State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Atlanta, GA

47.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2015
Local Government Operations
Score: 8 out of 15 points
Local Government Summary List All

Atlanta’s Sustainability Plan details the city’s energy goals for its internal government operations. To date, the city’s focus has been on reducing energy use at City Hall, reducing gasoline usage in the municipal fleet, and increasing recycling at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The Office of Sustainability works with city departments to coordinate implementation efforts toward their local government goals.

Last updated: December 2014

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

Atlanta identified a goal to reduce energy use for existing municipal operations by 15% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050 in its 2010 Sustainability Plan, Power to Change (P2catl), but we did not locate the executive order or ordinance formally adopting these goals. Each target in Power to Change was vetted through local subject matter experts and discussed with stakeholders in the community. P2catl is an initiative created by the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in collaboration with over 300 stakeholders across Atlanta representing neighborhoods, schools, business, community organizations, and government agencies.

We did not find quantitative data indicating Atlanta was on track to achieve its nearest-term local government energy use goal.

Last updated: December 2014

Performance Management Strategies List All

We could not confirm if Atlanta has a dedicated source of funding for implementation efforts.

The City of Atlanta recently hired a sustainability management analyst with the objective of publishing annual performance reports and updates at public hearings for local government operations and for the community-wide efforts. The most recent report will be published later in 2014. Atlanta uses an independent firm for evaluation, monitoring, and verification of progress toward its local government goals.

The Office of Sustainability has five fulltime employees, plus the recently created sustainability management analyst position, focused on instituting environmental protection practices into the city government. Each city department has their own department level accountability plan, which incorporates actions that support the city's Sustainability Plan. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has the responsibility for making sure that departments are recognized for energy efficiency measures. Recognition for performance in the past has included acknowledgement from the mayor, mayor’s cabinet-level presentations where departments are highlighted amongst their peers, and public recognition by highlighting efforts on public website. 

Last updated: December 2014

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Atlanta has a green fleet policy but it does not contain fuel efficiency requirements. The city is reducing the size of its fleet by revoking vehicle take-home policies and launching a car share program. To further reduce fuel consumption, the city has two behavior-based policies. In 2013, Atlanta passed anti-idling and alternative commute policies. Employees are prohibited to idling to 3 minutes or 1 minute if within 2 miles of a school (exceptions apply). Further, employees are encouraged to take alternative transportation to meetings during the workday.

Note: For local fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing fleet efficiency. Local alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

Public Lighting

Georgia Power replaced 744 lights in 2014 and recently completed a needs assessment. The balance of the public lighting owned by Georgia Power is on a schedule to be replaced. The city owned outdoor lights are also scheduled for replacement. Today, $1 million in funding has been approved by the city council to start the work. All streetlights are designed to be connected to photo sensors.

New Buildings and Equipment

In December 2003, the city passed a green building ordinance that applies to city-owned facilities and city-funded projects and more specifically to all new construction and renovation projects in which the building has 5,000 square feet of occupied space or the total project cost exceeds $2 million. The policy requires these projects to incorporate sustainable design principles and meet LEED Silver standards, but the requirements do not specifically emphasize completion of the energy efficiency elements of the certification. We could not confirm if the city has any energy efficiency procurement policies.

Last updated: December 2014

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

A benchmarking policy for municipal buildings is not currently in place, but Atlanta hired a new City Energy Project (CEP) Advisor, who is considering options for benchmarking policies and retrofits. The city is a DOE Better Buildings Challenge Community Partner, with 33 million square feet committed, including municipal buildings. We did not find information regarding efficiency improvements made thus far to Atlanta’s municipal building stock.

Sustainable Infrastructure Policies

Atlanta revised its Sustainability Design Standards by adopting Ordinance O3-O-1693. The standards require lifecycle cost accounting to be incorporated into the design, construction, deconstruction, operation, and maintenance of all city-owned and financed building.

Public Employees

Atlanta has a telework policy for city employees. The city also subsidizes public transit fares for its employees and conducts various outreach events such as “Walk Day” and “Give Your Car the Day Off.” Atlanta is also a part of the Georgia Commute Options and the Georgia Clean Air Campaign, organizations that encourage the use of public transportation, car pooling, and car sharing.

Last updated: December 2014

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 4.5 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

Atlanta’s Power to Change initiative leads the city’s implementation of its general community-wide sustainability projects.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

The Atlanta Climate Action Plan contains goals to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption in both residential and commercial buildings. The plan’s climate goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% below a 2009 baseline by 2020 and 40% below a 2009 baseline by 2030. The plan also calls for a 20% reduction in energy consumption below 2009 levels by 2020 and a 40% reduction below 2009 levels by 2030. The city council formally adopted the climate plan with Resolution 15-R-4042.

The city releases annual greenhouse gas emissions inventories to provide the public with updates on progress made towards achieving the city’s goals. The 2014 greenhouse gas emissions inventory indicates the city is on track to be within 25% of its near-term climate goal.

Last updated: January 2017

Performance Management StrategiesList All

Atlanta recently hired staff with the objective of publishing annual performance reports and updates at public hearings – for the local government and community-wide efforts. The city publishes annual community-wide greenhouse gas inventories, 2012 and 2013. The most recent report is being verified by an independent contractor and will be published in Q4 of 2014. The city does use an independent firm for evaluation, monitoring, and verification of progress toward community-wide goals. Atlanta had dedicated staff for local government operations efficiency efforts and in June of 2014, the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability created the Sustainability Management Analyst position. One of the main functions of the Sustainability Management Analyst is to track and implement community-wide energy/climate goals. We could not confirm if Atlanta has a dedicated funding source or budgeting mechanism for community-wide energy management or efficiency investments.

Last updated: February 2015

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems - District Energy and Combined Heat and PowerList All

Atlanta does not have programs and policies to plan for future district energy systems.

Last updated: January 2017

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Atlanta recently entered an agreement with Trees Atlanta, a local nonprofit, to plant 4,000 15 gallon trees between 2015 and 2017.

The city has adopted a transfer of development rights policy which provides development bonuses for those real estate developers that permanently protect greenspace. The city’s conservation subdivision ordinance encourages the permanent protection of land alongside dense residential development patterns. The city has also adopted a private tree protection ordinance, but it has not adopted policies that require or incentivize the use of low impact development (LID) techniques.

Last updated: January 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 7.5 out of 29 points
Buildings Summary List All

Atlanta has some building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including an energy savings target. The Office of Buildings within the Department of Planning and Community Development manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Atlanta.

Last Updated: December 2014

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of Georgia is a home rule state where jurisdictions may set their own building energy codes. The state has made two optional building codes available to any jurisdiction to adopt, the 2011 Georgia State Minimum Standard Energy Code and the 2011 Georgia State Minimum Residential Green Building Standard. The residential section of this code is based on the 2009 IECC, and the commercial section is based on ASHRAE 90.1-2007. To learn more about the Georgia building codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Although local authority is permitted, Atlanta has not made any amendments to the state building codes with respect to commercial buildings.


Although local authority is permitted, Atlanta has not made any amendments to the state building codes with respect to residential buildings.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Atlanta reported a budget of $9,025,292 for the building code department in 2013. This level of spending normalizes to $13.88 per $1,000 of residential construction spending for the city.

Atlanta has not made third-party plan review or performance testing mandatory for code compliance, nor has it established either as a voluntary code compliance option. Atlanta does not provide upfront support to developers or owners for energy code compliance. Atlanta does not require training specific to energy code plan review and inspection for city code officials.

Last Updated: December 2014

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Building Energy Savings Goals

Atlanta has set its energy savings goal in conjunction with its involvement as a DOE Better Buildings Challenge Community Partner. Atlanta has committed to a 20% reduction in energy intensity by 2020. This commitment covers 33 million square feet of private building stock.

Green Building Requirements

In 2003, Atlanta passed a green building ordinance that applies to new construction and renovation of city-owned facilities and city-funded projects. Buildings must have 5,000 square feet of occupied space or the total project cost must exceed $2 million to qualify under the ordinance. These projects must incorporate sustainable design principles and must meet LEED Silver rating. Privately-funded commercial and residential buildings are not subject to green building requirements.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Atlanta does not yet require commercial or residential buildings to take energy efficiency actions such as energy audits or retro-commissioning.

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

PACE financing is available through Ordinance 12-R-1617 for improvements to commercial, industiral, and multifamily buildings. 

Last Updated: December 2014

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

In April 2015, the Atlanta City Council passed a building energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance

Last Updated: May 2015

Comprehensive Efficiency Services List All

The Southface Home Performance program, which employs Home Performance with ENERGY STAR standards, is available to Atlanta residents. Georgia Power’s Home Energy Improvement Program provides incentives for whole house energy improvements to residential customers. The Multifamily Home Energy Improvement Program and the Commercial Custom Program provide rebates for comprehensive improvements to multifamily and small commercial buildings.

Last Updated: December 2014

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 9 of 18 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Georgia Power, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility for the City of Atlanta. The primary natural gas supplier for Atlanta is Atlanta Gas Light, an IOU. The City of Atlanta is an active promoter of Georgia Power’s electric and Atlanta Gas Light’s gas efficiency programs. The State of Georgia requires electric utilities to file Integrated Resource Plans (IRP) to the Georgia Public Service Commission every three years. These plans may include Demand Side Management programs. Natural Gas utilities are not required to file IRPs. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Georgia page of the State Database.

The Atlanta Watershed Management Division is the municipal utility which provides the City of Atlanta with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: December 2014

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2013, according to Georgia Power, they spent $30,260,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 0.40% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, Georgia Power reported a net incremental electricity savings of 320,157MWh, representing 0.39% of its retail sales. These figures reported cover Georgia Power’s entire service jurisdiction, not just Atlanta. In 2013, Atlanta Gas Light either did not spend or did not report spending on natural gas efficiency programs. Georgia Power offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers. Atlanta Gas Light similarly offers natural gas efficiency tips to residential and business customers.

The City of Atlanta partnered with Georgia Power in the Home Energy Makeover contest, in which one family won a full home energy retrofit. Atlanta also promotes natural gas and electric efficiency programs online and in mailings.

Last Updated: December 2014

Energy Efficiency Targets & Funding Agreements List All

No local energy efficiency goal has been identified for utilities serving Atlanta.

The City of Atlanta does not have a franchise agreement or municipal aggregation contract in place to ensure energy efficiency while powering city operations.

Last Updated: December 2014

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, Georgia Power makes use of the EnergyDirect data sharing platform. Using this same platform, Georgia Power provides building managers with automated benchmarking data for use in Portfolio Manager. Georgia Power does not currently provide the community with aggregated energy usage data. The City of Atlanta, as part of the City Energy Project, is working to accelerate access to energy data to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

Last Updated: December 2014

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

The Office of Water Efficiency makes Water Saver Kits available to its water customers. Each kit contains a showerhead, faucet aerator, and toilet-leak-detection tablets. The city also offers rebates for high-efficiency toilets for residential and multifamily units. The City of Atlanta has also adopted a goal of achieving a 20% reduction in per capita citywide water consumption by 2020.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

Under the Power to Change initiative, all city facilities, including the Department of Watershed Management facilities are striving to meet a 20% energy reduction by 2020. The RM Clayton wastewater treatment facility’s combined heat and power system converts waste biogas into energy which is used on-site.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Atlanta’s Green Infrastructure Ordinance promotes green infrastructure and runoff reduction practices and complies with the metropolitan north Georgia water planning district’s model Post-Development Stormwater Management Ordinance. The city also has an ordinance to allow and regulate rainwater harvesting to control stormwater runoffs.

Since 2009, the City of Atlanta has required the installation of water sub-meters for new and some existing multifamily and mixed-use, multi-tenant buildings.

Last Updated: December 2014

Score: 18.5 out of 28 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authorities that serve the city of Atlanta are The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA). MARTA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus and light rail service. GRTA provides the Xpress. The Atlanta Regional Commission is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Atlanta, and many surrounding counties. The Office of Transportation is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: December 2014

Location Efficiency List All

Atlanta has mandatory neighborhood form-based codes in addition to citywide floating zones that have been in place since 1999. The city also has transit-oriented development-specific codes for the Doraville and Edgewood neighborhoods. The city allows one or more parking spaces per residential unit. Atlanta has not yet written or codified a Complete Streets Policy. As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, Atlanta provides density bonuses to developers who build in Buckhead in an effort to create a denser, more compact neighborhood.

Last updated: December 2014

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

To improve integration of transportation and land use planning, Atlanta included the goal to increase bicycle-commute-to-work share by 2.2% by 2016 in the Connect Atlanta plan.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There are two car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Atlanta, zipcar and Enterprise CarShare. Atlanta Bike Share is scheduled to launch soon.

Transportation Demand Management Programs

To reduce the frequency of single-occupancy trips, Atlanta provides commuter incentives to employees by offering public transit passes at a 50% discounted rate. Atlanta also partners with Clean Air Campaign which runs the GA Commute Options Program. These services make commuting options easier.

Last updated: December 2014

Transit List All

The MARTA and GRTA transit systems that serve Atlanta received $713,612,194 in total funding in 2012. This funding level is $411 per resident in the service territory of the agency. In comparison, 2011 spending on roads and parking by the city was $40,831,251, or $92.06 per city resident. This results in a ratio of per capita regional transit funding to per capita city highway and parking funding of 4.92 to 1.

The Transit Connectivity Index measures how many transit rides are available per week within walking distance from the average household. The City of Atlanta’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 20,265, putting it in the second highest category (20,000 - 50,000) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: December 2014

Efficient Vehicles and Driver Behavior List All

At this time, Atlanta does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. However, in 2014, the city adopted new zoning regulations to ease the installation of EV infrastructure. The city doesn't own any charging stations available for public use. 

Atlanta prohibits the idling of a truck or bus for more than 15 minutes on any street or public place through the Atlanta Code of Ordinances (Section 150-97(c))

Last updated: December 2014

Freight List All

There are 28 intermodal freight facilities within the City of Atlanta’s boundaries, 21 of which we classify as efficient because they are port- or rail-capable. Atlanta’s share of regional freight traffic in 2011, normalized by population, is 9,834 ton-miles. As a result there are 2.14 efficient intermodal facilities per thousand ton-miles of freight traffic, putting the city in the highest category for this metric (2+) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: December 2014