World Environment Day is a time when many Americans begin to think about the environment and simple ways to lessen their carbon footprint.

For some, this may mean recycling paper and plastic waste more often, and others may join a forest restoration project. Some home buyers might even help the cause by finding a more energy efficient home. Owning a green home, one that has features that lower its impact on the environment, has a number of benefits, from tax credit eligibility to personal satisfaction.

When shopping for a green home, buyers can consider purchasing a property and making upgrades themselves. Luckily, however, many existing and new homes that already feature energy saving windows, water heaters and insulation because more consumers and manufacturers are doing their part to preserve the earth.

Redfin, an online real estate marketplace, ranked the top green U.S. neighborhoods. Not only can this information help environmentally conscious buyers find neighbors with similar interests, but it can also help them find homes that already have green features.

Chicago and Austin top the list

To create the ranking, Redfin first made a list of 20 major metropolitan areas. Then, researchers combed through the listings for homes in those areas to find properties with certain green features. These included dual-pane windows, energy efficient appliances, low-flow faucets, solar panels and certification programs and environmental ratings such as Energy Star, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and Built Green. These listings were compared to the total listings for each neighborhood, which were ranked based on their proportion of green homes.

There were a few ties on the list:

  1. Valley View in Chicago (39 percent)
  2. Mueller/RMMA in Austin, Texas (39 percent)
  3. Carpenter Village in Raleigh, N.C. (37 percent)
  4. Downtown Bellevue in Seattle (36 percent)
  5. Downtown Denver in Denver (32 percent)
  6. Downtown Woodstock in Atlanta (31 percent)
  7. Galindo in Austin, Texas (30 percent)
  8. Columbia City in Seattle (30 percent)
  9. Overlook in Portland, Ore. (26 percent)
  10. Briar Chapel in Raleigh, N.C. (26 percent)

A closer look at the data

Of all metro areas tracked, Seattle had the most neighborhoods where 10 percent or more of the homes for sale had green features. Twenty of the city's sections met this criterion. Austin and Houston followed, with seven and six neighborhoods, respectively.

Another interesting point was that many of the green homes Redfin found weren't new homes. In fact, most of the homes were not new. Furthermore, green homes tend to have a median sale price $47,600 higher than for homes without green features.

"This is a list every homeowner can effect by upgrading their home with eco-friendly features," said Julie Jacobson, a Redfin real estate agent in Los Angeles. "All of these features reduce your home's impact on the environment. Going green also means saving money on monthly bills, especially when you take advantage of the various rebates and tax incentives available - it can really be a win-win."