Seattle is the most sustainable big city in the nation, according to a list compiled by Smarter Cities, an NRDC project that looks at the progress American cities are making toward going green. Not surprisingly, San Francisco and Portland are the runners-up.

Using data from the EPA and the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as some voluntary survey responses from city governments, the project identified the top 15 large, medium, and small cities according to 10 different environmental criteria, from air quality to recycling to transportation.

Here’s a look the top 15 large cities (population of 250,000 or more):

seattle skylineIt’s hard not to be environmentally minded in a city with views like this.Photo: Simonds1. Seattle
The Emerald City gets props for its brand-new light rail system, reliance on hydroelectricity (and the resulting good air quality), Mayor Greg NickelsU.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Agreement, and two global warming initiatives: Seattle Climate Action Now and Seattle Climate Partnership. Seattleites are described as “highly educated and environmentally minded.” Think it’s just a coincidence that Grist is headquartered here?