Environment

Louisville has moved up in a sustainability ranking of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, though it still lags other cities in several metrics.

The rankings from Clean Edge — a company that creates indexes and reports pertaining to clean energy — list Louisville overall as 37th out of the country’s 50 largest metro areas on clean technology policies and outcomes. That’s eight positions higher than Clean Edge ranked Louisville last year.

Louisville Metro Sustainability Director Maria Koetter said the city’s progress compared to others is vindication of the work Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration has been doing over the past several years.

Fischer signed the Compact of Mayors last year, which commits the city to reducing greenhouse gases to address climate change. There have also been efforts around increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations in Louisville, and growing the number of Energy Star-certified buildings.

The latter helped bolster Louisville’s score, landing it ninth in the nation for the number of Energy Star projects per million people.

“We could get our score into the 22, 23 category, that would jump us up four or five spots,” Koetter said. “But then of course you have to take into account that other cities are doing the same thing. But I’d like to think that all of the work we’ve done so far is starting to sort of accelerate and pick up momentum and gain steam. I think that jumping up five or six rankings next year is something we’d like to aim for.”

Clean Edge also ranked states in the same report. Kentucky ranked 38th out of all 50 states. The commonwealth got points for having several energy policies in place — like a Climate Action Plan, renewable energy grants and a requirement that state vehicles are high efficiency.

But it lost points for not having many clean-tech companies, clean energy jobs and energy research facilities.

And then there’s the issue of carbon dioxide emissions. Kentucky has high per capita carbon dioxide emissions from the electric utility sector; that’s because the state gets about 83 percent of its electricity from coal. That hurts Louisville’s rankings too, landing the city 47th out of the 50 largest metro areas.

As part of joining the U.S. Compact of Mayors, Louisville committed to completing a greenhouse gas index and cutting emissions. Koetter said that index is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's News Director.