It is tough to define the best green places on the Island because those that follow sustainable principles - from solar power to foot power - are sprinkled throughout neighborhoods from working-class to wealthy. But if you look through the lens of sustainable principles - such as a centralized downtown, open-space preservation, clean-energy use and access to public transportation - several communities stand out.
East Hampton's fashionable downtown boutiques are easily accessible by bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and walkways; at 40 homes, it tops the Long Island Power Authority's Solar Pioneer Program for most homes using solar power.
One can stroll through Greenport's rejuvenated downtown - held up as a jewel of sustainable planning - to restaurants, shops, an ice rink and a carousel. In Nassau, Oyster Bay's access to the Long Island Rail Road, downtown shopping district and preserved spaces downtown make it one of the greener communities around. Up-and-coming initiatives in Levittown are designed to encourage homeowners to try sustainable design in a small way like choosing EPA Energy Star-qualified light bulbs or in a big way by switching to clean energy like biofuels.
Shoreham, which already has the largest number of EPA Energy Star-labeled homes, at 127, has a major forward-thinking green plan on the drawing board. Dubbed the Tallgrass project, the mixed-use planned development district, or PDD, will include concentrated residential units, some commercial space, ballfields, a village green and a farmers' market.