Sustainability Infrastructure

Here are the greenest cities in America

California has been at the forefront of state efforts to combat climate change and 11 of the top 20 cities overall were located in the state.
San Diego skyline.
A new WalletHub analysis found San Diego, California is the greenest city in the country. iStock.

Story at a glance


  • San Diego is the greenest city in the country, according to a new WalletHub analysis.

  • Cities in California consistently ranked high in green metrics measured. 

  • In contrast, Gilbert, Ariz., was ranked the least green city in the country, followed by Glendale and Mesa in the same state.

San Diego is the greenest city in the country, according to a new WalletHub analysis.

The city out-ranked 99 others based on 28 green metrics ranging from greenhouse gas emissions per capita, to the number of smart-energy policies and initiatives for green jobs at the local level.

San Diego was followed by Portland, Ore.; Honolulu; Fremont, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. California has been at the forefront of state efforts to combat climate change, and 11 of the top 20 cities overall were located in the state. 

Although the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act marked a significant step forward in the national fight against climate change, at the local level cities across the country have been working for decades to reduce their carbon footprint, cut down on waste and implement green policies. 


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When it comes to cities going green, it’s less of a question of individual city benefits and more about the entire planet, Peter Bauer, a professor in the department of electrical engineering at the University of Notre Dame told WalletHub.

“We have no choice because if we do not fight climate change on all levels, all hell will break loose. This is an existential problem to humankind where the individuals, the cities, the states and counties, and the nations need to work together.”

Three of the five lowest-ranked cities were in Arizona, with the bottom three slots occupied by Gilbert, Glendale and Mesa. Baton Rouge, La., and Hialeah, Fla., rounded out the country’s least green cities. 

Each of the 28 metrics measured fell into four different categories: environment, transportation, energy sources and lifestyle and policy. However, because each city’s type and size of recycling facilities vary, researchers were unable to include metrics that measured the availability of recycling programs or the amount of waste recycled in each city.

Responsible waste management plays a key role in climate mitigation strategies, as the waste sector alone accounts for 20 percent of the world’s methane emissions. 

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions per capita, Virginia Beach, Va.; Oakland, Calif.; Jersey City, N.J.; Reno, Nev.; Hialeah, Fla.; and San Bernardino, Calif., were all tied for the lowest totals. 

In comparison, both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., along with Denver, Baton Rouge, and Corpus Christi, Texas, were tied for the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions per capita. 

Other metrics measured included cities’ percent of green space, percentage of commuters who drive, overall bike scores and farmers markets per capita.