Data Reveals Greenest City in the U.S. for Workers and Small Businesses is San Francisco

Several US Cities made our list of top greenest places for workers and small businesses, but the top spot was taken by San Francisco.

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  • California, Texas and Washington lead the country in the number of registered EV's
  • The top 3 least green cities are Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Houston
  • San Francisco topped our list with a score of 85

With millions of Americans planning to leave their current jobs over the last few months, it’s likely that relocation is also in the cards for many. In light of this, we wanted to research the greenest cities in the country.  For any professionals looking to relocate this year, and small businesses thinking of new office locations for their workers, choosing a city committed to green practices and sustainability can be hard to find.

Luckily, one of the most tech-friendly cities in America is also it’s most green. If your business is environmentally conscious, and you want to be sure to accelerate your goals of committing to becoming a sustainable business, San Francisco should be at the top of your list.

San Francisco leads the list of the most sustainable cities in America, which may not be surprising considering the city leads the way with many green initiatives. San Francisco airport was the first in the country to ban the sales of single-uses water bottles, and in 2007 it was the first city to ban single-use plastic checkout bags. Other policies include banning single-use items like plastic straws and forbidding the sales of plastic water bottles at events hosted by the city. *

The research we conducted looked into seven factors; green spaces, walkability, bikeability and transport options, number of registered EVs, recycling rates and pollution levels and spanned 25 of the USA’s most populated cities.

Based on this data, each city was given a ‘green city score’ out of 125, with the highest scoring city being San Francisco at 85 points, and Oklahoma scoring the lowest with 22 points. Boston and San Jose finished off the top three, scoring 78 and 69 points. Six of the top ten cities are on the east coast, with the other four on the west coast.

The Top 10 Greenest Cities and Their Scores

  • San Francisco – 85
  • Boston – 78
  • San Jose – 69
  • New York City – 68
  • Seattle – 62
  • San Diego – 59
  • Los Angeles – 55
  • Denver – 55
  • Jacksonville – 54
  • Philadelphia – 51

The 10 Least Green Cities and Their Scores

  • Oklahoma City – 22
  • Fort Worth – 27
  • Houston – 27
  • Austin – 29
  • Nashville – 32
  • Charlotte – 33
  • Indianapolis – 35
  • San Antonio – 38
  • Dallas – 39
  • El Paso – 39


US Least Greenest Cities

There are some key differences between the cities at the top and bottom of the list, for example, 21% of San Francisco’s land is a green park, compared to just 1% in Oklahoma city.

New York City ranked the highest when considering a city’s walkability, bike or public transport accessibility in a city, scoring 240 out of 300 for that individual metric. Nashville is at the other end of the ranking scoring three times less, at 70. Boston is the city that scores highest for recycling rates with a rate of 55%; however, again Nashville falls short with a recycling rate of just 7%.

California, Texas and Washington lead the country in the number of registered EVs, reflecting those city’s commitments to green energy via rebates and other incentives.

Not surprisingly, 2 Hawaii cities made the list for Top 25 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Year-round Particle Pollution, with the 3rd as Cheyenne, Washington.

Best vs Worst Green cities

Nadene Evans, Growth Manager at Zenefits said, “With more and more people searching for a new job this year, relocating to a new city may be on the cards for them in 2022. So we thought it would be good insight to research the greenest cities in the country for any professionals looking to relocate this year. Sustainability is a major factor for modern living, with employees using it as a key decision making tool, and as a People Operations company we’re in a prime position to shed light on this trend.”

Sustainability is a major factor for modern living, with employees using it as a key decision making tool.

“It may not be a surprise that San Francisco made it to the top, as the city often leads the way with sustainable initiatives. We hope this research is useful for anyone who is considering moving a business to a different city,  or plans to work from a different city in 2022 and wants to be in a metro that’s good for the planet and their career.”



For this study, we looked at the 25 most populated cities* in the U.S.

To rank each city, seven metrics were taken into consideration:

  1. Number of green spaces
  2. Walkability
  3. Bikeability
  4. Number of transport options
  5. Number of registered EVs
  6. Recycling rates
  7. Pollution levels

Each city was given a score of 1 to 25 based on where they ranked in the list, with 25 being the best and 1 being the worst. Some cities were given the same score if they ranked the same as each other. Where data wasn’t available, cities were given a score of zero for that ranking.

The sources for each of the rankings can be found below.


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