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Published on October 23rd, 2012 | by Silvio Marcacci


Western American Cities Dominate US Clean Technology Index

October 23rd, 2012 by  

Urban regions have become the focus of American life and economics – the 2011 Census found 54 percent of the nation’s population lived within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA).

According to a new report, our urban regions are also the engines of America’s clean tech economy.

Leading US clean tech metro areas

The inaugural U.S. Metro Clean Tech Index from analyst firm Clean Edge finds America’s 50 largest MSAs dominating the national clean tech economy. Nearly 90 percent of all clean tech venture capital funds ($13 billion of $14.9 billion total) went to companies headquartered in these areas, also home to 72 percent of all LEED-certified building square footage.

In addition, America’s top 50 MSAs are where more than 95 percent of all U.S.-registered hybrid electric vehicles are parked and the location of more than 70 percent of all U.S. clean energy patents. These findings mirror many of the state-level findings from Clean Edge’s 2012 State Clean Energy Index.

West is Best

Against this backdrop of clean tech concentration, Clean Edge has ranked each metro area by a series of four indicator categories comprised of multiple individual indicators, and assigned a score on a 100-point scale – and it turns out the West is best.

The top six of ranked American clean tech metro regions are on the West Coast, with two more regions in the top ten located west of the Mississippi. San Jose ranked first overall and California cities took four of the top ten spots, somewhat unsurprising given the state’s aggressive commitment to renewables and emissions reductions.

Some of the top metro area highlights include:

  1. San Jose, CA: home to Silicon Valley, San Jose took the top spot on its strength as an innovation hub with the highest concentration of clean tech venture capital funding and strong showings in patent activity, university technology development, and hybrid/electric vehicle development.
  2. San Francisco, CA: the Bay Area ranked second but was the leader across the board with top 10 finishes in almost every Metro Index indicator, including an extremely high concentration of LEED-certified buildings, the cleanest electricity mix, and highly efficient transportation.
  3. Portland, OR: while scoring nearly 20 points lower than the top two, Portland placed third on the strength of several specific ranks – home to the highest concentration of LEED-certified projects in the U.S., more EV charging stations per capita than any other area, and the nation’s top utility green power purchasing program.
  4. Sacramento, CA: the only other metro area with top 10 finishes in all Metro Index indicators, California’s state capital ranks first in the U.S. in clean economy job concentration, is an early hub for EV adoption, and has a significant amount of Energy Star-certified buildings.
  5. Seattle, WA: green in many ways beyond its lush landscape, Seattle’s clean tech influence extends across western Washington State – it is trailing only Portland in EV charging stations, it emits fewer greenhouse gases than almost anywhere else, and it is a leading location for LEED-certified buildings.

Clean Tech Highlights Across America

Even though the West Coast leads the pack when it comes to clean tech environments, hope springs eternal for the rest of America. Boston and Salt Lake City have the most licensable clean tech coming out of their universities, while Las Vegas has the most total LEED-certified square footage, and Raleigh has the lowest carbon emissions from large facilities.

Image courtesy of Clean Edge 


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About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.

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