State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Charlotte, NC

31.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2015
Local Government Operations
Score: 8.5 out of 15 points
Local Government Summary List All

The Environmental Focus Area of Charlotte’s Strategic Plan outlines Charlotte’s energy-related initiatives for its internal government operations. Their primary focus is reducing energy use from municipal facilities and reducing the fuel consumption of the city fleet.

Last updated: December 2014

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

The City of Charlotte has implemented an Internal Environmental Operations Plan (IEOP) that includes a 1% energy reduction target for existing city-owned buildings, but Charlotte does not have an energy efficiency-related goal for its entire local government operations. Charlotte also includes general lead-by-example goals for energy efficiency in its strategic plan.

Last updated: February 2015

Performance Management Strategies List All

We did not find information regarding whether Charlotte has a dedicated funding source or budgeting mechanism for local government efficiency investments.

Charlotte does not produce regular reports detailing progress on energy efficiency-related activities, but the city publicizes some its efforts on its power2charlotte website. The city has a Quality of Life Dashboard reporting on various performance indicators, including some for the environment, but the dashboard does not report local government energy or climate indicators. Charlotte does not use an independent firm for evaluation, monitoring, and verification of energy savings from government operations energy efficiency projects

Charlotte has four fulltime employees managing efficiency efforts in the Engineering & Property Management’s Building Services Division. The city has used competitions and games to encourage energy-efficient behavior. They held an energy-efficiency competition, “Reduce Your Use,” for a city facility to encourage employees on different floors to compete against one another to reduce energy use. The winning floor reduced energy use by more than 7% during the month-long competition. This competition will be continued in other buildings next year. Multiple departments also have recognition opportunities for their employees, including environmentalism.

Last updated: December 2014

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Charlotte’s Fleet and Motorized Equipment Asset Management Policy requires the city to “purchase, lease, or otherwise obtain the most energy efficient assets that meet the operational needs of the business unit or agency for which the assets are intended, consistent with its budgetary constraints.” It also contains an anti-idling requirement for the city fleet.

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

Charlotte has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. The city has a pilot LED project in Uptown Charlotte. 229 LED fixtures were installed in 2012. In addition, the city will now use LED fixtures for any new fixture installed. All streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate from dawn to dusk.

New Buildings and Equipment

Charlotte has a Policy for Sustainable Facilities, which is currently undergoing revisions. A key element of the policy is to reduce energy use and carbon footprint. The policy states that new city facilities must “meet current State Statute (GS 143-135.37) energy consumption targets, which at the time of policy adoption are: new facility consumption calculation 30% below ASHRAE requirement, and major renovation consumption calculation 20% below ASHRAE requirement.” The city uses an environmentally preferable purchasing guide that includes ENERGY STAR guidelines.

Last updated: December 2014

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Charlotte benchmarks all of its municipal buildings (approximately 4 million square feet of floor space) across various metrics, including energy consumption. EASY software provides energy use intensity metrics for the portfolio. The city also has two buildings that participate in Envision Charlotte's Smart Energy Program, which provides up-to-the-minute energy usage to building managers and the public. Charlotte retrofits facilities based on two to three annual audits, in accordance with its formalized energy management plan. The audit results generally act as a framework and driver for various retrofit projects

Sustainable Infrastructure Policies

Charlotte’s Community Investment Plan guides the city’s planning for capital investments. Investments are prioritized in the following order:

1. Maintenance and/or retrofitting of existing infrastructure

2. Replacement of existing infrastructure

3. Expansion of existing infrastructure

4. New infrastructure

Public Employees

Charlotte has established and implemented a flexible work schedule policy (HR 17) as of December 1, 2003. Charlotte subsidized transit passes for city employees in Fiscal Year 2013 and continues to do so as part of its' ongoing transit program, SMARTride. With SMARTride, City employees can turn in their parking space or their place on the parking waiting list for a free pass to ride the CATS bus, LYNX blue line, or Vanpool. 

Last updated: February 2015

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 2.5 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The city is an active partner in Envision Charlotte, which is a public-private partnership that aims to encourage innovations that strengthen economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and positive community impacts.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

The city does not currently have community-wide energy efficiency goals.

Charlotte does release annual sustainability updates that report on their community-wide efficiency-related initiatives. The city’s Quality of Life Dashboard details metrics related to community-wide energy efficiency, such as residential electricity consumption.

Last updated: January 2017 

Performance Management StrategiesList All

Charlotte releases annual sustainability updates that report on their community-wide efficiency-related initiatives and their Quality of Life Dashboard details metrics related to community-wide energy efficiency, such as residential electricity consumption. The city has more than four employees dedicated to community-wide efficiency efforts, including an energy and sustainability manager and sustainability analyst. We did not find information regarding other performance management strategies, including the use of independent EM&V to evaluate savings from community-wide efficiency projects and the existence of dedicated funding for community-wide energy efficiency programs.

Last updated: December 2014

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

We did not find information on any programs or policies to plan for future district energy systems.   

Last updated: January 2017

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Charlotte’s City Council formally adopted a goal to reach 50% urban tree canopy cover in the city by 2050. The city works to implement this goal through the work of Trees Charlotte. The city has also adopted a private tree protection ordinance. We did not find information on any policies that require or incentivize low impact development (LID) or conservation of private land.

Last updated: January 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 2.5 out of 29 points
Buildings Summary List All

Charlotte does not have building sector initiatives to improve efficiency. The Department of Land Development Regulation, Plan Review, and Inspection manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Charlotte.

Last Updated: Oct 2016

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of North Carolina requires local jurisdictions to comply with the state mandated building energy codes. All buildings must comply with the 2012 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code, which is more stringent than the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the ASHRAE 90.1-2010. To learn more about the building codes and requirements for the State of North Carolina, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial construction in Charlotte complies with the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code. Charlotte has not yet begun advocating for increased stringency in commercial building energy codes.


Residential construction in Charlotte complies with the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code. Charlotte has not yet begun advocating for increased stringency in residential building energy codes.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Charlotte 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. Charlotte does not provide upfront support to developers or owners for energy code compliance.

Charlotte does not have dedicated staff for energy code compliance and the city does not require energy code training for officials.

Last Updated: Oct 2016

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Green Building Requirements


Privately-funded commercial and residential buildings are not subject to green building requirements.


Charlotte requires that all construction on county facilities over $2 million must reach LEED Silver Certification. Small projects and renovations must go through a LEED checklist. *check*

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

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

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Charlotte does not provide incentives or financing products for home or building owners making energy efficient upgrades.

Last Updated: Oct 2016

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Triangle MLS, the multiple listing service for the Charlotte region, includes energy efficiency categories for the homes listed on the market.

Last Updated: Oct 2016

Comprehensive Efficiency Services List All

Removed from 2017 Scorecard

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program is not available in Charlotte.

Last Updated: December 2014

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 7 out of 18 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Duke Energy Carolinas, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility serving the City of Charlotte. Piedmont Natural Gas, an IOU, is Charlotte’s primary natural gas utility. The State of North Carolina has implemented a renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard in which levels of energy efficiency must be achieved annually by the state’s utilities through demand side programs. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the North Carolina page of the State Database.

Charlotte-Mecklenberg Utilities (CMUD)is the municipal-county utility which provides drinking water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater services to the City of Charlotte.

Last Updated: December 2014

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2013, according to Duke Energy Carolinas, they spent $54,517,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 0.69% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, Duke reported a net incremental electricity savings of 683,255MWh, representing 0.74% of its retail sales. In 2013, Piedmont Natural Gas either did not spend or did not report spending on natural gas efficiency programs. Spending on electricity efficiency in this section covers the entire North Carolina service territory, not just Charlotte. Duke offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

The City of Charlotte works with Duke Energy to develop energy efficiency programs such as Smart Energy Now which shows real-time usage and trends across Charlotte. Duke Energy partnered with Charlotte in the EECBG projects which brought energy efficiency programs to the residential and commercial sectors. The Mayor’s Sustainability Office has monthly meetings with Duke Energy representatives to continue to explore opportunities.

Charlotte has also begun advocating to the state for legislation increasing the required levels of utility spending and savings for energy efficiency programs. The City of Charlotte worked with the North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM) to advocate for a Duke Energy Carolinas LED Outdoor Lighting Rate Case that would be advantageous for municipalities in North Carolina.

Last Updated: December 2014

Energy Efficiency Targets & Funding Agreements List All

Charlotte’s utilities are not subject to local energy savings targets, but instead must reach state goals.

The City of Charlotte 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

Duke provides customers with Personalized Energy Reports, which display monthly trends, compares a customer’s account to other similar accounts, and provides a portal to available energy efficiency programs. At this time, Duke does not provide building managers and owners with an automatic benchmarking service for use in Portfolio Manager. Charlotte worked with Duke Energy, and with utility commission approval, received data from Duke on residential energy usage at the zip code +4 level for use in the City's Quality of Life report. At this point, the City of Charlotte does not advocate to the state for improvements in data provision by the utilities.

Last Updated: December 2014

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

The city’s WaterSmart program encourages the efficient use of water for indoor and outdoor purposes and offers consumer low-flow plumbing devices, smart irrigation controls, and other products.

CMUD is an active member of the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group, which just released a River Basin Water Supply Master Plan. This plan includes an evaluation of numerous options to extend the available water supply in the region, and long-term basin-wide strategies to ensure sustainable and efficient water supplies for decades.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

Currently, CMUD is tracking internal monthly energy use for the wastewater and water treatment plants with an internal target of collecting three years of data in order to set improvement goals. As of 2014, CMUD is in its second year of data collection.

The city’s water system does not self-generate its own energy.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The City of Charlotte has a Post-Construction Stormwater Ordinance. This ordinance requires no-build zones and undisturbed natural buffers of varying widths along streams. This can require that a portion of the site be left as undisturbed natural area, the installation of approved, on-site stormwater best management practices, such as rain gardens, detention ponds, and wetlands to collect and treat stormwater, and the construction of stormwater detention measures that reduce flooding risks for downstream properties and streets.

Last Updated: December 2014

Score: 11 out of 28 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the City of Charlotte is the Charlotte Area Transit System. CATS also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus and light rail service. The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Charlotte, and three adjacent counties. The Charlotte Department of Transportation is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: June 2013

Location Efficiency List All

Charlotte’s zoning code includes both pedestrian and transit-supported overlay districts in an effort to create transit-oriented communities. The city requires 2 or more parking spaces per residential unit. Charlotte has not yet written or codified a Complete Streets Policy. There are no incentives available through the city to promote location efficiency.

Last updated: December 2014

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

Charlotte has not yet written or implemented a policy to encourage improved integration of transportation and land use planning such as a VMT reduction or mode share target.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There is not yet a car sharing program available to the citizens of Charlotte. The city is served by a bikesharing program, Charlotte B-cycle.

Transportation Demand Management Programs

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) offers an employee transportation coordinator program for city employees, as well as to private/non-profit companies within Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Companies can join this program and help coordinate transit benefits activities for their employees by working with CATS representatives. Those companies can sell bus passes onsite, offer employees telecommute and flexible work schedules, and other benefits. CATS also offers vanpool and carpool services.

Last updated: December 2014

Transit List All

The CATS transit system that serves Charlotte received $168,093,402 in total funding in 2012. This funding level is $221 per resident in the service territory of the agency. In comparison, 2011 spending on roads and parking by the city was $127,866,526, or $165 per city resident.  This results in a ratio of per capita regional transit funding to per capita city highway and parking funding of 1.34 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 Charlotte’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 21,151, 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, Charlotte does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. There are no incentives available for the construction of commercial or private EV charging infrastructure. The city owns one charging station available to the public. Charlotte has not yet established efficient driving rules, such as an anti-idling ordinance, for private vehicles.

Last updated: December 2014

Freight List All

There are 22 intermodal freight facilities within the City of Charlotte’s boundaries, 16 of which we classify as efficient because it is port- or rail-capable. Charlotte’s share of regional freight traffic in 2011, normalized by population, is 14,251 ton-miles. As a result there are 1.123 efficient intermodal facilities per thousand ton-miles of freight traffic, putting the city in the second-highest category for this metric (1-1.999) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: December 2014