The 15 Most Sustainable Cities in 2022

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.

Driving an electric car, drinking from compostable cups, growing food in our own gardens — making sustainable choices will help save our planet.

Some cities, though, are better at promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle, while others belch smoke and throw away recyclables. Which cities are the leaders and laggers of our Earth-friendly future?

LawnStarter ranked the most sustainable cities by comparing the 200 largest U.S. cities across 24 key sustainability indicators.

Among the metrics we looked at are the:

  • Number of incentives and policies supporting renewables and energy efficiency
  • Number of zero-energy buildings
  • Share of green commuters
  • Prevalence of community-supported agriculture.

Following are our rankings of the most sustainable cities in the U.S.

1. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco
Maridav /

Overall score: 69.81

Policy rank: 5

Infrastructure rank: 15

Pollution rank: 64

Transportation rank: 1

Food production rank: 13

2. Rochester, NY

Rochester New York
TarnPisessith /

Overall score: 66.02

Policy rank: 2

Infrastructure rank: 6

Pollution rank: 35

Transportation rank: 39

Food production rank: 20

3. New York, NY

New York City coastline
IM_photo /

Overall score: 62.57

Policy rank: 1

Infrastructure rank: 161

Pollution rank: 105

Transportation rank: 2

Food production rank: 3

4. Boston, MA

Boston skyline summer day.
Danica Chang /

Overall score: 61.54

Policy rank: 14

Infrastructure rank: 47

Pollution rank: 73

Transportation rank: 3

Food production rank: 83

5. Oakland, CA

Oakland, California
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Overall score: 61.52

Policy rank: 7

Infrastructure rank: 67

Pollution rank: 60

Transportation rank: 13

Food production rank: 44

6. Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, Utah
Joe Guetzloff /

Overall score: 60.65

Policy rank: 26

Infrastructure rank: 3

Pollution rank: 170

Transportation rank: 11

Food production rank: 14

7. Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, California
Andrew Zarivny /

Overall score: 59.50

Policy rank: 11

Infrastructure rank: 2

Pollution rank: 154

Transportation rank: 42

Food production rank: 66

8. Syracuse, NY

Syracuse New York
Paul Brady Photography /

Overall score: 58.71

Policy rank: 2

Infrastructure rank: 41

Pollution rank: 61

Transportation rank: 34

Food production rank: 107

9. Des Moines, IA

Des Moines, Iowa
f11photo /

Overall score: 56.92

Policy rank: 16

Infrastructure rank: 20

Pollution rank: 1

Transportation rank: 100

Food production rank: 134

10. St. Louis, MO

St. Louis
CrackerClips Stock Media /

Overall score: 56.61

Policy rank: 27

Infrastructure rank: 111

Pollution rank: 55

Transportation rank: 26

Food production rank: 2

11. St. Paul, MN

Park in St. Paul, Minnesota
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Overall score: 55.99

Policy rank: 13

Infrastructure rank: 64

Pollution rank: 36

Transportation rank: 40

Food production rank: 136

12. Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles
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Overall score: 55.98

Policy rank: 7

Infrastructure rank: 10

Pollution rank: 158

Transportation rank: 27

Food production rank: 92

13. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore, Maryland
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Overall score: 55.94

Policy rank: 10

Infrastructure rank: 138

Pollution rank: 29

Transportation rank: 32

Food production rank: 102

14. San Diego, CA

The skyline of San Diego, where median rent is well below median mortgage payments
Dancestrokes /

Overall score: 55.57

Policy rank: 35

Infrastructure rank: 1

Pollution rank: 115

Transportation rank: 60

Food production rank: 62

15. San Jose, CA

The skyline of San Jose, which has a lower median rent than median mortgage payment
stellamc /

Overall score: 54.54

Policy rank: 5

Infrastructure rank: 19

Pollution rank: 119

Transportation rank: 61

Food production rank: 88


Man using too much data on his phone, tablet and laptop
Bacho /

We ranked the 200 largest U.S. cities from most to least sustainable based on their overall scores, averaged across all the weighted metrics listed below.

The city that earned the highest overall score — out of a possible 100 points — was ranked No. 1, or “most sustainable.”

  • Number of Incentives and Policies Supporting Renewables and Energy Efficiency
  • Presence of Local Clean City Coalitions
  • Waste Mangement Performance
  • Number of Zero-Energy Buildings
  • Share of Roads in Poor Condition
  • Alternative-Fuel Stations per 100,000 Residents
  • Electric Vehicle-Friendliness
  • Greenhouse-Gas Emissions (Metric Tons)
  • Tons of Waste in Landfills per 100,000 Residents
  • Annual Excess Fuel Consumption
  • Median Air Quality Index
  • Water Quality Violations Present
  • Share of Workers Who Walk, Bike, Carpool, or Ride Public Transit to Work
  • Average Commute Time
  • Transit Score
  • Walk Score
  • Bike Score
  • Bike-Rental Facilities per 100,000 Residents
  • Number of Scooter Rental Companies
  • Urban Gardening-Friendliness
  • Farm-to-Consumer Food Sales
  • Local Food Hubs Within 100 Miles
  • On-Farm Markets Within 50 Miles

Sources: American Community Gardening Association, Bird, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, DSIRE, Lime, New Buildings Institute, Other LawnStarter Studies, Spin, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, TRIP, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Veo, Walk Score, and Yelp.

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