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On ‘Greenest Cities in America’ list, Atlanta doesn’t exactly impress

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The 100 largest U.S. cities were measured on 26 key “green” indicators, and the ATL finished middle-of-the-pack

A drone image over Piedmont Park, Atlanta.
An aerial view over Atlanta’s marquee green space, Piedmont Park.
Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

Despite an abundance of actual, well, greenery, Atlanta isn’t measuring up as a green leader among its counterpart American cities.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by personal finance website WalletHub, which aims to gauge “2018’s Greenest Cities in America.”

In light of October’s designation as National Energy Awareness Month—and the recent news that a major solar energy producer will be exempt from the Trump Administration’s tariffs—WalletHub compared the country’s largest 100 cities across 26 metrics of “environmental friendliness and sustainability.”

A few key indicators, per researchers: greenhouse-gas emissions per capita; green job opportunities per capita; the number of smart-energy policies and initiatives; even the prevalence of bicycling infrastructure and farmers markets in each city was factored in.

All things considered, Atlanta landed at so-so No. 36, per the analysis.

With the exception of Washington, D.C. and Honolulu, the top 10 is dominated by West Coast cities.

Above Chastain Park, Buckhead is at left, with Midtown and downtown beyond the tree canopy in the distance.
Curbed Atlanta

Atlanta scored highest in the ranking of “Lifestyle and Policy” (No. 13), which took into account community gardens, farmers markets, and green jobs.

And the advent of the Beltline and additions of miles of bike lanes in recent years appears to have helped Atlanta’s surprisingly strong No. 17 “Transportation” ranking.

Less impressive: the ATL’s “Environment” (No. 49) and, worse, “Energy Sources” (No. 66) rankings.

Atlanta’s slot in the latter category is interesting, given the city’s realistic commitment to be 100 percent powered with clean energy by 2035. Then again, a city built within a forest doesn’t always lend itself to energy production via solar and wind.

An analysis by the same group earlier this year lent Atlanta a similarly “meh” ranking (No. 21) in a top 50 countdown of the county’s “Best State Capitals to Live In.”

Anyhow, here’s a broader look:

Source: WalletHub