Is Your City a Smarter City?
In part thanks to an abundance of wind power opportunities, Denton, Texas, made the list of small smarter cities for energy, with the distinction of being the city with the most wind power per capita in the country. Photo via Horatio3k.

In part thanks to the area's abundance of wind power, Denton, Tex., made the list of small smarter cities for energy, with the distinction of being the city with the most wind power per capita in the United States. Photo via Horatio3k.

The Natural Resources Defense Council‘s online resource center,,  has named 22 cities “2010 Smarter Cities” for their investment in low-carbon energy and efforts to become more energy efficient and conservation-minded urban spaces.

“Energy” is the first of about a dozen “sustainability factors”  that the Smarter Cities program will analyze to give credit to leaders in urban sustainability. The project’s research director, Paul McRandle, said his team chose to evaluate energy first, “given the links between our energy production and consumption patterns and harm to health and the environment.”

To determine which cities deserved the title of Smarter City for energy, researchers worked with local officials and experts within and outside of NRDC. For each city, they analyzed “aggregate kilowatt hour consumption, top three fuel sources, whether it had completed a greenhouse gas inventory, energy conservation programs (including targets for reduced consumption) and processes to measure energy conservation.”

Cities were split up by population, with four small cities (with a population less than 100,000), six medium-sized cities (100,000 – 249,999 people), and 12 large cities (more than 250,000 people) on the list.  If you’re interested in learning more about the researchers’ methodology, you can read about it on their website, where you can also perform a city search to find out about what’s going on in your city – even if it didn’t make the top 22 list.


Transportation was not included in the evaluation of cities’ green energy profiles. Researchers said that transportation alone has such a large impact on urban sustainability that they preferred to leave it as a separate category to be evaluated independently of other energy-saving measures.

Here at EMBARQ (the producer of this blog), we are eager to see the results of the “Smarter Cities for transportation” evaluations.  In the meantime, Research Analyst Nathan Sandwick suggests that Smarter Cities could look at transportation for metropolitan regions, rather than just municipalities. This would allow them to consider which regions are trying to change their growth and development patterns and transportation networks for the better.  In analysis of transportation systems, focusing within city limits provides only a very limited view of the larger system’s sustainability and carbon footprint.

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