The Most Eco-Friendly Workers by State

David Luther
by David Luther
Rankings - 11 months ago
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Remember when we thought that computers would make offices paperless? There was a point during the computer age’s infancy when people thought that email might make that dream come true, but as it turns out, “paper people” who unnecessarily print out emails and whatnot are going to confound those efforts.

Disappointingly, the introduction of email to offices boosts paper output at a typical company by 40 percent — and it’s the workplace and the commute to get there that make of the bulk of the average person’s carbon footprint, and some states have more environmentally friendly workers than others.

With about half of suburban areas’ CO2 emissions coming from transportation, we took a look at what different states are doing to reduce their impact on the environment and ranked them.

Some of the results are surprising, some of them not so much — did your state make the top ten? Read on to find out, but here’s a quick list of the top ten states with the most eco-friendly workers:

  1. California
  2. Washington
  3. Oregon
  4. Colorado
  5. Massachusetts
  6. Illinois
  7. Vermont
  8. Minnesota
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Utah

Our eco-friendly office methodology

While the average American consumes the equivalent of almost six 40-foot trees a year, whatever draconian measures your boss might put on toilet paper rations won’t curb your impact on the environment nearly as much as they might claim.

State laws, commuting patterns, and other environmental factors bear more weight, so we made an index based off of a variety of factors:

  • Commuting Habits — We ranked states by more environmentally friendly commuting patterns, such as carpooling, biking, walking, and taking public transit to work.
  • State laws encouraging fuel efficient vehicles — These states place legislative importance on reducing carbon emissions, so we added up all of the laws and gave a point for each.
  • State Energy Efficiency Scorecard — We used this comprehensive measurement of utilities, transportation, energy codes and expenditures, and other initiatives to assign a value to workers’ general energy consumption on the job, so we took the rank and multiplied them by two for points.
  • Energy Efficiency Jobs Report — we ranked the percentage of workers in each state who worked in energy efficiency industries, taking the rankings times two for points.
  • Laws and Regulations on Emissions and Pollution Similarly to the fuel efficiency laws, we reward states for having eco-friendly regulations and laws governing pollution.

The ten states with the most eco-friendly workers in America

State Overall Rank Score Energy Job Rank Energy Efficiency Rank Green Commute Rank Clean Energy Laws
California 1 1,011 10 2 4 1
Washington 2 561 31 8 6 2
Oregon 3 536 20 7 3 5
Colorado 4 517 15 14 8 3
Massachusetts 5 516 3 1 13 16
Illinois 6 499 16 13 16 4
Vermont 7 475 1 3 9 27
Minnesota 8 475 7 10 20 14
Rhode Island 9 467 12 4 24 10
Utah 10 465 13 19 10 8

Greener forms of commuting

Hawaii dominates this field with 189 out of 200 points, beating the next closest competitor by a relatively large margin of 17 points — but I mean: it’s not like you have to alternately transport anything too far, given its limited footpath. The real stunner here was second place: Alaska.

Alaska, who was in the top five for biking, walking, and carpooling; beat the third place by five points. I mean, how could it possibly be the most walkable of all states? Don’t they have snow, short days, bears, and rabid moose to contend with?

Well, maybe a couple of things: it has the lowest vehicle-miles traveled of any state in the country, as well as the third most alcohol consumed per capita and third highest DUI rate in the country. So you know, maybe they just don’t have licenses.

The Southwest didn’t fair too well in the green forms of transportation — but with the combined heat and sprawling community areas, that’s not really a surprise.

The South, with all of its muddin’ trucks and whatnot, fared poorly in general, with none of the states breaking out of the bottom half. Then again, have you experienced a summer on the Gulf Coast? It’s so humid, you’re swimming to your car more than walking — and with the sweat stains, it’ll look like you actually were in the water.

Laws focused on encouraging green driving

This category focuses on laws that promote two eco-friendly areas: green driving solutions (electric, hybrid, and plug-in electric vehicles) and financial incentives (grants, tax incentives and exemptions, loans, and rebates).

We gave three points for each law — but then we noticed that states that have little or no state income tax have a natural disadvantage in this ranking, as there’s really no way for them to reward green vehicle owners. To combat this, we set a floor for each category in the overall rankings, but even then the trend noticed earlier seemed to continue.

This is, we suspect, not coincidental, as the states that place less value on environmental conservation also tend to be the more politically conservative — which is of course loosely correlated to tax rates.

So yeah, red states don’t have as many laws encouraging salutary environmental practices because they want to protect their freedoms to keep more of their incomes to spend on gas guzzled by diesel trucks with muddin’ tires.

Eco-friendly vehicle regulations

The next part of our index also took laws into consideration, ones spanning a pretty broad spectrum:

  • Fuel taxes and production
  • Air quality or emissions
  • Climate change or energy initiatives
  • Renewable fuel standard

And the role of party politics continues. Those same laissez-faire folks who dislike the government telling them what to do with the air they breathe also tend to disdain regulatory considerations for the time when petroleum runs out.

The South is again woefully behind the West and Northeast coasts, with the exception of Louisiana — perhaps all of those natural gas workers down there are a bit more cognizant of the rapidly dwindling supplies of fossil fuels.

Wrapping it all up — in environmentally friendly packaging

So there you have it, the states where workers leave the smallest carbon footprint in the country — with the likely eco-warriors on the West Coast leaving the smallest dent on the environment, with all of their laws and hybrid vehicles.

So what can you do to change this? Well, outside of moving to California, you can reduce your own, individual footprint by taking greener forms of transportation.

Or, if you really want to make an impact, you can try voting for politicians who support environmentally friendly laws, which will make more of a difference than a Prius.

The most eco-friendly workers in America by state

State Overall Rank Score Energy Job Rank Energy Efficiency Rank Green Commute Rank Clean Energy Laws
California 1 1,011 10 2 4 1
Washington 2 561 31 8 6 2
Oregon 3 536 20 7 3 5
Colorado 4 517 15 14 8 3
Massachusetts 5 516 3 1 13 16
Illinois 6 499 16 13 16 4
Vermont 7 475 1 3 9 27
Minnesota 8 475 7 10 20 14
Rhode Island 9 467 12 4 24 10
Utah 10 465 13 19 10 8
Hawaii 11 459 27 16 1 24
Maryland 12 448 11 9 22 15
Arizona 13 443 29 17 11 12
New York 14 437 44 5 12 9
Connecticut 15 415 45 6 25 7
Virginia 16 398 14 32 27 6
Maine 17 379 19 12 19 36
New Jersey 18 371 38 23 23 11
Alaska 19 347 5 40 2 49
Michigan 20 346 36 11 34 21
Iowa 21 337 25 15 26 35
Florida 22 336 34 25 29 19
Wyoming 23 335 2 49 5 39
Pennsylvania 24 333 39 18 14 38
Wisconsin 25 313 46 21 21 26
Montana 26 309 28 37 7 46
Nevada 27 307 33 36 17 23
Texas 28 307 48 26 32 17
New Mexico 29 302 21 34 15 37
Georgia 30 302 22 35 35 20
North Carolina 31 300 37 29 40 18
Oklahoma 32 295 6 44 38 22
Indiana 33 278 30 42 37 13
New Hampshire 34 270 35 20 47 28
Idaho 35 269 50 33 18 33
Ohio 36 268 17 28 46 44
Missouri 37 267 24 31 42 30
Kansas 38 260 9 47 36 34
North Dakota 39 258 8 50 31 43
Nebraska 40 255 18 41 33 41
West Virginia 41 252 4 43 43 42
Delaware 42 250 49 22 44 31
South Dakota 43 248 23 48 28 29
Kentucky 44 247 26 30 39 45
Louisiana 45 227 32 46 30 32
South Carolina 46 225 42 39 41 25
Tennessee 47 202 40 24 49 40
Arkansas 48 199 43 27 45 47
Mississippi 49 124 47 45 48 48
Alabama 50 121 41 38 50 50

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