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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog

The Best and Worst States for Green Living

August 17th, 2017

Recent research by LEED Consulting firm, Above Green, reveals that Oregon is one of the top states for green living. The state scores exceptionally well in each category relating to energy use, waste management, green buildings, and sustainable building practices. Ranking #3 on the list, Oregon has respectfully held a great reputation for creating awareness and activism relating to the environment. The cities goal of becoming a “20 minute city” is to reduce commuter’s carbon footprint, being able to travel to work in 20 minutes or less. Being exceptionally passionate about green building and sustainability the team was curious about which states in the U.S. can be the best and worst for green living.

This map showcases their findings:

The map is based on six key data points: carbon emissions, water usage, renewable energy usage, number of electric vehicles, number of green buildings, number of green building professionals, and air quality. The factors were weighted by importance – for example, air quality counted more than number of electric vehicles.

The top five best states for green living are:

  1. Alaska
  2. Montana
  3. Oregon
  4. Washington
  5. Hawaii

The top five worst states for green living are:

  1. Delaware
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Ohio
  4. Mississippi
  5. New Jersey

Here are some interesting findings for the six areas that were reviewed:

  • There are 464 electric vehicle-charging stations in Oregon, with a total of 1,100 charging outlets, and, one of the most abundant networks of Electric Vehicle charging stations allowing people to travel relatively carbon free.
  • The 16 known hot springs that Oregon has to offer helps contribute to the abundance of geothermal energy, ranking third in the nation for potential energy after Nevada and California.
  • Kate Brown signed an anti-coal state senate bill, 1547 that phases out coal generation imports by 2035, this will help support consumer demanded utilities to be powered by 50% in-state renewable energy.
  • Among Oregon’s greenest cities are Corvallis, Bend, Portland, Eugene, Ashland, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Mosier, and Salem who all have shown great indications of eco-friendly practices.
  • In 2016, Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) adopted a new sustainability policy, which provides guidelines for sustainable planning and outlining roles for sustainability coordinators, committees, and planning. Also, implementing 2.3 MW of new net-metered renewable energy generation.
  • Portland, Oregon has implemented 398 Eco roofs since 2008, with more underway through the industry group compiling 300 members called GRiT (Greenroof info Think-tank).
  • Building efficiency incentives have long been in place for Oregon involving new construction; equipment renovation, remodels, and pursuing LEED certifications based on total energy savings can help cut cost up to 50%.
  • The town of Mosier uses 70% less energy than the national standard, setting a great example for the rest of Oregon and the other states.
  • Eugene, Oregon was the 3rd city to take initiative and create a Plastic Bag Ban to cut out heavy use of single-use plastics.

From findings based on these six key data points, Above Green found that generally the northern and western states were better for green living. There were additional factors that could be considered for a more complete evaluation, but this gives an idea of how green each state is.

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