State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Buffalo, NY

28.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
3 out of 9 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 have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

The Energy Master Plan establishes a goal to reduce energy use in municipal buildings 20% below 2009 levels by 2020.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal renewable energy goal.

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

We did not 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 preparing to convert all (approximately 32,000) street lights to LEDs. The cities street lights are currently owned by National Grid, the local investor owned utility. 

Green Buildings Requirements

We could not confirm if Buffalo has adopted a green building policy requiring municipal buildings to exceed city-wide energy codes or obtain green building certification.

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

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. Buffalo is also drafting legislation got pass a formal benchmarking mandate for municipal buildings. 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.

Public Workforce Commuting

We did not find information on a policy aimed at reducing commutes of city employees, such as flexible schedules or telework.

Last updated: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 2 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Buffalo’s Energy Master Plan outlines four key action areas that will transition the city into a more efficient energy future.

Last updated: June 2019

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 an 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 renewable energy generation goal.

Energy Data Reporting

The city’s 2015 Energy Master Plan includes community-wide energy data.

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to 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.

Accountability to Equity

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: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

The City of Buffalo operates a district heating system that serves both public and private buildings. The city recently completed a feasibility study and thermal analysis for expanding the system.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

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: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 5.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Buffalo adheres to the state’s energy code. The city does not have policies in place to enforce energy code compliance. Buffalo does not offer incentives for energy efficiency or solar energy projects. The city does not require building owners perform any additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of New York allows local jurisdictions to adopt building energy codes more stringent than the New York State 2016 Energy Conservation Construction Code (NYSECCC). The NYSECCC incorporates the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), ASHRAE 90.1-2013, and the 2016 Energy Code supplement. 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 2015 IECC, per the NYSECCC. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 56.5.


Residential properties must adhere to either the 2015 IECC or ASHRAE 90.1-2013, per the NYSECCC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 53.4.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV-ready.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Buffalo does not have any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city does not require plan reviews, site inspections, or performance testing as a means of compliance verification. 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: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Buffalo does not have a benchmarking, rating, and disclosure policy for commercial and/or multifamily properties.


The city has not adopted a single-family benchmarking and disclosure policy.

Last updated: March 2019

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: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

Buffalo has not adopted a policy requiring building owners to conduct any additional above-code energy-saving actions. 

Last updated: March 2019

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.

The City of Buffalo procurement policy requires a demonstrated good faith effort for all service contracts with the City to realize 25% of total dollar value to Minority Owned Business Enterprises and 5% to Woman Owned Business Enterprises.

Last updated: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 6.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities 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: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, according to Energy Information Administration, National Grid reported 335,563 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.00% of its retail sales across the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not only Buffalo. In 2017, according to its annual report, National Fuel Gas reported 1.51 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 0.37% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. These savings figures cover both utilities’ entire service jurisdiction, not just 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: March 2019

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.

In 2017, NSYERDA’s low-income programs achieved 1,791 MWh savings for National Grid’s service territory while serving 4,218 customers. NYSERDA’s programs achieved 0.29 MMtherms savings while serving 1,265 customers for National Fuel Gas in 2017.

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 2017, NYSERDA’s multifamily programs achieved 2,676 MWh savings and served 953 National Grid customers. Data on NYSERDA savings for National Fuel Gas are not available for 2017.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Neither National Fuel Gas nor National Grid provides building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. 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: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, National Grid did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems.

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: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide 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. 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.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

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: March 2019

Score: 11 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

We could not confirm if Buffalo has a city-wide sustainable transportation plan in place to reduce VMTs.

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: March 2019

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.

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: March 2019

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.

Car Sharing

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

Buffalo is served by Reddy Bikeshare, a partnership between Independent Health and Shared Mobility, Inc., to increase use of alternative modes of transportation and recreation opportunities to promote healthy living and community well-being. The network provides about 200 bicycles for use seasonally throughout Buffalo, available from approximately April to November. The program functions through about 4 dozen docking stations with 2-15 racks per station.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The NFT transit system that serves Buffalo has received $945,959,442.80 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $832.22 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting it in the highest category ($150 or more) 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 Buffalo’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, 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 owns 30 charging stations available for public use.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Buffalo 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: May 2019

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: March 2019

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.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

In the City of Buffalo, 61% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: April 2019