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What Really Makes a City Sustainable?

When discussing the future of cities, the improvement of our existing ones and the creation and implementation of “sustainable” cities, the trend is to discuss the implementation of green initiatives to make cities more energy efficient and reduce their footprint but the whole picture of a real sustainable development is often missed. Don’t get me wrong, green initiatives are really important, but to have an effective and functional city, these must follow what is known as the triple line rule; they need to reach a point where the environmental meets the personal and economical sweet spot.

The Arcadis blog just released a post where they analyzed their 100 most sustainable cities index and explained what made their best cities stand out from others, what traits made cities the most sustainable and optimal for a better future to their citizens and the environment. To create the list, they analyzed the personal, environmental and economical to find the cities that would balance these tree aspects the best.


Arcadis analyzed cities by 32 different metrics. The cities that did the best where the ones that redeveloped lost spaces that where inefficient or abandoned which increased the value of local real estate and increased the offer of jobs, boosting the local economy as well. Also, the cities had efficient mass transportation systems, economical diversity to reduce gentrification and had a well structures response to climate change. Here’s another picture from the original post that displays the most sustainable cities as well as their strengths and weaknesses, again having the three line rule in mind:


It can be seen how New York follows Vancouver in sustainability but Vancouver leads in the environmental aspect where NYC leads in the economical one. Los Angeles has a great personal ranking, this might be because people have a good life-work balance but fails to deliver an efficient mass transport system and it may lack economical diversity, which makes it drop to number 10. Vancouver again is the city where according to Arcadis; these three aspects balance each other in the best way possible, because a city’s sustainability can’t only be measured in how green it is but also how its citizens live and how feasible it actually is.

Read Arcadis Post Here.

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