State and Local Policy Database

Atlanta

City Scorecard Rank

18

Atlanta, GA

51.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
7.5 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Climate Mitigation Goal

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.

Energy Reduction Goal

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. 

Renewable Energy Goal

Atlanta aims to use clean energy to power 100% of city operations by 2022.

Last updated: June 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Atlanta has made a commitment to convert 20 percent of its municipal fleet to electric vehicles by 2020, however the city does not have any fuel efficiency requirements for its public fleet vehicles in place. The Mayor’s Office of Resilience developed Atlanta’s Alternative Fuel Conversion Plan in partnership with the Electrification Coalition. The plan serves as a guide for the City to achieve its commitment of transitioning 20% of its suitable fleet to electric vehicles by the end of 2020. The Mayor’s Office of Resilience is currently working with departments to assess and discuss opportunities to consider EVs and charging stations. The City has also reserved $2 million from GMA funding specifically for electric vehicles. This money covers the upfront cost of purchasing the vehicles with low interest. Additionally, the 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. We were unable to find data regarding Atlanta’s fleet composition. Atlanta's fleet is composed of 1.7% efficiency vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric.

Public Lighting

Georgia Power’s streetlight conversion program has converted over 50 percent, totaling around 37,000, of their leased streetlights to LEDs. To date 7.2% of the City of Atlanta owned street lights have been replaced with LEDs. The City is currently in a pilot project to evaluate technologies to upgrade all city-owned lights to LED and include cameras, spot-shutters, and sensors integrated in a network of intelligent nodes that will collect data for distribution to the City's police department, transportation office, and other end users. City-owned streetlight conversions are tracked in the city's GIS system.

Green Building Requirements 

In December 2003, the city passed a green building ordinance that applies to city-owned facilities. All major renovations and new construction over 5,000 square feet are required to obtain LEED New Construction Silver Certification or greater. All existing City-financed facilities over 25,000 square feet must gain LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance certification over a phase in period of 10 years. 

Last updated: June 2019

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. Atlanta's benchmarking data can be found here. The City’s Guaranteed Energy Savings Performance Contract (GESPC) Initiative evaluated 181 city buildings for energy and water usage. Phase 1 involved investment grade audits and phase two is currently underway implementing energy saving measures based on the recommendations in phase one. The GESPC is forecasted to save the City $10 million dollars annually.

Public Workforce Commuting

Atlanta has a telework policy for city employees.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 9 out of 12 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Atlanta adopted its Climate Action Plan in 2015.

Last updated: March 2019

Climate Action and Energy Planning GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Atlanta’s Climate Action Plan includes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2009 level by 2030, with an interim goal to reduce emissions 20% below 2009 levels by 2020.

Energy Reduction Goal

The Climate Action Plan also includes a goal to reduce energy consumption in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings 20% below 2009 levels by 2020.

Renewable Energy Goal

The city has a goal to use clean energy to power 100% of community-wide energy needs by 2035.

Energy Data Reporting

The city does not report community-wide energy data.

Last updated: March 2019

Equitable Climate Action and Energy Planning List All

Equitable Community Outreach

The city did not increase its outreach to marginalized groups relative to other city constituencies in the planning and implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Equitable Decision-Making

The city has not created a formal role for local organizations representing low-income or communities of color to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan. 

Accountability to Equity

The city has not established goals or published methods for tracking how energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are reversing any ongoing actions that disadvantage marginalized residents.

Last updated: March 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

Atlanta allows solar by-right accessory use in all zones so that solar systems do not require special permits. The city has also streamlined its permitting process for solar systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The Climate Action Plan includes a goal to increase park land to 7% by 2020 and 10% by 2025 and to increase half-mile proximity to parks to 40% of the population by 2020 and 45% by 2025.

Atlanta has passed a private tree protection ordinance.

The city allows for conservation subdivisions and transfer of development rights that permanently preserves greenspace. 

Last updated: March 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 10 out of 28 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Atlanta has authority to adopt building energy codes at the municipal level but has not done so. The city enforces the state’s energy codes. The city has adopted a benchmarking and disclosure policy for commercial buildings. Atlanta offers several incentives for energy efficiency projects and renewable energy projects. The city requires properties covered under the cities benchmarking ordinance to perform energy audits once every ten years.

Last updated: March 2019

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

Overview

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.

Commercial

Although local authority is permitted, Atlanta has not made any amendments to the state building codes with respect to commercial buildings. The code uses a commercial zEPI score of 66.9.

Residential

Although local authority is permitted, Atlanta has not made any amendments to the state building codes with respect to residential buildings. The code uses a residential zEPI score of 67.7.

Solar- and EV-ready

Atlanta has adopted code provisions required residential and non-residential development install EV-ready infrastructure. We could not find information on whether the city has adopted solar-ready ordinances.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Atlanta requires third-party plan review and performance testing to verify code compliance. We could not find information on the number of full time employees the city staffs to enforce the energy code. We could not find information regarding upfront support for code compliance.

Last updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Atlanta offers six incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Atlanta offers commercial and residential property owners access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. 

The city grants buildings that meet green development criteria both a density bonus and expedited permitting.

Last updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

The Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance requires building owners that benchmark and report energy and water data to conduct energy and water audits once every ten years unless the property meets certain efficiency requirements.

Last updated: March 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

We could not verify if the city has programs committed to developing a dedicated energy efficiency and/or renewable energy workforce.

Last updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Atlanta requires commercial buildings greater than 25,000 square feet to benchmark energy and water use. We could not verify the percentage of building covered nor the compliance rate.

Single-family     

We could not find information on whether the city has adopted a mandatory benchmarking and disclosure policy for single-family home.

Last updated: March 2019

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, which is a subsidiary of Southern Company Gas, 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 that provides the City of Atlanta with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, Georgia Power reported 341,718 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.41% of its retail sales. These figures reported cover Georgia Power’s entire service jurisdiction, not just Atlanta. In 2017, 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.

Georgia Power informally partners with the City of Atlanta on efforts around city-level energy needs, including energy savings and renewable energy goals. For example, Georgia Power has worked closely with the City in connection with the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge, which aims to reduce energy consumption in Atlanta by at least 20% by 2020. Georgia Power has also consulted with the City on its longer term clean energy goals. Atlanta Gas Light partners with the City of Atlanta to support the US DOE's Better Buildings Initiative Energy Data Accelerator

Last Updated: April 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, Georgia Power did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems. Georgia Power does offer other solar program, which allow customers to purchase solar power with long-term fixed price contracts, purchase solar RECs to match up to 100% of energy use, and a community solar program. 

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

At this time, we cannot confirm whether or not the city of Atlanta participates in activities or strategies to help spur or encourage more utility-scale or distributed renewable energy generation from its local electric utility, such as testifying in public utility commission proceedings related to renewable energy, creating a formal partnership with the electric utility on renewable generation, or participating in utility planning efforts to increase renewable generation.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Georgia Power offers the Energy Assessment and Solutions Program (EASP), which assists income-eligible customers with energy savings through education and free home-efficiency improvements. Qualifying customers receive a complimentary in-home assessment to identify potential energy-saving opportunities. The program has an outreach coordinator who works with various organizations to promote the program, such as food banks, senior citizen organizations, churches, local government agencies, and community partners. The program serves both single and multifamily properties. In 2017, Georgia Power’s low-income program served 1,058 customers. Energy savings in 2017 were not available.

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. Georgia Power’s Residential Home Energy Improvement Program (HEIP) promotes a comprehensive, whole house approach to improving the energy efficiency and comfort of existing homes and includes multiple participation paths to appeal to both multifamily and single family residential customers. In 2017, Georgia Power saved 7,151 MWh from its multifamily programs and served 5,961 properties.

Atlanta Gas Light does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties at this time.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Georgia Power developed the Automated Benchmarking Tool (ABT) to enable building owners and property managers to retrieve energy consumption data for upload to the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager. The tool provides aggregate building usage data into a single virtual meter that can be used in Portfolio Manager to generate building benchmark score.

The City of Atlanta has been working with Atlanta Gas Light to establish best practices for building owner data access in order in compliance with the Commercial Benchmarking Ordinance, and AGL and the City have also partnered to support the DOE's Better Building Energy Data Accelerator. The City also participates in Georgia Power's Demand-side Management Working Group, where the City advocated for increased availability of historic data through Georgia Power's Automated Benchmarking Tool, which now provides 24 months of aggregated data on a rolling basis. 

Last Updated: April 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

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. Through an innovative program called Care and Conserve, the City offers water bill payment assistance, plumbing repair assistance and water conservation counseling to approximately 500 low-income households annually. The City has also launched a Water Efficient Restaurant Certificate Program to help restaurants become more water efficient.

The City has also adopted a goal of achieving a 20% reduction in per capita citywide water consumption below its 2009 levels by 2020. We are unable to confirm at this time if the City is on track to meet this goal.

Water plant 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.

Last Updated: April 2019

Transportation
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

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

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.

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

This target of 20% demonstrates an improvement of 1.8% per year.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

We could not verify if the city measures any quantitative progress toward the goal.

Last Updated: March 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

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.

Residential Parking Policies

The City allows one or more parking spaces per residential unit.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

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: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

Atlanta's transportation plan has a target of increase bike/walk/transit from 17% share in 2018 to 35% by 2035.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Atlanta either did not provide or is not making progress toward its mode shift targets.

Complete Streets

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

Car Sharing

There are two car sharing programs currently available to the residents and visitors of Atlanta, zipcar and Enterprise CarShare. At this time, the City does not have a formal policy in place to provide dedicated on-street and off-street parking for carshare vehicles.

Bike Sharing

Relay Bike Share is the City of Atlanta’s bike share operator. With 500 “smart bikes” and over 70 stations across the city, Relay seeks to be a healthy and enjoyable transportation solution.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The MARTA and GRTA transit systems that serve Atlanta have received $296,004,462 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $51.92 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting it in the third highest category ($50-99) available in the City Scorecard.

Access to Transit Services

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 7.9, putting it in the third highest category (7-7.99) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, Atlanta does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

In 2014, the City adopted zoning regulations to ease the installation of EV infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

The City owns 251 charging stations available for public use.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Atlanta has no incentives or requirements available for the installation of private or public EV charging infrastructure powered by renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.).

Last Updated: March 2019

Freight List All

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income Transportation AccessList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

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.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

The Relay Bikeshare system offers a discounted monthly pass option for Students people that receive SNAP benefits ($5.00/month).

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

In the City of Atlanta, almost 56% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: May 2019