World’s most sustainable cities revealed

By Andy Brown18 September 2023

Vienna Vienna, Austria, made it into the top ten on the listing

The Circular Cities Barometer showcasing the world’s top cities leading the transition from a linear to a circular economy has revealed the world’s most sustainable cities, with ‘green’ construction being a key metric.

The barometer is put together by Holcim and Bloomberg Media. In a circular economy, waste does not exist and products and raw materials are designed to be reused repeatedly. 

London in the UK tops the list, driven by the city’s leadership in circular buildings and investment. It is followed by Seattle, US, Copenhagen, Denmark, Paris in France and Switzerland’s Zurich.

Key indicators of circular cities include sustainable buildings with advanced certifications from LEED to BREEAM, broad-based use of renewable energy, people connected with many green mobility options, recycling hubs for materials to stay in use in closed loops, and access to nature with a high level of tree cover inside cities.

Urban planning and investments providing an enabling regulatory environment are key levers cutting across the most advanced circular cities.

“With our world’s rapid urbanisation, cities are at the centre of the shift from a linear ‘take-make-waste’ economy to a circular ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’ one. Holcim is leading the transition to circular building by recycling construction demolition materials into new solutions across all key metropolitan areas where we operate,” said Jan Jenisch, Chairman and CEO of Holcim.

“This Barometer is designed to fast-track circularity by offering unique insights into what the world’s most innovative circular cities are doing to inspire urban leaders around the world.”

Based on a proprietary algorithm, the Barometer scores cities based on the circularity of their buildings, systems, living and leadership.

This year’s Barometer features a new indicator in the Circular Buildings category (Construction and Demolition Waste) and the Circular Leadership Category (Circular Procurement). The database showcases more than 300 best circularity practices from cities all around the world and is updated and expanded on a yearly basis.

World’s top ten cities leading the transition from a linear to a circular economy:

1. London

2. Seattle

3. Copenhagen

4. Paris

5. Zurich

6. Vienna

7. Toronto

8. Washington, D.C.

9. Auckland

10. Sydney

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