The largest US cities – New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – score best in economic factors but are hindered by poor transportation infrastructure, lack of green spaces and diminishing affordable housing, according to the inaugural Sustainable Cities Index by ARCADIS, the leading global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm.

This first-of-its-kind sustainability index, which was conducted by the UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), explores three key demands – social (People), environmental (Planet) and economic (Profit) – to develop a ranking of 50 of the world’s leading cities based on 20 key indicators.

Experts agree a sustainable city should meet the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The 2015 index finds that while no utopian city exists, city leaders are managing a complex balancing act of generating strong financial returns and maintaining an attractive place for people to live and work while limiting damage to the environment.

None of the North American cities studied makes it into the Index’s top 10, with Toronto ranking the highest overall at 12th place. Boston and Chicago (ranked No. 15 and 19 respectively) are the most sustainable of all U.S. cities included in the ranking. This is compared to Frankfort, London and Copenhagen ranking in the top three, respectively.

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