservation is especially important in a desert community like Chandler, and the city offers irrigation workshops, conservation tips and water reclamation programs. Chandler has a number of green buildings and businesses, and the city encourages local businesses to design with conservation and sustainability in mind. The Infill Incentive Program will help improve older commercial buildings in Chandler by investing in their renovation. Since 2009, the city’s Green Team has been working to improve Chandler’s efficiency by decreasing energy costs and using resources like solar energy. Chandler residents can raise their environmental awareness at the Environmental Education Center, and enjoy outdoor activities in Veterans Oasis Park. Alternative transit options, like bus and light rail, bike routes, and convenient, cheap services for the elderly or the disabled, help reduce air pollution in the city and surrounding areas.
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