Sustainable cities to watch in 2012

Think of sustainability, and San Francisco is probably the first city to come to mind. But a new crop of green urban centers is emerging, and they’re not where you might think.

Leon Kaye, editor of, recently published a list of his picks for emerging sustainable cities to watch in 2012. Some spots were to be expected, like Detroit, with its preponderance of urban renewal projects, and Accra, which recently topped Siemens’ and Economist Intelligence Unit’s index of Africa’s greenest cities.

But there were also a few wild cards. Mexico City made the list for its 10-point Climate Action Program, which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7 million metric tones between 2008 and 2012. The plan included massive improvements to the public transportation system, including the construction of Latin America’s largest rail system and investments in green roofing, water conservation, and waste management.

Also on the list was Naples, Italy, whose trash crisis has made headlines since 2008. Once city residents started realizing that the government wasn’t going to take action, they started taking matters into their own hands. Through grassroots activist movements, like guerrilla gardening and flash mobs, Neapolitans are slowly beautifying their city, and this year will host the UN’s World Urban Forum.

The other cities on Kaye’s watch list were Adelaide, Australia; Belgrade, Serbia; Brasilia, Brazil; Doha, Qatar; San Jose, California; and Seoul, Korea.

[Flickr image of Mexico City via Alfredo Gayou]

Uganda hotels to charge less for locals

Uganda’s hotels are facing tough times. Despite their country having top attractions such as Nile rafting trips, the Great Rift Valley, and safaris in the many national parks filled with wildlife, the average hotel is running at only 50 percent capacity. Adding to this problem is that wealthy Ugandans don’t go for internal tourism, preferring to jet off to more exotic destinations like Europe. Well, exotic to the Ugandans anyway.

Hoteliers in Uganda have decided to change that by offering a 40 percent discount to Ugandan citizens at certain times of the year. So if you decide to head on over to East Africa to see Lake Victoria, elephants, mountain gorillas, and all the other sights Uganda has to offer, you’ll have a chance to meet more locals than ever. Travelers to Africa tell me the capital Kampala is a lush town full of energy and interest, and it even made it into the list of 15 green cities. Uganda has a lot to offer, and they deserve a healthy tourism industry after they thumbed their collective noses at the terrorists.

[Photo courtesy K. Stefanova via Wikimedia Commons]

America’s greenest cities

If you live in Detroit, Philadelphia or New York City, you probably weren’t so happy with Forbes saying that you lived in some of America’s most miserable places. But instead of focusing on how bad places are, let’s take a look at the more positive list done by Popular Science which recently listed America’s 50 Greenest Cities.

The rankings were determined by using data supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Geographic Society’s Green Guide, which surveyed over 100,000 people in 30 different categories. The data was then compiled into four different categories: electricity, green living, transportation, and recycling and green perspective.

The top five:

1. Portland, Oregon
2. San Francisco, California
3. Boston, Massachusetts
4. Oakland, California
5. Eugene, Oregon

Makes me happy currently be a resident of the West Coast. But don’t worry New Yorkers, the Big Apple made it to the number one spot for transportation and number 20 overall; maybe not so miserable after all.

America's Cleanest & Greenest Cities

The Ames-Boone area
of Iowa normally doesn’t get mentioned around here too much, but it’s time to turn things around or our travel
destinations at least. runs an
interesting health piece which highlights America’s greenest and
cleanest cities
. The listing is based on ozone pollution and particles from data collected by the American Lung
Association’s 2005 set of statistics and according to other research studies pollution is costing a pretty penny. For
businesses it pays to be clean and  for the curious vagabond just looking to roam aimlessly – where better to
spend your time than in clean destinations like those found on their list?

Newton, Iowa or Sioux Falls, South Dakota may not
come off as exciting as NYC, LA or Miami, but who needs the smog and increased exhaust fumes leaking from almost every
vehicle in big city traffic jams? Not me and certainly not you, so if seeing is believing and better for our health
plan ahead before being clean suddenly becomes trendy. The top 10 cleanest and greenest areas in America are as

  1. Ames-Boone, Iowa
  2. Bellingham,
  3. Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, TX
  4. Cedar
    Rapids, Iowa
  5. Colorado Springs, CO
  6. Deltona-Daytona
    Beach-Palm Coast, FL
  7. Des Moines-Newton-Pella, Iowa
  8. Duluth,
    Minn., Wisconsin
  9. Eugene-Springfield, OR
  10. Fargo-Wahpeton,
    North Dakota., Minn

For a complete list with all
visit Forbes and be sure to check out the slide show. It’s so clean you won’t believe your own eyes.