Boston is a fairly small city. Including the nearby cities of Cambridge and Somerville, there are about 800,000 total residents. Though there are less than a million people, Bostonians are leading the nation in climate change action and green living. The popular sustainability website, Mother Nature Network (MNN), ranked Boston as the 3rd greenest city in the country and describes the city as “the urban green elite.” So what makes Boston greener than the rest? This is due in large part to the hard work of neighborhood action groups and targeted campaigns. Some neighborhoods have specific programs, organizations and initiatives that really make our city one of the greenest places to live in the country.
Roslindale’s green living initiative is called Greening Rozzie. The mission is to inspire “community action for a healthy planet.” It is the overarching organization for residential solar initiatives and is a great place for people to find information about energy efficiency, toxic chemicals and neighborhood tree planting.
South Boston Over in Southie, they have an active group called Planet Southie that is dedicated to making the area both a greener and safer community. Planet Southie largely focuses on transportation issues tackled by its Walk Action Team and its Transit Action Team. The group has monthly meetings that are open to the public, during which it covers these transportation issues as well as plan neighborhood information sessions on energy efficiency and climate change prevention.
The Jamaica Plain neighborhood is home to a similar group – Cool JP. Except, this organization is solely focused on getting citizens involved in climate change action. Cool JP is a subgroup of a larger city-wide initiative known as the Boston Climate Action Network (Boston CAN). The mission of Cool JP is to get 25 percent of the neighborhood to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent within three years. Like Planet Southie, Cool JP also has monthly open meetings where passionate residents discuss progress and next steps towards achieving the mission. So how does Cool JP tackle climate change in the area? It encourages homeowners and businesses to sign up for a free home energy audit through Next Step Living. Next Step Living and Mass Save provide Bostonians with the tools they need to take the appropriate next steps in making their homes more efficient. Cool JP also encourages engagement in energy-reduction competitions, and also works to create financial incentives for residents to become more energy efficient.
Across the River: Cambridge & Somerville It is hard to have a conversation about Boston’s greenest neighborhoods without mentioning the great work done by the bordering communities of Cambridge and Somerville. While neither are technically part of the city of Boston, they both contribute to Boston’s reputation as a green city. Some of the most important innovation in green technology is taking place in Kendall Square and at Greentown Labs at the Armory in Somerville. In addition, these cities are home to some of the greenest universities – Harvard, MIT and Tufts.
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Cameron Bruns is the founder of BostonGreenBlog.com and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.