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Picking a Travel Spot? Go for the Green

People Silhouette, Park, San Francisco, Picking a Travel Spot? Go for the Green

ANDREAS BOHLENDER/GETTY IMAGES

With a population of more than 850,000, San Francisco tops the list of eco-friendly cities in the U.S.

Kermit is right: It’s not easy being green. But in today’s competitive tourism landscape, if you want to lure eco-conscious travelers to your city, it’s essential. That’s why hot spots around the U.S. are taking major steps to be to become more eco-friendly.

In a survey released Tuesday, RewardExpert, a company that helps travelers maximize their mileage and points for travel, looked at 53 top destinations to see which one takes the prize as the greenest big city in the U.S. To make the determination, no plane trips were required. Data was gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau, Alliance for Biking & Walking, Trust for Public Land and other sources, and was sliced and diced on 20 metrics across five key categories: ecotourism, transportation, lifestyle, policy and environment.

Surprisingly, some of the country’s most bustling urban areas — with large populations and plenty of skyscrapers and concrete — trend green.

San Francisco grabs the No. 1 spot, ranking first for ecotourism and transportation and second for lifestyle and policy. The city is tops for walkability, the number of farmers markets, and the most green hotels as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Coming in at second is Boston, bolstered by the fact that a whopping 14.8 percent of its residents opt to walk to work. Beantown can also be proud that it is the most energy-efficient city in the country.

Washington, D.C., ranks third overall as the top location for green jobs and for boasting the best bike-share program.

This penchant for eco-friendly travel, paired with an increased interest in choosing accommodations that utilize sustainable practices, is transforming the hospitality industry, too, notes Rhiannon Jacobsen of the U.S. Green Building Council. “According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travelers reported plans to make more environmentally minded choices over the next year,” Jacobsen says. “Green hotels are catching on. Hotels across the world are incorporating LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] and other green building practices into their spaces, changing the way hotels are designed, built and operated.”

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