State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Buffalo, NY

Scored out of 250Updated 05/2024
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 1 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

We could not find a community-wide climate mitigation goal, but the city’s Energy Master Plan includes a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory.

Energy Reduction Goal

The city does not have a community-wide energy reduction goal, but the Energy Master Plan identifies approaches to improving Buffalo’s energy efficiency.

Renewable Energy Goal

The city does not have a community-wide renewable energy generation goal.

Last updated: September 2021

Equity-Driven Approaches to Clean Energy Planning, Implementation, and EvaluationList All

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Equity Accountability Measures

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups. 

Last updated: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: September 2021

Adaptive Mitigation List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

We could not verify if the city has adopted a quantifiable urban heat island mitigation goal.

UHI Policies and Programs

The city’s Green Code requires that new developments incorporate green infrastructure as the first option for stormwater management. Developments may pursue other stormwater management strategies only if green infrastructure proves infeasible.

The Green Code also includes a private tree protection ordinance for trees larger than 6 inches in diameter at breast height.

Last updated: September 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Buffalo Public Schools offer career and technical education for students in solar technology, with some schools offering students the opportunity for hands-on training and a chance to earn certification in solar installation.

Last updated: July 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 6.5 out of 30 points
Building Energy CodesList All


The State of New York allows local jurisdictions to adopt building energy codes more stringent than the New York State 2020 Energy Conservation Construction Code (NYSECCC). The NYSECCC incorporates the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). As stated in the Five Cities plan, the City of Buffalo enforces the NYSECCC. To learn more about the building energy code requirements for the State of New York, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties must adhere to the 2018 IECC, per the NYSECCC. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 51.7.


Residential properties must adhere to the 2018 IECC, per the NYSECCC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 47.

Solar-readiness policies

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar-ready. The Buffalo Green Code allows for the development of on-site renewable energy systems in six (6) zones

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be EV-ready.

Last updated: July 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Buffalo does not have any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement.  The city requires plan reviews and site inspections to verify energy code compliance. We were unable to determine if the city requires performance testing to verify energy code compliance. The city does not offer upfront support for energy code compliance, but New York State offers training seminars, certification, and in-person training on the energy code.

Last updated: July 2021

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All


The city’s Energy Master Plan outlines state incentives for energy efficiency projects, but the city itself does not offer incentives for energy efficiency or solar energy projects.

Last updated: July 2021

Score: 7.5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The local metropolitan planning organization, Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council, has a sustainable transportation plan called Moving Forward 2020.

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

At this time, the city does not have a codified vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

We could not determine if the City tracks VMT or GHG numbers.

Last Updated: October 2021

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The city's Land Use Plan of 2016 highlights mixed-use development as a land use recommendation and transportation-oriented development. Additionally, the Master Energy Plan highlights the Green Code, which supports transit-oriented-development, mixed-use development, and compact development. New developments of certain size and in certain zones under the Buffalo Green Code are required to complete a TDM plan.

Residential Parking Policies

Per Article 8 of the Buffalo Green Code Unified Development Ordinance, the recently adopted code does not require mandated parking minimums for new developments in the City but does require a minimum number of bicycle parking facilities and a transportation demand management (TDM) plan for new developments of exceeding certain size.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

We could not determine if the City offers incentives to encourage compact, mixed-use development.

Last Updated: October 2021

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The Bicycle Facilities Master Plan sets the following mode share goal for cyclists:

  • 2017 – 3.2%
  • 2021 – 6%
  • 2025 – 10%

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

The City is currently not on track to meet its goals.

Complete Streets

Buffalo adopted its complete streets policy in 2008. This policy requires pedestrian and bicycle facilities to be included in all new street construction, reconstruction, maintenance, public works, and park projects.

Last Updated: October 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Buffalo have received $78,993,231.60 on average annually between 2015 and 2019. That equates to roughly $80.46 per capita between 2015 and 2019 within the service area. 

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 Buffalo’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 7.8, scoring 1 point in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: October 2021

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

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

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

National Grid offers a time of use rate class (SC-1 VTOU), which benefits residential EV owners by offering lower electricity cost for recharging at night. National Grid has an Electric Vehicle Charging Station Infrastructure Program. National Grid offered funding for approximately 30 Level II charging station installations and 4 fast charging installations. They also provided money to help update electric distribution equipment (distribution network, transformer, meter) and customer equipment (panel, conductor/trenching, etc.) to help facilitate the installation of electric vehicle charging stations.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 386 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 151.2 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

Buffalo does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

Buffalo does not have an EV transit bus goal.

Last Updated: October 2021

Freight System EfficiencyList All

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

Last Updated: October 2021

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Buffalo does not have any requirements or incentives in place to develop or preserve affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Buffalo does not currently provide rebates or incentives to low-income residents for efficient transportation options.

Last Updated: October 2021

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 8 out of 15 points
Community Energy Infrastructure Summary List All

National Grid NY, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility for the City of Buffalo. The primary natural gas supplier for Buffalo is National Fuel Gas, an IOU. The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) is the state-wide agency that administers energy-efficiency programs. The State of New York requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS and efficiency requirements in utility EEPSs. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the New York page of the State Database

Buffalo Water is the municipal utility that provides the City of Buffalo with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management. 

Last Updated: July 2021  

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, National Grid and NYSERDA reported 529,365 MWh of total net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.56% of its retail sales across the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not only Buffalo. In 2019, National Grid and NYSERDA spent $143,193,382 on National Grid's electric energy efficiency programs, which represents 6.57% of its electric retail revenue.

In 2019, according to National Fuel Gas and NYSERDA, they achieved 3.26 MMtherms of natural gas savings, which represents 0.64% of retail sales. In 2019, according to National Fuel Gas and NYSERDA, they spent $11,843,121 on natural gas energy efficiency programs for National Fuel Gas customers, which is $23.65 per residential customer. These savings figures cover National Fuel Gas's entire service jurisdiction, not just the City of Buffalo. 

National Grid offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers. National Fuel Gas similarly offers natural gas efficiency programs to residential customers. 

At this time, the City of Buffalo does not have a formal partnership with National Grid NY or National Fuel Gas in the form of a jointly developed or administered energy saving strategy, plan, or agreement. 

Last Updated: August 2021  

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs 

NYSERDA offers the EmPower New York program to qualified low-income residential National Grid customers. This program addresses both electric and natural gas end uses, while providing no-cost energy efficiency solutions including air sealing, insulation, replacement of inefficient refrigerators and freezers, water efficiency measures, thermostats, and new energy-efficient lighting in order to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, the EmPower program includes health and safety checks of smoke detectors and appliances. Households that receive HEAP benefits, utility bill payment assistance, or participate in the federal Weatherization Assistance Program are automatically eligible. NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program and RetrofitNY initiatives also have low-income saving components. See the next section for more information. 

According to ACEEE analysis, in 2019, according to NSYERDA, their low-income programs for National Grid and National Fuel Gas achieved 3,031 MWh and 0.10 MMtherms savings across National Grid’s service territory. Spending and customers served were not available. 

Multifamily Programs 

NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program provides incentives for owners to incorporate energy efficiency into affordable buildings for National Grid customers. A Multifamily Building Solutions Provider will work with the owner to evaluate the building’s systems holistically, creating a customized plan aimed at generating a minimum of 20% source energy savings along with reduced energy bills. For projects that could reach deeper energy savings, the High-Performance Component targets a minimum of 40% source energy savings with a maximum post-construction source energy use intensity (EUI) of 100 kBtu/sq ft./yr. 

In 2018, NYSERDA launched the RetrofitNY initiative. The goal of this program is to drive market transformation by industrializing and standardizing the design and construction processes to achieve deep levels of cost compression, which will drive large scale adoption of deep energy and net zero retrofits in multifamily buildings. RetrofitNY approaches retrofits from a whole building perspective and targets multiple health and resiliency benefits as associated outcomes of building work-scope. NYSERDA funds are used in conjunction with other subsidy and financing offered from local, state and federal sources as a financing package coordinated through relevant affordable housing agencies.    

In addition to the NYSERDA programs, National Grid offers a multifamily program that provides no cost direct install of high-efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators, and thermostatic radiator valves. It also provides rebates for high efficiency natural gas heating and water heating, insulation, programmable thermostats, boiler reset controls, steam traps, and custom efficiency measures. 

According to ACEEE analysis, in 2019, NYSERDA’s multifamily programs achieved 8,906 MWh and 0.10 MMtherms savings for National Grid and National Fuel Gas customers. Data on National Grid’s multifamily spending and customers served were not available for 2019. 

Last Updated: July 2021  

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

National Grid provides building owners support to use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool through the EPA Portolo Manager.  The city of Buffalo does not provide community-wide energy usage information at the aggregate level for community planning and evaluation purposes.  

The City of Buffalo registered comments with the NY PSC requesting additional transparency regarding data. The comments were submitted on August 8, 2017, during the most recent National Grid New York PSC rate case (Case # 17-E-0238). 

Last Updated: July 2021  

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Cities and Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal  

In 2020, National Grid set a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, along with interim targets of 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 from a 1990 baseline. To achieve the goal of 80% by 2030, National Grid will need to reduce emissions by 2.6% annually from 2019 levels from US operations.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid 

In 2017, the City of Buffalo registered comments with the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) requesting that the utility spur distributed and renewable generation. The comments were submitted on August 8, 2017, during the most recent National Grid New York PSC rate case (Case # 17-E-0238). The City encouraged the PSC to evaluate how the tariff can support and encourage local, distributed generation, such as minimizing interconnection barriers, high costs for standby power, and rate penalties as generators reduce their energy demand. 

Last Updated: August 2021

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals 

At this time, neither National Grid NY nor National Fuel Gas partners with the Buffalo Water Department to offer joint energy and water efficiency programs. At this point, the City of Buffalo has not established a water savings target or goal. 

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation 

The Water Board had an energy audit preformed and is near completion in its Energy Performance Construction Contract, which implemented many recommendations including new pumps, HVAC, and lighting upgrades or replacements. 

The Buffalo Sewer Authority, a public benefit corporation of the City of Buffalo that serves more than 550,000 residents over a collection system area of 110 square miles, produces energy through its water treatment processes. Methane gas generated during the digestion process is captured for use in the boilers and incinerators to reduce the reliance on natural gas. More information is available online. Buffalo Sewer Authority released an RFQ in December 2018 to explore engineering options for harnessing capacity of digestion infrastructure to increase energy generation while reducing landfill waste streams in the region. 

Last Updated: July 2021

Local Government Score:
2 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Buffalo released the Energy Master Plan to guide its municipal energy conservation efforts.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not currently have a quantitative climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

The Energy Master Plan established a goal to reduce energy use in municipal buildings 20% below 2009 levels by 2020. An upcoming GHG emissions inventory that will be used to assess success in achieving the goal is being developed.

Renewable Energy Goal

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

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

We were unable to find information on fleet procurement or fuel efficiency requirements policies adopted by the City. However, Buffalo’s Energy Master Plan includes actions to replace vehicles with high-efficiency and hybrid vehicles, but does not enact such a requirement. We were unable to find data regarding fleet composition.

Public Lighting

We did not find information regarding the adoption of a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. Buffalo is converting all (approximately 32,000) streetlights to LED. The city has converted 2.5% of streetlights so far though an improvement program that aligns outdoor lighting upgrades with ongoing street redesign and streetscape projects. 

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

Buffalo has installed renewable systems on 17 city-owned facilities. These facilities have solar PV arrays with a combined 255kW capacity. 

Inclusive procurement

While we were unable to verify that this policy has been applied to energy projects, Buffalo’s procurement policy requires a demonstrated good faith effort for all service contracts to realize 25% of total dollar value to Minority Owned Business Enterprises and 5% to Woman Owned Business Enterprises.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking 

Buffalo is currently in the process of benchmarking all buildings above 1,000 square feet by putting the usage data on ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The City’s energy consultant is working toward 100% and scrubbing the data for accuracy. The City plans to make data publicly available when deemed accurate. Energy benchmarking legislation is currently in progress, and is anticipated to be sponsored in the Common Council in 2021.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

Buffalo has relied on energy audits, specifically usage or cost per building, when prioritizing efficiency retrofits. 17 buildings have received comprehensive retrofits over the last 5 years yielding a 2,000,000 kwh energy savings. This accounts for 40% of the City’s owned building assets.

Last updated: June 2021