State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Cleveland, OH

39.00Scored out of 100Updated 5/2015
Local Government Operations
Score: 8.5 out of 15 points
Local Government Summary List All

The Sustainable Cleveland Municipal Action Plan articulates Cleveland’s energy-related goal for its internal government operations. The Office of Sustainability oversees implementation of the government operations goal and facilitates interdepartmental coordination.

Last updated: December 2014

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

The Sustainable Cleveland Municipal Action Plan identified goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from local government operations 10% below 2010 levels by 2016, 20% below 2010 levels by 2020, and 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. The city did not formally adopt these goals through legislation or an executive order.

According to data in Cleveland's 2014 CDP submission, the city reduced its local government greenhouse gas emissions by 2% between 2010 and 2012. The city is not currently on track for its local government operations GHG goal for 2020.

Last updated: February 2015

Performance Management Strategies List All

In 2013, the city established the Dedicated Energy Fund through Ordinance 727-13. The fund is currently being ramped up through rebates from previous energy efficiency projects and energy efficiency was integrated into the capital planning process beginning in late 2013.

Cleveland annually reports its greenhouse gas emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project and annual reports building energy usage in a sampling of buildings as required by their Better Buildings goal. Implementation of the Municipal Action Plan has been integrated into the larger Sustainable Cleveland initiative, which includes numerous community engagements throughout the year including the Annual Sustainable Cleveland Summit. The city does not employ an independent third-party to evaluate progress toward goals, but all building energy data submitted for the Better Building Challenge is reviewed and verified by U.S. DOE.

Cleveland has a fulltime energy manager, based in the Office of Sustainability, whose primary role is making municipal buildings more energy efficient. A number of other employees, including an energy intern, assist the energy manager. The Office of Sustainability offers departments support in processing rebates for energy efficiency projects, which then go back into energy projects through the Dedicated Energy Fund, but the city does not offer financial or non-financial incentives for energy efficiency actions to departments or individual staff.

Last updated: December 2014

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Cleveland does not have efficiency requirements for its fleet, but the city has added 62 hybrids to the fleet and has enacted an anti-idling ordinance for fleet vehicles as well. 

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

Cleveland has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. Cleveland completed a LED streetlight pilot program in 2013, the results from which are currently being used to establish standard specifications for the city. Outdoor lighting is being replaced with energy efficiency alternatives. Streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate from dawn to dusk.

New Buildings and Equipment

The Sustainable Municipal Building Policy requires new municipal construction and major renovations to achieve LEED Silver standards and achieve energy efficiency levels 30% beyond ASHRAE 90.1. The policy also requires the city to purchase ENERGY STAR appliances and water efficient products.  

Last updated: February 2015

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

All municipal buildings are benchmarked and then exported to Portfolio Manager. The city is a DOE Better Buildings Challenge Community Partner, with 4.5 million square feet committed, including municipal buildings.

Sustainable Infrastructure Policies

A "fix it first" policy is incorporated into the Sustainable Municipal Building Policy and the majority of Cleveland’s capital budget, as summarized in the 5-year capital plan, is used for maintenance of existing assets.

Public Employees

Cleveland's HR policies allow for employees, with approval from supervisors, to establish flex time and alternative work schedules. The city offers employees a pre-tax monthly pass for the Regional Transit Authority, but the city does not provide any additional transit benefits to employees.

Last updated: February 2015

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 3.5 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability leads the city’s implementation of its community-wide energy efficiency initiatives.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

The Cleveland Climate Action Plan identifies goals to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 16% below 2010 levels by 2020, 40% below 2010 levels by 2030, and 80% below 2010 levels by 2050. The plan also identified goals to reduce residential and commercial energy use 50% and industrial energy use 30% under 2010 levels. We did not locate an executive order or city council resolution that formally adopted these goals.

The city does release regular progress updates that track progress on implementation goals to support the climate action plan. The city has not updated its community-wide greenhouse gas or energy inventories, and thus we are unable to determine if the city is on track to achieve its goals.

Last updated: January 2017

Performance Management StrategiesList All

Cleveland updates its community-wide greenhouse gas inventory every two to three years, but it annually reports emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project. The city also updates applicable metrics on its Sustainable Cleveland Dashboard on an annual basis. There is at least one employee in Cleveland Public Power (Cleveland's municipal electric utility), Office of Sustainability, and Department of Community Development who are involved in community-wide energy efficiency programs, policy, and outreach. Cleveland Public Power participates in an energy efficiency rebates program, but the city does not have other dedicated funding for community-wide energy efficiency-related initiatives. Cleveland does not use an independent third party to evaluate savings from community-wide efficiency projects.   

Last updated: February 2015

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

The Cleveland Tree Plan was adopted by the Cleveland Planning Commission in March 2016 with an urban heat island mitigation goal to increase urban tree canopy coverage in the city to 40% of land area by 2040.

The city participates in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program which has provided grants for incorporating low impact development techniques in site design. The city has not adopted a private tree protection ordinance or policies that require or incentivize the conservation of private land.

Last updated: January 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 6.5 out of 29 points
Buildings Summary List All

Cleveland has some building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including a buildings energy savings target. The Department of Building and Housing manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Cleveland.

Last Updated: December 2014

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of Ohio has set mandatory building energy codes statewide. The Ohio Board of Building Standards adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1-2010 with amendments, effective January 1, 2017. To learn more about Ohio’s building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial buildings in Cleveland comply with the state mandated codes. The city has begun advocating at the state level for increased stringency in the commercial building energy codes. Several community organizations and volunteer groups, including Environmental Health Watch and the Green Building Coalition advocate for more stringent building energy codes as well.


Residential buildings in Cleveland comply with the state mandated codes. The city has begun advocating at the state level for increased stringency in the residential building energy codes. Several community organizations and volunteer groups, including Environmental Health Watch and the Green Building Coalition advocate for more stringent building energy codes as well.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Cleveland reported a budget of $6,650,604 for residential code compliance and enforcement in 2013. This level of spending normalizes to $301 per $1,000 of residential construction spending for the city. Cleveland provides upfront information regarding tax abatement opportunities for meeting green building standards for residential construction, but otherwise does not provide upfront support to developers or owners for energy code compliance. Cleveland 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.

Last Updated: December 2014

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Building Energy Savings Goals

Cleveland is a US DOE Better Buildings Challenge Community Partner, committing to a 20% reduction in energy intensity in a portfolio of public and private buildings.

Green Building Requirements

Cleveland has green building requirements for municipal buildings, but commercial and residential buildings are not subject to green building requirements.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Cleveland 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

Cleveland provides a 100% tax abatement for residential new construction that meets Cleveland’s Green Building Standard and offers commercial PACE funding. Cleveland Public Power, the municipal utility, offers energy efficiency rebates through a partnership with Efficiency Smart.

Last Updated: December 2014

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Cleveland does not have mandatory or voluntary programs to encourage building benchmarking in any sector. The MLS service that serves the Cleveland area includes fields for energy-efficient measures.

Last Updated: December 2014

Comprehensive Efficiency Services List All

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program is available to all homeowners in Cleveland through Dominion.

Last Updated: December 2014

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 10 out of 18 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company (CEI), an investor-owned utility (IOU) and subsidiary to FirstEnergy, is the primary electric utility serving Cleveland. Dominion East Ohio, an IOU, is Cleveland’s primary gas utility. The State of Ohio requires spending and savings targets for its IOU through an EERS (SB221). The utilities must propose energy efficiency plans and file annual reports to the commission. However, 2014 legislation placed a two-year freeze on energy efficiency requirements. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Ohio page of the State Database.

Cleveland Water provides drinking water services and stormwater management to the City of Cleveland. The Northeast Ohio Sewer District (NEORSD) is a regional wastewater utility that serves Cleveland.

Last Updated: February 2015

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2013, according to CEI, they spent $15,130,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 1.81% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, CEI’s net incremental electricity savings was 198,146MWh, representing 1.05% of its retail sales. In the same year, Dominion East Ohio reported through a data request spending $10,700,000 on natural gas efficiency programs. The expenditures normalize to $9.68 per residential customer. Data on natural gas savings resulting from these programs is not available. Spending on electricity and natural gas represented in this section covers the entire Ohio service territory, not just Cleveland. CEI offers electric efficiency incentives to residential and commercial customers.

The City of Cleveland partners with CEI or Dominion East Ohio to promote participation in their energy efficiency programs. For example, the city's Council of Smaller Enterprises works with Dominion East Ohio to offer energy efficiency programs designed to save Ohio businesses money on their energy bills. While the mayor is an advocate for energy efficiency and has written op-eds supporting the state's energy efficiency standards, Cleveland has not yet begun advocating to the state for increased spending and savings requirements for the utilities.

Last Updated: February 2015

Energy Efficiency Targets & Funding Agreements List All

Cleveland’s utilities do not have a local target. Cleveland advocated heavily for initial passage of SB 221 to support state targets, and subsequently defended it before requirements were lifted in 2014. The city also aggregates electricity for residential and small business customers of CEI. This aggregation currently includes 100% renewable energy and funds energy audits for municipal facilities.

Last Updated: February 2015

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

CEI has not yet committed to the Green Button or another online service to provide customers with their energy consumption data. CEI does not provide building managers or owners with automatic whole-building benchmarking data for input into Portfolio Manager. CEI provides community-wide energy use data in response to city requests. Under its Climate Action Plan, the City of Cleveland has begun to advocate for improvements in data provision by the utilities.

Last Updated: December 2014

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

NEORSD funds a rain barrel program and Cleveland Water helps administer its implementation. The Sustainable Cleveland Municipal Action Plan set targets for reducing water use in municipal facilities (20% by 2020 and 50% by 2030), but community-wide savings targets have not been set.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

The Sustainable Cleveland Municipal Action Plan describes Cleveland’s water efficiency, water conservation, and water reuse and recycling strategies. Cleveland’s total energy use reduction goal (10% by 2020 and 20% by 2020) includes energy use from pumping water, which is the largest source of energy use in Cleveland. NEORSD’s Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant uses waste heat to generate electricity for use onsite.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

NEORSD provides green infrastructure grants to assist local governments and residents address flooding, erosion, and water quality concerns through innovative stormwater management practices, and stream and wetland restoration. This includes local demonstrations of rain gardens, bioretention, and other site based stormwater management practices. In addition, Cleveland has also passed a Complete and Green Streets ordinance that requires consideration of green infrastructure on street projects.

Last Updated: February 2015

Score: 10.5 out of 28 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving Cleveland is the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA). RTA provides the public transportation for the city and other communities in Cuyahoga County, including bus and rail services. The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Cleveland and surrounding jurisdictions. Cleveland’s Department of Public Works is charged with managing the city’s transportation network. Along with Public Works, the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects also plays a major role in transportation project implementation, including vehicle infrastructure (Public Works and Chiefs) through Capital Improvement Plans. The City’s Department of Port Control also owns and operates two of the largest airports in this region.

Last updated: February 2015

Location Efficiency List All

Cleveland’s does not currently have a zoning code that promotes smart growth. Cleveland requires 1 parking space per residential unit across the city, with reduced parking requirements in some downtown districts. Cleveland passed its Complete and Green Streets Ordinance (#798-11) in 2011. 

Last updated: December 2014

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

Cleveland does not currently have a plan or targets in place to reduce VMT or improve mod

Car and Bicycle Sharing

Cleveland does not have a comprehensive car sharing program, but the city is currently working to develop one. Also, Cleveland does not currently have a bike share program, but the city, working with a Bike Share Task Force, recently completed a Bike Share Feasibility Study and Implementation Plan. The city’s bike share program could be installed by 2015.

Transportation Demand Management Programs

Cleveland has a telecommuting and alternative work schedule policy for municipal employees only and also provides pre-tax transit passes to municipal employees. The city has not yet implemented other transportation demand management programs to reduce the number of single occupancy vehicle trips or trips during rush hour.

Last updated: December 2014

Transit List All

The RTA transit system that serves Cleveland received $262,307,831 in total funding in 2012. This funding level is $185.75 per resident in the service territory of the agency. In comparison, 2011 spending on roads and parking by the city was $30,093,592 or $77per city resident. This results in a ratio of per capita regional transit funding to per capita city highway and parking funding of 2.42 to 1.

The Transit Connectivity Index measures how many transit rides are available per week within walking distance from the average household. Cleveland’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 38,308, putting it in a high mid-range category (20,000 - 50,000) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: December 2014

Efficient Vehicles and Driver Behavior List All

At this time, Cleveland 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 local government has not made any EV charging stations available for public use. 

Also, municipal staff engage with the Northeast Ohio Clean Transportation Coalition, which works to reduce petroleum use in transportation.

Last updated: December 2014

Freight List All

There are 26 intermodal freight facilities within Cleveland’s boundaries, 25 of which we classify as efficient because they are port- or rail-capable. Cleveland’s share of regional freight traffic in 2011, normalized by population, is 14,002 ton-miles. As a result, there are 1.785 efficient intermodal facilities per thousand ton-miles of freight traffic, putting the city in the second highest category for this metric (2+) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: December 2014