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 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 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

We were unable to find information regarding a municipal renewable energy goal.

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

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. 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.   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. We were unable to find data regarding Atlanta’s fleet composition.

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 

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: March 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. 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: March 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, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Georgia Power had 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.

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. However, the City of Atlanta set a goal to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035, with a long-term goal of achieving community-wide clean energy in Atlanta by 2050. Georgia Power is consistently engaged with the City, as well as all local governments and municipalities, on strategy for any sustainability goals and how they can most cost effectively achieve those goals. Georgia Power offers multiple renewable and energy efficiency options that could be utilized throughout the process, some of which are already in progress.

Last Updated: March 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.

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. There is no data-sharing agreement in place between Georgia Power and the city of Atlanta. At this time, the City of Atlanta does not advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers or the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities.

Last Updated: March 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. The City has also adopted a goal of achieving a 20% reduction in per capita citywide water consumption below its 2009 levels by 2020.

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: March 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

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 2017 in the Connect Atlanta plan.

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

The City of Atlanta allows the installation of bikeshare docking stations and kiosks on public property, including the public right-of-way areas. 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: March 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

Currently, the City of Atlanta does not provide rebates or incentives to low-income residents for efficient transportation options, including bike sharing, EV car sharing, or public transit. The City does not yet have targeted low-income bike share or EV car share programs.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

In the City of Atlanta, almost 54% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: March 2019