In a study done by Mercer Human Resources Consulting in April 2007, the top 10 cleanest cities in the world are—not surprisingly—mostly located in the North Western Hemisphere. The only Asian cities represented in the top 10 are in Japan. There are no top-25 clean cities in South or Central America, Africa and Australia. The U.S. has five of the top 25; Canada has a whopping five on the list with four in the top 10, including the coveted top spot with Calgary in the lead; Europe has 11 of the top 25; and Japan has three.
The top 10 ranking is a bit of a misnomer. Since the consulting group used a exactingly specific mathematical system to rank the cities according to their green attributes, the result was a number of ties leading to three cities in the sixth spot and eight in the tenth. The list, therefore, actually details the top 17 cleanest cities in the world.
According to Forbes.com, a city has to focus on a lot of different things to make the grade. First and foremost, proper sanitation and an emphasis on public health are key. Clean sources of energy for home and commercial heating, a reliable and relatively green sources of transportation and environmentally regulated businesses are all factors in a city being recognized as clean. As well, recycling programs, waste regulation, air quality, water quality, land quality and green space all affect a city’s rating.
The four Canadian cities that made the top 10 have their own positive attributes as well as those described above.
Calgary succeeded in all of the named fields and more in its bid to be number one. Though it is the centre for oil and gas in Canada, its well-planned, grid-like structure, Light Rail Transportation system and compact design placed in squarely in the top spot. Calgary’s transfer stations sort through residential and commercial garbage taking out biodegradable and recyclable material that people may have missed.
Ottawa, at number four, was recognized for its comprehensive transportation system as well as its highly efficiently heated office buildings. The presence of the Rideau Canal, which serves as another way for citizens to commute (on skates) in the winter, also bumped Ottawa up in the ratings.
Montreal, made the list at number 10 largely due to its extensive public transportation systems, which include subways, buses, and commuter lines and allow citizens to travel in an environmentally friendly way.
Vancouver, the only Canadian city on the list without a major freeway running within its city limits, is well known for its green ethos. Many buildings house rooftop gardens, and though the rain is a slight deterrent for those visiting, residents freely make their way around the city using buses, trams, ferries, and the Sky Train.
And though Toronto did not make the top 10, it clean attributes landed it squarely at spot 21.