Sign In

50+ Greenest Cities in the United States

50+ Greenest Cities in the United States

While the United States may not rank among the top countries in renewable energy adoption on a national scale, numerous cities and towns are defying this trend through their proactive green initiatives. More than 50 towns in the United States have achieved 100% renewable energy usage, showcasing their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability. Here is a brief overview of the greenest cities in the United States, celebrating their successful journey towards sustainable energy practices.

Burlington, Vermont

A pavement with people lined with green trees and brown brick buildings
Photo by Ronan Furuta on Unsplash.

A colorful city with an even more vibrant life, Burlington delights tourists with the perfect combination of old-timey sightseeing places and modern architecture. The city attracts its fair share of tourists, which, although it benefited it greatly, also led to environmental pollution.

The city is naturally blessed with luscious greenery and sourced its power from wind turbines. Still, it aimed to protect and conserve the environment, leading to a motivated shift to renewable energy.

The city was the first to get to 100% renewable, mainly from wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, and the McNeil biomass facility. The city has successfully utilized its surroundings to benefit Mother Nature and keep a hold of its charming attraction.

Aspen, Colorado

Snowy mountain with ski lift looking down in a snow covered town
Photo credit: Chase Baker via Unsplash.

Nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Aspen is a popular ski resort town. It attracts thousands of tourists yearly, so the municipality is dedicated to providing a top-notch experience.

Because of its immense popularity and unique location, Aspen was the third town in the US to transition to 100% renewable energy.

Aspen’s intention to become renewable didn’t appear out of thin air; the town and community collaborated to drive the shift so the area could protect and conserve the environment while maintaining its tourist status.

Its transition was part of a decade-long goal. The town utilizes wind, solar, and geothermal power to function its facilities.

READ ON – The list of sustainable eco-lodges in Colorado.

Greensburg, Kansas

A large grain silo and a pick-up truck on a large green field.
Photo credit: Krista Joy Montgomery via Unsplash.

Greensburg is one of the U.S.’ few secluded cities, but its transformation to a renewable state has gradually increased in popularity. Greensburg was never a densely populated area, but sadly, its population dropped to 714 after the devastating tornado that hit the city in 2007.

The tornado was one of the deadliest in U.S. history, and unfortunately, it claimed countless lives and homes in its wake. After the rural city began to recover from the horrible effects of the heartless tornado, a city-wide sentiment carried by Mayor Bob Dixon initiated its transition into a sustainable city.

Almost a decade after this decision, all electricity generated by wind energy. Greensburg is actively working on its 20-year Sustainable Comprehensive Plan. The city currently utilizes wind energy, solar power, and biodiesel generators in case of emergencies.

Ithaca, New York

Colorful buildings and people walking on the street
Photo credit: Ty Finck via Unsplash.

A quaint city in the more energetic state, Ithaca is filled with lush green trees, gurgling waterfalls, and Victorian-esque buildings. Naturally, the city is a popular tourist destination, which prompted citizens to seek green initiatives.

Interestingly, the city’s promise of becoming sustainable and renewable spans almost three decades; it planned to reduce its carbon footprint in hopes of reducing greenhouse gases.

It restarted its efforts to go green in 2012 with city-wide efforts to purchase renewable energy to compensate for 100% of its electricity demands. A couple of years later, Ithaca is wholly sustainable and utilizes renewable energy.

READ ON – The list of sustainable eco-lodges in New York.

Juneau, Alaska

A town with smaller buildings are nested at the foot of a green mountain
Photo credit: Robert Linder via Unsplash.

Juneau, one of the world’s most serene port cities, boasts luscious hills, snowy peaks, and unimaginable glacial beauty. It is close to one of Alaska’s National Parks, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve but only approachable by boat or plane. Juneau’s unique and attractive features make it a popular tourist destination, now one of the few completely sustainable ones.

Its proximity to glaciers and snowy mountains made this city cold throughout the year. Its residents began complaining of high heating fuel costs, a fixed necessity.

Realizing the city required a sustainable and long-lasting heating solution, supportive city leaders initiated green projects where residents were provided low-energy heat pumps.

The city simultaneously worked toward a sustainable future by adopting climate policies in 2011 and 2018. 

READ ON – The list of sustainable eco-lodges in Alaska.

Rock Port, Missouri

Wind farm blue sky and green plains
Photo credit: Peeter Viisma via Canva Pro.

A U.S. history’s first, Missouri’s Rock Port is the first city to transition to a 100% wind-powered community. The quaint city lined with dainty buildings was always blessed with the perfect environment to transition to wind turbines.

However, it took some time to realize this, so the city remained at a standstill for a couple of years until it erected wind turbines in 2008 and completely shifted to sourcing energy from there.

Its decision to become self-sufficient proved effective and beneficial; the community saved much on payback per acre, generating a stable revenue.

Kodiak Island, Alaska

Stunning rocky seaside with pine trees
Photo credit: Grant Lechner via Unsplash.

While Kodiak Island is not part of any of the popular Alaska National Parks, but it is home to a prevalent wildlife that attracts thousands of tourists yearly.

Today, the island is entirely renewable and sustainable, but unfortunately, its decision was out of necessity.

A few years ago, with rising concerns about climate change, Kodiak Island witnessed the suffering of wildlife, invoking concern and worry about the environment. Its frigid temperatures simultaneously generated one of the city’s highest heating fuel costs, increasing uproar.

Realizing the city must transition to a renewable future to survive, Kodiak Island set a goal in 2008 to be at least 95% renewable by 2020. The city-wide efforts proved more than effective; by the time of its goal’s deadline, the city had achieved 99.7% renewable status and is continuously working for more.

READ ON – The list of sustainable eco-lodges in Alaska.

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

A city in the night with lights on surrounded by mountains.
Photo credit: Intricate Explorer via Unsplash.

With a population of just under 10,000, Glenwood Springs in Colorado has a unique blessing: nestled in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by the White River National Forest, and home to hundreds of natural hot springs.

Its gorgeous features became a concern when the resort city realized it must work to protect its environment. Otherwise, it could severely damage its surroundings.

The city realized its predicament, and a community-driven motivation moved city officials to adopt a sustainable plan. Beginning green initiatives around 2009, the city had become 35% renewable by 2013 and successfully 100% by 2019. Although Glenwood Springs has achieved its goals, the city still works to reduce its carbon footprint.

READ ON – The list of sustainable eco-lodges in Colorado.

Georgetown, Texas

Aerial view of a small town covered in snow
Photo credit: Zachary Edmundson via Unsplash.

The most impressive green city, Georgetown, accomplished its goals in a few years.

The city had been experiencing high energy costs for decades but shared one of the worst just before 2017. This, coupled with the devastating effects on the environment, which subsequently affected residents’ health, broke the camel’s back, and the city vowed to become 100% renewable.

Amazingly, after just a few years, the city managed to accomplish its goals; multiple contracts with renewable energy providers have now made this city 100% renewable, and it’s only working to improve its conditions.

The city is putting more energy back into the grid than it consumes but plans to source 30% of its power from renewables by 2030.

47 Green Cities in California

California state aims to cut emissions by at least 80% by 2050, as outlined by the Global Warming Solutions Act that was passed in 2006. According to this Act, there will be cap-and-trade to reduce emissions across various sectors, such as cement plants, power plants, and refineries.

The Sunshine State has implemented useful measures to address climate change, such as committing to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and emphasizing on zero-emission vehicles.

Additionally, California has mandated a renewable portfolio standard according to which 33% of the state’s electricity was to be generated from renewable resources by 2020.

However, California is way ahead of schedule to meet this target, all thanks to its initiatives like the Million Solar Roofs program and the installation of large-scale solar plants​.

Aerial view of wind farm on the hills near Sacramento California
Wind farms near Sacramento California – Photo credit: Chris Linnett via Unsplash.

Following are some of the greenest cities in California buying 100% renewable electricity from green energy providers such as Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Monterey Bay Community Power, or Clean Power Alliance reported by the 100% Renewable Energy Atlas:

  • South Pasadena
  • West Hollywood
  • Culver City
  • Rolling Hills Estates
  • Santa Monica
  • Thousand Oaks
  • Ojai
  • Oxnard
  • Ventura County
  • Ventura City
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Morro Bay
  • Greenfield
  • Hollister
  • San Benito County
  • Soledad
  • Gonzales
  • Gilroy
  • San Juan Bautista
  • Morgan Hill
  • Salinas
  • Monterey County
  • Watsonville
  • Milpitas
  • Santa Clara County
  • Campbell
  • Marina
  • Los Gatos
  • Monte Sereno
  • Sand City
  • Seaside
  • Sunnyvale
  • Saratoga
  • Cupertino
  • Capitola
  • Mountain View
  • Monterey
  • Pacific Grove
  • Scotts Valley
  • Los Altos
  • Santa Cruz County
  • Santa Cruz
  • Carmel
  • Los Altos Hills
  • Palo Alto
  • Albany
  • Portola Valley

This article showcases the growing trend of U.S. cities transitioning to 100% renewable energy, reflecting a significant shift in urban environmental policy. These green cities are pioneering in reducing carbon footprints and addressing climate change. Their success stories, driven by community efforts and innovative energy solutions, serve as inspiring models for other regions and set a precedent for a greener, more sustainable future in urban development.

A woman sitting on a mountain. Behind her is a lake.
Travel Writer | Website

Emese Maczko is a travel blogger behind Eco Lodges Anywhere. Having explored several destinations around Europe, the US, Indonesia, and Australia, and resided in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg, Emese possesses a keen understanding of diverse cultures and an appreciation for the beauty of each destination she visits. She advocates for sustainable travel and ecotourism.