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Five Surprisingly Green Places
San Francisco, Portland and New York continue to top the list of greenest U.S. cities, scoring high marks in land use, transportation and energy savings. But lesser-known places, large and small, are making their marks on the green map. Here are a few standouts that may surprise you.
1. Madison, Wisconsin
Madison started the nation’s first curbside newspaper-recycling program in 1968. The city has also hosted the weekly, year-round Dane County Farmers’ market since 1972. Madison has also adopted Natural Step, a program founded in Sweden, whose goal is to maintain thriving societies using sustainable principles.
2. Edison, New jersey
The township of Edison established the Clara Barton-Amboy Avenue Neighborhood Home Loan Program in 2009. It provides affordable home-equity loans to eligible residents of the historic neighborhood, to pay for substantial home repairs that preserve their existing homes and create local jobs.
3. Denton, Texas
Denton protects its public green spaces and environmentally sensitive areas by carefully regulating development, preserving trees, facilitating native plant growth and avoiding the use of chemical pesticides. Denton even employs a full-time urban forester and an environmental crimes officer on its police force.
4. Greensburg, Kansas
After suffering a devastating tornado in May 2007, Greensburg rebuilt green. Today, all but one of the small town’s municipal buildings have the United States Green Building Council (USGBC’s) highest designation, LEED platinum; one is rated silver. Streetlights glow with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The town’s new wind farm now generates more than enough electricity to power its homes and businesses. In addition, many city buildings feature geothermal heating and cooling while paints, finishes and sealants are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
5. Maui, Hawaii
Maui County made the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Smarter Cities to Watch list, thanks to its renewable energy efforts (7 percent of Maui’s total fuel comes from renewables) and water-saving initiatives. Residents can also get water-saving fixtures, such as low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and leak-detection tablets for free, through the county water department.
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