Diversity is indeed the spice of life, and I imagine living in a homogenous “green light district” would get tedious, but it would also be difficult maintaining an eco-friendly home in a town where your fellow denizens don’t give a toss about recycling or renewable energy.

Not that it’s an ideal time to pack up and relocate, but according to the western living mavens at Sunset, those with green leanings will feel at home in Corvallis, Oregon, a town of 51,388 where the average home price costs around $265, 388. 

In Sunset’s recent ranking of five “best eco-friendly towns in the West,” the college town of Corvallis in Oregon’s scenic Willamette Valley came in numero uno. The green rep is well deserved. According to the EPA’s Green Power Communities program, Corvallis purchases more green energy than any other city in the nation (13 percent of the city’s total purchased electricity). I’ve never been to Corvallis myself, but from the way Sunset and other sources describe it, the cozy town is full of energy-conscious, fair trade coffee-swilling, bike-riding, highly educated atheists. Groovy. 

Rounding out Sunset’s list are Palo Alto and Truckee in California, Boulder, and decidedly not-so-small Salt Lake City. I was saddened not to see a town from my native state of Washington on the list, but I’ll settle with my hometown of Tacoma being ranked the most “sexually healthy city for women” by Self in 2006. I never knew there was so much healthy hitting of the sheets, organic or otherwise, going on in T-town.

In an interesting twist, Corvallis’s neighbor 81 miles to the north, Portland, just topped Business Week’s list of “America’s Unhappiest Cities.” Also unhappy are St. Louis, New Orleans, Detroit and Cleveland. The Business Week list has nothing to do with environmentalism; it's based on depression, suicide, unemployment, crime and divorce statistics along with the number of cloudy days.

Photo: Corvallis Oregon

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Living in a greenster's paradise
Finding it hard to keep an eco-friendly home in a town without like-minded neighbors? Corvallis, Oregon, is calling ...