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Where are the world’s coolest “green” cities?

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There’s no set Environment Agency-criteria for determining what makes a city green, but some of the essential factors for ranking the eco-friendliness of a city include the amount of green space, air quality, access to organic products, the percentage of LEED-certified buildings, and any other relevant characteristics that help reduce our carbon footprint. Here’s five cities that are not only green but have that “cool factor”. They’re like the Tesla Motors of cities.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, DenmarkWith acres of green spaces, miles of bicycle routes and state-of-the art architecture, the Nordic city of Copenhagen is one of Europe’s coolest green cities. Over 1.1 million people bike to work, and the inner harbour is so clean that you can even go for a swim (try doing that in New York City’s Hudson River). This Danish capital has blazed the trail with eco-initiatives, such as substantial tax reductions when you opt for electric cars rather than gas powered cars. Its streets are dotted with brasseries that serve up sustainably sourced organic veal and locally sourced dairy. Locals and globetrotters alike can enjoy the spoils of this city without much concern for pollution. All around, Copenhagen has a cool, green vibe that a lot of cities can learn from.

Malmö, Sweden

Malmo, SwedenMalmö is made up of environmentally-conscious neighbourhoods. The Western Harbor neighborhood runs on 100 percent renewable energy from biofuels, hydropower, solar energy, and wind power and all of the buildings have be constructed with sustainable materials. The neighborhood of Augustenborg is well known for its botanical roof gardens to reduce runoff. Plus, it’s the home of world’s first emission-free trains. Sege Park has also undergone an eco-friendly transformation is also powered by renewable energy. Malmö is an aesthetically pleasing city made up with a network of intertwining canals and parks and the sum of its parts create a city that is not only cool enough but green enough to put on this list.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, OregonPortland, Oregon, has been a model of sustainable living for decades – every day in Portland feels like Earth Day. This green city has a smart mix of outdoor and urban spaces. As a matter of fact, Portland has about 90,000 acres of greenspace, including jogging, hiking and biking trails. It also has an urban plan in place to protect over 20 million acres of farms and forest. Portland supplies 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. It even has solar-powered parking meters.

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver, CanadaThe coastal city of Vancouver, Canada, leads the world in hydroelectric energy. It’s also reduced its fossil fuels with tidal, wave, solar and wind energy systems. When it comes to energy-efficient plans, this city hasn’t held back in its test of emerging technologies. Its solar-powered trash compactors are now a mainstay. What makes Vancouver cool? Simply put, Vancouver is Manhattan with mountains.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, USWith its farm-to-table restaurants, tech startups, and mass transit system, the city of San Francisco was long dedicated to the environment before it was cool. This Bay Area city has a goal of 100 percent recycling by 2020 and composts over 500 tons of scraps every day. Its silver LEED-certified Major League Baseball stadium is the first solar-powered stadium. It even has eco-friendly concessions, so patrons can munch on those world famous, energy-efficient green garlic fries.

By Patrick Charuza

Photographs by Wayne National Forest, John Anes, News Oresond, Geek2Nurse, TDLucase5000, and Sudheer G

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