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NRDC Wants to Know: How Smart is Your City?

Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition?

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) this month launched Smarter Cities, a multimedia Web site and interactive mapping tool that shows how U.S. cities stack up against each other across several indicators of “environmental stewardship and sustainable growth,” which are visually displayed on a CityGrid.

As a new media resource, smartercities.org [looks like they haven’t quite switched domains, yet] is a destination site for all who have a stake in their city’s future—from students to policy makers and city planners, from business leaders to community groups and urban dwellers—to learn about best practices and initiatives, share ideas and innovative solutions, and post news, events and opportunities.


For now, Seattle comes out on top across all categories (i.e. air quality, energy production and conservation, green buildings, etc.) But when you drill down to specific categories, the rankings start to shift. San Jose has the highest standard of living. Portland has the most green space. And San Francisco has the best transportation. You can also view rankings for “medium” and “small” cities, if huge metropolises aren’t your thing.

The site allows people to sign up as a “Citizen Reporter” on sustainable urban issues for the OnEarth.org network of blogs. Kaid Benfield, director for NRDC’s Smart Growth Program, is a main contributor.

There are also photo galleries, “city IQ” quizzes that test you on things like urban sprawl and renewable energy, and directories of where to find “smart” resources, like local food products and solar panel installers.

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