State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Atlanta, GA

51.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
7.5 out of 10 points
Local Government Summary List All

Atlanta’s 2015 Climate Action 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: February 2017

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

Atlanta identified a goal to reduce emissions from existing municipal operations by 20% by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80% by 2050 – from 2009 levels – in its 2015 Climate Action Plan, housed under its citywide sustainability initiative called Power to Change. Each target 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. Additionally, through its Energy Savings Performance Contracting Initiative, Atlanta has a goal to reduce municipal energy use 20% by 2020, from a 2009 baseline. The city also has a goal under DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge (BBC) that includes municipal buildings. 


In order to meet its local government greenhouse gas goal, Atlanta would need to reduce emissions by an average of 1.8% per year.


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


The City of Atlanta annually reports municipal energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Their most recent report was the 2014 Municipal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.

Last updated: April 2017

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Atlanta has recently made a commitment regarding the electrification of their public fleet, however the city does not have any fuel efficiency requirements for its public fleet vehicles in place.  Additionally, this city has a green fleet policy, and it is  reducing the size of its fleet by revoking vehicle take-home policies and undertaking a car share program. To further reduce fuel consumption, the city has two behavior-based policies.

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 100% of the street light with LEDs.Additionally, 33% of the city owned outdoor lights have been replaced, and the rest are programmed to be replaced in 2017. 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. At this time, the city has no energy efficiency procurement policies.

Last updated: April 2017

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

In the City of Atlanta, more than 90% of government building square footage has been benchmarked in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Management. Additionally, this City has adopted an Energy Special Procurement Contract to retrofit public buildings.  

Public Employees

Atlanta has a telework policy for city employees.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 9 out of 12 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: April 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 most recent greenhouse gas emissions inventory indicates the city is on track to achieve its near-term climate goal.

Last updated: April 2017

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: April 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: April 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 10 out of 28 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.

Authored by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in April 2015, Atlanta's Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance aims to reduce the city’s energy footprint. The City projects that the ordinance will drive a 20 percent reduction in commercial energy consumption and a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions from 2013 levels by 2030.

Last Updated: January 2017

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of Georgia is a home rule state in which 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 has internal staff dedicated solely to energy code compliance. The city requires building code officials to complete energy code training. Atlanta has made third-party plan review and performance testing mandatory for code compliance. Atlanta does not provide upfront support to developers or owners for energy code compliance. 

Last Updated: January 2017

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

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

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Under the Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance, building owners who are required to benchmark and report to the City their properties’ energy use annually, will also need to complete an energy and water audit once every 10 years.

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

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

Last Updated: February 2017

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Residential and Commercial 

The City of Atlanta require benchmarking and transparency for commercial buildings greater than 25,000 square feet. Implementation began in 2015, and the first annual transparency report will be issued the first quarter of 2017.

Training and Guidance provided by the City or State

The City of Atlanta has provided several benchmarking training sessions and will continue to provide them in 2017. Following the training, a Technical Support Team provides one-on-one technical assistance. Additionally, the Southface Help Desk provides technical assistance during regular business hours. General questions and additional resources can be accessed on the program website

Enforcement Strategy

There is a $2,000/year civil fine for noncompliance. There is no penalty for poor energy performance.​

Energy Use Disclosure 

All commercial properties greater than 25,000 square feet must disclose energy use to the City, which then issues an annual public transparency report on building performance.

Reports and Database

Reports can be found on the program website. The first report will be published the first quarter of 2017.

Last Updated: January 2017

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 8 of 20 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: January 2017

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2015, Georgia Power reported 309,275 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.37% of its retail sales. These savings are due to Georgia Power’s spending on electric efficiency programs, which was $52,646,946 in 2015, representing 0.68% of its annual retail revenue. These figures reported cover Georgia Power’s entire service jurisdiction, not just Atlanta. In 2015, 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.

Atlanta Gas Light partners with the City of Atlanta to support the US DOE's Better Buildings Initiative Energy Data Accelerator. At this time, the City of Atlanta does not have a formal partnership with Georgia Power or Atlanta Gas Light in the form of a jointly-developed or administered energy saving strategy, plan, or agreement.

Last Updated: January 2017

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Georgia Power offers funding to support low-income weatherization. Since 1996, Georgia Power has provided monetary assistance to Resource Services Ministries and the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority to augment their existing weatherization assistance efforts for low-income customers. The program was approved in the 2013 IRP and provided annual funding of $2 million. In 2015, according to Georgia Power, it spent $2 million on its low-income efficiency portfolio, serving 1,300 households. Overall, the program spent an average of $1,538 per household.

Atlanta Gas Light does not offer energy efficiency programs aimed at low-income customers at this time.

Multifamily Programs

Georgia Power offers the EarthCents Program for multifamily properties.  This program is designed to provide multifamily developers with incentives to construct more energy-efficient buildings that would be built following standard building codes. Atlanta Gas Light does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties at this time.

Last Updated: June 2017

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. Additionally, Georgia Power provides the city of Atlanta with aggregated energy usage data for community-planning and evaluation purposes on an annual basis. Furthermore, there is no data-sharing agreement in place between Georgia Power and the city of Atlanta.

Last Updated: January 2017

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

Although the energy and water utilities do not offer joint efficiency programs, the Office of Water Efficiency does offer water efficiency programs. For example, they offer Water Saver Kits available to water customers. Each kit contains a showerhead, faucet aerator, and toilet-leak-detection tablets. The City of Atlanta offers rebates for high-efficiency toilets for residential and multifamily units. The City has also adopted a goal of achieving a 20% reduction in per capita citywide water consumption below its 2009 levels 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 below 2009 levels 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 2016 Green Infrastructure Strategic Action Plan incorporates best practices into stormwater management, with a goal of reducing the city’s stormwater runoff by 225 million gallons annually. The City also has a Green Infrastructure Task Force which consists of city staff and partner organizations. Currently, more than 10 green infrastructure projects are underway.

Last Updated: January 2017

Score: 17 out of 30 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: January 2017

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. 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: January 2017

Mode Shift List All

Modal Share Targets

To promote a modal shift in transportation, Atlanta included the goal to increase bicycle-commute-to-work share by 2.2% by 2016, and increase employee commute miles 25% by 2017in 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. This city is also served by relay, a bicycle sharing program.  

Complete Streets

Atlanta has adopted a complete streets policy, but has not received an NCSC score.

Last updated: January 2017

Transit List All

The MARTA and GRTA transit systems that serve Atlanta have received $716,499,862 in average annual funding from 2011-2015. This funding level is $125.46 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting it in the fourth highest category (100-149) available in the City Scorecard. 

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Atlanta’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 18, putting it in the third highest category (15-29) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient VehiclesList 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 zoning regulations to ease the installation of EV infrastructure. The city owns 160 charging stations available for public use. 

Last updated: January 2017

Freight List All

Sustainable freight plan

Atlanta does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Smart freight

Atlanta does not employ an internet-based application or service to coordinate freight transport.

Last updated: January 2017 

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Atlanta has a goal in place to reduce emissions from transportation by 20% by 2020 as part of its’ Climate Action Plan. The plan outlines several strategies to achieve this goal including: expanding the Atlanta BeltLine and other TODs, introducing parking pricing, greater transit investment, more pedestrian facilities and bicycle sharing. We did not find information on whether these goals were codified.

Last updated: January 2017 

Low-Income in Transit-Oriented Development Areas List All

The Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) housing policies as part of Plan 2040 call for providing a range of housing choices to accommodate households of all income levels, sizes, and needs and to ensure that workers in the community have the option to live there. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority also has guidelines for creating mixed-income, senior and workforce housing around metro stations. The Housing Opportunity Bond program provides land acquisition, bridge financing and second mortgage gap loans for affordable housing, with preference towards projects around mass transit.

Last updated: January 2017