Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Seattle top this year's list of America's greenest big cities, according to a ranking by sustainlane.com, an online community dedicated to sustainable living.

2008 SustainLane Green City Rankings

(Click here for the full rankings
and for more information on each city.)
1) Portland
2) San Francisco
3) Seattle
4) Chicago
5) New York
6) Boston
7) Minneapolis
8) Philadelphia
9) Oakland
10) Baltimore
11) Denver
12) Milwaukee
13) Austin
14) Sacramento
15) Washington
16) Cleveland
17) Honolulu
18) Albuquerque
19) Atlanta
20) Kansas City, Mo.
21) San Jose, Calif.
22) Tucson, Ariz.
23) Jacksonville, Fla.
24) Dallas
25) Omaha, Neb.

The 2008 SustainLane ranking of the 50 largest cites, which is based on Census data, reveals that major metropolitans are taking steps toward preserving or enhancing the quality of life for their residents. SustainLane said the rankings, introduced in 2005, show how mayors and city councils are preparing for resource deficits due to soaring gas and energy prices, drought, rising food prices, and other issues.

Based on 16 economic, environmental, and technology factors, the SustainLane survey factored each city's ability to maintain healthy air, drinking water, and public parks and transit systems, in addition to sustainable economies filled with green buildings, farmers markets, renewable energy, and alternative fuels. The survey revealed:

  • Big cities are creating more infill redevelopment areas with high-density, mixed-use space and mass transit.

  • Increased public transit infrastructure investments are being made, with Phoenix; Charlotte, N.C.; Seattle; Portland; San Francisco; New York City; Detroit; Houston; Albuquerque, N.M.; Denver; Dallas; and Austin, Texas, paving the way.

  • More city governments are appointing sustainability officials, adopting climate change plans, constructing green public buildings, and using biodiesel fuel. Houston; Atlanta; and Columbus, Ohio, are among those making the grandest transformations.

  • Wind and solar energy production and energy conservation are priorities in Boston; San Francisco; Portland; Houston; Austin; and Sacramento, Calif., and are being reviewed by nearly every city in the rankings.

  • Citizens are working together to solve problems caused by rising fuel prices and climate change. The results are community gardens and anaerobic digesters in Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, and others.

  • More people are biking around town. The cities racing ahead are Portland; New York City; Oakland, Calif.; Washington; Minneapolis; and Columbus.

"The top 15 cities are creating more vibrant city centers, and offering higher quality air, water, food, and transportation choices that yield smaller carbon footprints per resident than those at the bottom of the list," said SustainLane Media CEO James Elsen in a statement. "We predict that the lower-ranking cities will increasingly struggle to sustain their resident and business populations and local economies."

A user-generated Web guide to healthy, sustainable living, sustainlane.com provides community, advice, news, product reviews, and what it claims to be the nation's largest local green living directory. It is published by SustainLane Media.