Living Sustainably: What Is The Greenest City In The UK?

Written by Myles Hemingway

Myles is our self-confessed ‘word nerd’ and property geek. You’ll find him mythbusting everything from mortgages to maisonettes, as well as giving you our spin on the latest property news and industry trends.

Everything you need to know about the greenest places to live in the UK for 2020!

As our lifestyles change and we become more eco-conscious, so must our homes. Let’s face it, it was only a matter of time before they caught up.

Today, it’s not uncommon for us as buyers to be meticulous during our property search - not that we haven’t always been. For those of us with electric cars, home charging points are now a 'must have' gadget, while for others the absence of solar panels can be an absolute dealbreaker. And it's not like our green habits stop there.

Inside, efficient appliances are a must too, as well as all the usual tick-box items like a decent layout, big windows and interior design. So, what with us as homebuyers being more eco-conscious than ever before, it’s only natural that our cities are becoming more efficient and sustainable.

Question is though, which city is leading the way? And how can living in a green highly city benefit you? Discover the UK’s top 15 below, or use the menu to skip straight to number one.

What does sustainable mean? And, what is a green city?

In short, sustainable means that something can be maintained at a certain level or rate without any knock on effects.

It’s worth remembering that it's very hard to be one hundred per cent sustainable, and far easier to increase the degree to which something is sustainable. For instance, a way to generate power from the air could be classed as fully sustainable if (and that’s a big if) it didn’t affect the atmosphere in any way. However, if it were to hinder our ability to survive or even have minor affects on the atmosphere, it'd only be sustainable to some degree.

Sustainability is the ultimate goal of a green city. Green cities are areas that are heavily urbanised and take a eco-friendly approach to living. This could be encouraging people to cycle to work or to simply reuse their plastic bags.

Want to persue a more sustainable lifestyle? Sell your house to us and make a move within just 7 days!

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What are the benefits of living in a green city?

As you'd expect, green cities come with a whole host of benefits. Here’s three…

Air quality

For a green city, air quality is high on the agenda. Air quality is a major issue for cities worldwide, and a matter that's likely to get worse as populations rise and demand on transport services increase.

Great ways to reduce this include…

    Cycling – Not only is cycling great exercise, but it's also a effective way to combat co2. At present in the UK, the government's ‘Fix your bike scheme’ has been put in place to encourage those with a broken or damaged bike to get it repaired and take up cycling. With £50 to cover your repairs there really is no excuse.

    Car sharing – If you and a work colleague commute at the same time, sharing your car is an easy way to cut both your fuel costs and co2 in half.

    Electric cars – While electric cars don't reduce levels of congestion like bikes, they do reduce the volume of carbon emissions in the air. London encourages this by making electric cars or those which emit less than 75g/km of Co2 exempt from congestion charge. However, come October 2021, this is due to change - only battery powered electric cars will be exempt.

    For the lowdown on everything congestion charge, click here.

Clean & Tidy

Litter is a plague of most cities, but less so if they're a green city. Green cities use a variety of what’s called soft measures to minimalise waste. This can be anything from packaging free supermarkets and installing more bins in public places, to charging for plastic bags or using posters to shame potential litterers into using a bin. Naughty naughty!

Preserve utilities

Energy efficiency is a focus for any green city, as it has a significant impact on its carbon footprint. Reducing utility consumption allows a city to move closer towards its sustainability goals and operate at optimum efficiency.

Study this on a house by house basis and you’ll soon see how small changes can add up, especially in larger cities. Below you'll see the consumption figures for some of the most common household appliances...

Appliance
Average Consumption (Watts)
Average Cost Per Hour
Kettle 1800 £0.195
Washing Machine 700 £0.076
Fridge 35 £0.004

*Statistics above supplied by Scottish Power.

Now imagine you live in a city with a population of just over half a million people – Manchester, for instance – and that one day every resident switches to a more energy efficient kettle that only consumes 1500 watts. Yes, that's only a 300 watt saving per person (we can all do far better than that), yet by doing so across the entire city, energy consumption would drop by a whopping 150,000,000 watts! And that's only based on one boil per day. If, as most of us do, you were to boil it two, maybe even three times a day, the saving would continue to magnify.

TOP TIP: Fancy going one step further? Delve into the world of energy-saving gadgets. Our favourites are low energy lightbulbs, light timers and the energy-saving shower head.

Living in a polluted city? Escape the smog and relocate to a green city with the click of a button!

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The survey: How were the results determined?

The results were gathered by online tech retailer, Music Magpie, in July 2020, and surveyed the lifestyles of 2286 adults from 27 cities across the UK. Applicants were assessed on various aspects of their daily life including their modes of transport and shopping habits, as well as some more obscure factors like how often they buy refurbished tech and the average time spent in the shower. They were then scored on each of these factors individually and the points for each city were combined to form the shortlist below.

The UK’s top fifteen greenest cities


Position
City
Eco Fact
15th Liverpool In Liverpool, 80% either donate to, or buy clothes from charity shops - or both.
14th Bristol 90% of people here reuse shopping bags to minimise plastic waste.
13th Manchester More than half of Mancunians upcycle electronics to prevent them going to landfill.
12th Edinburgh Eco-friendly transport is poular here - half tend to use electric bikes, buses, cars etc. opposed to petrol or diesel vehicles.
11th London You'll be pleased to know that London has the lowest propertion of people using petrol or diesel vehicles in the country at just 44%!
10th Coventry In Coventry, over half wash their clothes at 40 degrees or higher.
9th Portsmouth 6 in 10 people here use reusable water bottles to avoid excess plastic waste.
8th Aberdeen Aberdeen has the highest percentage of people in the UK who use high energy saving lightbulbs at 98%!
7th Southampton Those here spend the lowest time in the shower across the UK, with an average time of just 7:07.
6th Leicester 1 in 5 of people in Leicester reduce their meat consumption through a flexitarian diet.
Joint 5th Newcastle Newcastle has the higest proportion of people who wash their clothes at 30 degrees.
Joint 5th Brighton The propertion of people who buy loose fruit and veg to save plastic here is the highest in the UK.
4th Plymouth 86% of people in Plymouth either donate to, or buy clothes from charity shops - or both.

So, which city placed third?

Oxford took third place with 240.5 points. A city known for its large obsession with cycling and broad range of local farmers’ markets. Ask us though, and we think Oxford’s Library of Things is one of the city's best eco perks. The scheme allows residents to rent equipment for camping, gardening and various other activities, in an effort to minimise the city's waste and any prevent unnecessary spending.

The survey found a third of people in Oxford have adopted a flexitarian diet to reduce meat consumption. Also that half of Oxfordians wash their clothes at 30 degrees or less to save electricity.

How about the city that came second?

In second place was Cardiff with 264 points. And it’s not hard to see why. As of January this year, this city had the highest recycling rates in the UK, with over 60% of waste being recycled, when cities like Manchester hit just 38.5% and London just 33%. Then again, maybe it’s because those who doesn’t comply could be hit with a £100 fine!

Cardiff council have also announced plans for a cycle loop to connect a number of cycleways across the city. Work on this will begin in 2026.

Come the survey and Cardiff not only had the highest proportion of people in the UK who buy refurbished tech (72%) but also a high amount of people who upcycle old household items (68%).

The greenest city in the UK

York took the number one spot with 270 points. As well as being home to a large population of cyclists, the historic walled city has also invested heavily in park and ride services to minimise pollution and keep congestion out of the city.

York City Council has also committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. A major step towards which, will be installing more electric car charging points.

When surveyed, the city ranked top for the amount of people who shop with zero plastic bags and consume homegrown fruit and veg (72%). 69% of people in the city also recycle their old tech or get it refurbished.

Moving to a green city

As you’re probably well aware by now, green cities are brilliant places to live, and in many cases ideal places to invest. With cleaner air, less litter and low congestion, who could argue otherwise? Which is why, if you’ve decided to make the move to a green city, we’ve got you covered.

Armed with 50 years combined experience in buying property, we’re a cash buyer of homes that you can trust. Don’t believe us? Check out our reviews on Trustpilot.

If you're after a speedy onward purchase, selling your house direct to us could be a valuable option to you, even if green cities aren't your cup of tea. With the ability to exchange and complete in as little as 7 days, we could also save you a LOT of time and hassle. A deal you'll be hard pushed to get on the open market.

Want to discover what we'll offer you for your property? Reach out to our team today to receive your no obligation cash offer!

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