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Defining the Sustainable City

Last week’s Sustainability Summit in Cleveland produced 1,000s of ideas for building a sustainable Cleveland, “a green city on a blue lake.” That brings up the question, “What is a sustainable city?”

Based on what we discussed last week and my own experiences, here is my top 10 list of important traits:

1. Increasing generation and use of renewable energy, striving toward 25 percent
2. Primary and secondary education that produces smart kids and good citizens
3. Access to, and enjoyment of, natural resources including green space and waterfront
4. Solid corporate citizens operating and expanding their businesses
5. Entrepreneurs who create “green” jobs and sustainable products and services
6. Modern public transit system and efficient, well-designed highway system
7. A strong urban core, safe urban neighborhoods and suburbs that feel connected to the urban core
8. Strong, active coalition of green building advocates
9. Personal, professional and organizational ways to get involved in the movement
10. Metrics for tracking progress – “What gets measured, gets done”

What does your list look like? What cities are doing the best job? What other cities might emerge as leaders?

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