Life Abroad
10 min

Students Cities With the Best Ecology

Living in an eco-friendly city is becoming a priority for many people around the world.

Some of the greenest cities are also popular study abroad destinations and hometowns to many top universities. We’ve made this list based on the following factors: 

  • Green spaces. A park is a great place to relax after studying. Meanwhile, the air is cleaner in the park.
  • Public transport. Good public transport means fewer cars and lower CO2 emissions. This is also very convenient and cost-effective for students. 
  • Cycle lanes. Bicycles are the most eco-friendly means of transportation and a cheap way to travel from one place to another. No wonder they are very popular among students. 
  • Clean air and water. Pollution-free air and water contribute a lot to a high standard of living.

Hamburg, Germany

The 2011 European Green Capital, Hamburg is full of vegetation, ranging from expansive public parks and flowery gardens to lakeside beaches and forests. 

Those wishing to reduce their carbon footprint can take advantage of the city's free bicycle rental system. If you need a faster mode of transportation, don't worry: the S-Bahn airport train is powered by electricity. The city plans to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80% in 2050. Public transport is accessible within 300 meters, no matter where you are.

Universities in Hamburg include

the University of Hamburg,

the Hamburg University of Technology,

Hamburg University of Applied Sciences,

HafenCity University Hamburg,

HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration,

the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg,

MSH Medical School Hamburg – University of Applied Sciences and Medical University.

Zürich, Switzerland 

Switzerland boasts some of Europe's most beautiful and pristine natural settings along with an exceptional quality of life. Living in Zürich, you can enjoy nearby hiking and skiing in the Swiss Alps, boat rides on Lake Zürich, and fauna-rich woods to cycle through. The city's environmental laws ensure that the air quality is significantly better than in most cities of the same size. Bicycle zones, fast growth of renewable energy, and innovative waste reduction strategies also add to the green reputation of the city.

Universities in Zürich include

the University of Zürich,

ETH Zürich,

Zürich University of the Arts,

Zürich University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration,

Kalaidos University of Applied Sciences,

Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences,

PHW Business School.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is a pioneer in environmental consciousness. Since 2009, it has introduced a range of innovative energy management projects, including new power hookups for electric cars, solar panels, and domestic wind turbines. Besides, it is currently striving toward a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2025.

Universities in Amsterdam include

the University of Amsterdam,

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,

Amsterdam University College.

Boston, MA, USA

Boston has become one of the most eco-friendly cities over the past few years. Its Climate of Progress initiative aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, incorporating climate change into all future planning. Boston has highly developed public transport and bicycle systems, a famous outdoor green space Boston Common, and one of the greenest airports in the USA with the world's first LEED-certified air terminal.

Universities in Boston include

Harvard University,

Boston College,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Northeastern University,

Tufts University,

Emerson College,

Boston University,

the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Bristol, UK

Pristine environment, low greenhouse gas emissions, and plenty of trees and open areas make Bristol one of the most eco-friendly cities in the world. The city is investing €500 million in green public transportation and €300 million in sustainability and renewable energy. Despite its expanding economy, the city strives to reduce CO2 emissions and has the best air quality in England, making it the greenest spot in the country. The number of cyclists has nearly doubled in recent years. Bristol plans to develop renewable energy sources and cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.

Universities in Bristol include

the University of Bristol,

the University of the West of England, Bristol,

the City Of Bristol College.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen has been awarded as the most environmentally friendly city so many times that it has become commonplace. It is the world’s best city for cyclists. Besides, Copenhagen has set a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. The city is going to reduce CO2 emissions by developing renewable energy sources and providing central heating to all city areas.

Universities in Copenhagen include

the University of Copenhagen,

the University College Copenhagen,

Copenhagen Business Academy,

IT University of Copenhagen,

Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

Malmö, Sweden

If you are interested in green living, Malmö, Sweden's third largest city, is the one that comes out on top. It has one of the world's largest wind farms, an extensive cycling network, as well as many parks and green spaces. Most notably, the city is home to a unique green district housing 10,000 people that uses water harvesting, solar electricity, and wind power to create a 100 percent renewable energy zone.

Universities in Malmö include

Malmö University

and World Maritime University.

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco regularly ranks top among America’s greenest cities. It has a well-developed public transportation system, including the subway, a law requiring residents and businesses to keep recycling and compost material separate from regular trash, as well as a major commitment to solar energy. A good example of the latter is 60,000-square-foot solar paneling on the roof of the San Francisco Convention Center.

Universities in San Francisco include

Stanford University,

University of California, Berkeley,

San Francisco State University,

the University of San Francisco.

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK 

Edinburgh is known as one of the greenest cities in the UK for its air quality and recycling policies. Besides, it has a green space of 233 square meters per person, one of the lowest numbers of car commuters, and a high percentage of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

Universities in Edinburgh include

the University of Edinburgh,

Edinburgh Napier University,

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Campus,

Stevenson College Edinburgh,

Scotland's Rural College.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Regarded as one of the cleanest and most eco-friendly cities in Europe, Reykjavik takes advantage of Iceland’s means of renewable energy. The public transportation system is powered by hydrogen, while central heating and electricity are provided by geothermal power plants. By 2040, Reykjavik aims to become a city with zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Universities in Reykjavik include

the University of Iceland,

Reykjavik University,

Iceland University of the Arts.

Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland ranks among the greenest cities in the country for the amount of renewable energy it generates. Converting 45,000 streetlights to LED technology is one of Portland’s most significant energy efficiency initiatives to date. Streetlights and traffic signals in the city consume 66% less energy now than in 2006, saving the city $1.5 million per year. Portland recovers 81% of all trash produced by city operations via recycling and composting and aimes to make it 90% by 2030.

Universities in Portland include 

Portland State University;

University of Portland;

Reed College.

Cape Town, South Africa

To help build a more sustainable way of life, inhabitants in and around Cape Town have turned to organic farming. The Bo-Kaap Garden, a community food garden built and run by local volunteers, grows organic fruit and vegetables. All revenues are invested into the garden, which provides local retailers and restaurants. The volunteers of the Bo-Kaap Garden also run educational activities for school children.

Universities in Cape Town include

the University of Cape Town,

the University of the Western Cape,

Northlink College.