Sustainability is fundamental

What does sustainability in Madison look like? It's about making a mark without leaving one.

When your landscape features five lakes, 200+ miles of bike paths, and 270 public parks, sustainability isn’t just a trend—it’s a tradition. You will find some of the most beautiful scenery in the region that has landed us titles like #11 in 30 Most Beautiful Cities in the U.S. and #4 Greenest Cities in the U.S

Visiting Madison gives you the opportunity to see sustainable travel in action. You can hike through the UW-Madison Arboretum—one of the world’s oldest arboretums with the most varied collection of ecological communities. Discover a rooftop garden at the Madison Children's Museum that is proof you can grow in small spaces. And learn how to reduce waste in your everyday life by shopping at Green Life Trading Co. (you can even build your own sustainable travel kit while you're there).

Governor Nelson State Park, just outside Madison, is named after the father of Earth Day, Governor Gaylord Nelson.

A tradition of sustainability

Madison has been home to environmental pioneers including Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson, who founded Earth Day. And it will always be home for visitors who want the way they explore, eat, shop and sleep to match their mindset.

Designed with sustainability in mind

You can find reminders throughout the city of how Madison champions sustainability. Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace is a LEED Platinum Level certified convention center with an incredible view of Lake Monona, making it a star on our iconic skyline. The City of Madison had the first all-electric fire truck in the U.S. and Madison Metro introduced three all-electric buses into its fleet in summer 2022.

As 1 of only 5 Platinum-Level Bike-Friendly Communities in the U.S., Madison embraces biking as more than a hobby. Our city has made it easy to access bikes, with help from 80 BCycle stations that host a fleet of 500 rentable electric bikes. 

In 2022, riders took 327,845 trips on BCycle e-bikes, which offset more than 869,749 pounds of carbon emissions. That’s the equivalent of 1,351,091 miles driven by an average gas-powered car or 106 homes’ electricity use for one year. It's easy for visitors to reduce their carbon footprint and support sustainability in Madison.

Shop, sip and savor with a purpose

Sustainable living in Madison goes beyond nature. Our community has embraced taking care of the Earth, and each other, by baking sustainability into our shopping and dining experiences. 

Take for instance, the more than 100 thrift shops, flea markets, antique stores and more that inspire secondhand shopping. Or the largest producer-only farmers' market in the country that provides locally-grown food to the masses every weekend. And the grain-to-glass mentality of several of our craft beverage makers that ensures locally-produced ingredients don't go to waste.