To determine the cities promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle, WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across four key categories: 1) Environment, 2) Transportation, 3) Energy Sources and 4) Lifestyle & Policy.
Irvine ranked No. 1 in the nation in the Energy So
urces category, which looks at a city’s share of electricity from renewable sources, solar installations per capita and number of smart-energy policies and initiatives. Irvine’s lowest ranking was No. 27 for Transportation, which includes factors such as commute time, share of commuters who drive alone, walk and bike score, miles of bike lanes, intersection density alternative fuel stations per capita, and annual fuel consumption.
The study used an additional 26 key “green” indicators, graded on a 100 point score with 100 being the greenest practices and policies. Irvine’s highest rankings among the 26 indicators include No. 1 in the country for several criteria: water quality, alternative fuel stations per capita, share of electricity from renewable sources, and share of green hotels. The city was ranked No. 2 for green space (26.35%), and No. 6 for bike score.
The city’s poorest rankings were related to driving: excess fuel consumption (No. 74) and commute time by car (No. 81). Each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities. The poorest performing cities were Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi, and St. Louis.
Organics first finale?
One of Irvine’s green initiatives was the elimination of the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides on city parks, landscaping and open space in favor of organic alternatives. A report in the OC Register indicates that a provision in a federal farm bill may put that “organics first” policy at risk, blocking cities and other local governments from making their own rules restricting pesticides. Councilwoman Christina Shea was quoted in the story, noting “how important this [pesticide ban] was for our community overall,” Shea said. “If this goes into place, we could kind of see it snowball into a lot of other local control issues.”
While the city of Irvine is the 4th ranking green city in the nation, UC Irvine retains its first-place position as the greenest university in the U.S., while also being recognized as a world leader for sustainability. For the third consecutive year, UCI earned the No. 1 spot in Sierra magazine’s “Cool Schools” ranking.
UCI the only campus to score in the top 10 for nine consecutive years, placing first in 2014 and 2015 and tying for No. 1 this year with Vermont’s Green Mountain College on the strength of its curriculum, research, campus operations and public engagement.
The official publication of the Sierra Club, the magazine initiated the college sustainability rankings in 2007 because – as the biggest purchasers and employers in many communities – campuses can create demand for green services and products and lead by example. This year, Sierra rated 269 institutions in 19 categories, ranging from teaching and research to public engagement and campus operations.
UCI also received recognition from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) prestigious STARS program, receiving the esteemed STARS Platinum rating, one of only four campuses to do so. The others are Stanford University, Colorado State University and University of New Hampshire.
STARS is an acronym for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. UCI claimed first place overall for doctoral-granting universities, accruing the highest merit score among all North American schools. UCI also ranked No. 1 in green buildings and in research (the latter a tie with UC San Diego).
The rankings were released recently in the Sustainable Campus Index, which recognizes top-performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas related to academics, engagement, operations and administration.
“UCI has a long history of environmental and sustainability leadership dating back to the Nobel prize-winning research of F. Sherwood Rowland into the depletion of the ozone layer almost five decades ago. His work led to the development and growth of our campus culture of sustainable practices, groundbreaking research and extraordinary accomplishments that has placed us at the very forefront of American higher education,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “These two latest honors serve to confirm the great success of all our efforts in the classroom, in the laboratory, and in the community.”