City Profiles / Large Cities / Seattle, WA

City Stats

  • Population:
  • 563,374
  • Top 15 Ranking:
  • 1

Top 10 by Criteria

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  • Grazing Goat, Seattle, Washington
  • Sound Transit Link Light Rail, Seattle, Washington
  • Ravenna Park, Seattle, Washington
  • Street Car, Seattle, Washington
  • Seattle Cloud Cover, Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Seattle hit first place this year in the large cities category, joined by its West Coast Ecotopian neighbors San Francisco and Portland. Although the city has a long history of environmental action, global warming has spurred Seattle to be more aggressive in its programs. In 2005, Mayor Greg Nickels launched the US Conference of Mayors Climate Agreement to encourage US cities to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. Since its inception, over 900 American cities have signed on.

Seeking to work with Seattle's highly educated and environmentally minded population, the city has created two global warming initiatives: Seattle Climate Action Now and Seattle Climate Partnership. In 2007, Climate Action Now distributed 10,000 home energy efficiency kits to residents and launched a "Give Your Car the Summer Off" program with incentives for Seattleites to carpool, reduce trips and even sell their cars. The Seattle Climate Partnership has brought together over a 100 local businesses to pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In one notable success, the University of Washington Medical Center devised a water reuse system for its laundry saving 12 million gallons annually and greatly reducing natural gas consumption with its accompanying greenhouse gases.

Not only does the city rely on hydroelectric plants for 90 percent of its power (which has helped keep Seattle's air quality high), but the utility has even used goats rather than chemicals pesticides to clear brush and blackberries around substations. Since large-scale hydroelectric facilities in the Northwest have been implicated in declining salmon runs, Seattle City Light also invests in low-impact hydropower such as its Skagit plant as well as wind power.

Congestion remains a problem for Seattle, but the city is finishing a light rail system to link its downtown core to SeaTac airport, scheduled for completion by the end of 2009. In November 2008, Seattle voters approved an expansion of the light rail line to its eastern suburbs. This adds to a 2006 ballot initiative, which secured $365 million for transportation improvements over the following nine years. And if you're waiting for a bus, One Bus Away provides a website, phone number, texting service and iPhone page to find out when the next one will arrive at your stop.

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