State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Charleston, SC

13.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 2 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Charleston adopted the Climate Action Plan in 2021.

Last updated: September 2021

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Climate Action Plan set a long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, with an interim reduction goal of 56% below 2018 levels by 2030. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.

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

Mitigation of Heat Islands 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

We were unable to determine if the city has adopted specific policies or programs that incorporate requirements or incentives to mitigate the urban heat island effect. 

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 2 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Charleston has the authority to adopt energy codes most stringent than that of the state but has not done so. We could not find information on city-mandated benchmarking policies, incentives, or above-code energy action requirements.

Last updated: July 2021

Building Energy CodesList All


While the State of South Carolina allows local jurisdictions to adopt energy codes more stringent than that of the state, state laws make it difficult for cities to adopt amendments. South Carolina has adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. To learn more about the Idaho building codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Charleston enforces the state commercial energy code. The code uses a commercial zEPI score of 67.3.


Charleston enforces the state residential energy code. The code uses a residential zEPI score of 64.8.

Solar-readiness policies 

The city has not adopted solar-ready ordinances but allows solar in all zones. Charleston has a SolSMART Gold designation.

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies

The city has not passed a policy mandating new developments be EV-ready.

Low-energy use requirements

We could not find information on whether the city sets low-energy use requirements for municipal or certain private buildings

Last updated: October 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Charleston requires plan reviews and site inspections to ensure code compliance. The city also provides upfront support by answering questions on code compliance. We could not find information on the number of full-time employees the city staffs to enforce the energy code.

Last updated: July 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

We could not find information on whether the city incentivizes or requires energy-saving actions in existing buildings.

Last updated: July 2021

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: July 2021

Score: 5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The Charleston Green Plan (2009) addresses VMT at length and establishes a goal of maintaining 2010 VMT levels through 2030. 

Language regarding VMT from the Charleston Green Plan: If Charleston maintains the projected 2010 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) level by increasing use of public transportation (CARTA) and/or substituting walking or biking for driving, it could result in a reduction of 152,940 tons of CO2e in 2030 from projected “business as usual” 2030 level.

 The initial inventory of City streets and traffic counts can begin immediately, in 2009. GIS-based street data and a robust traffic count database are readily available and free of charge. By setting the goal of sustaining VMTs for the year 2010, it is intended that the database be complete and ready for annual updates beginning in 2010. 

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

By setting a goal of sustaining VMTs for the year 2010 through to the year 2030, it is intended that the database be complete and ready for annual updates beginning in 2010. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

The City of Charleston is not yet tracking community GHG or VMT levels

Last Updated: October 2021

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning 

The City's Gathering Place District "authorizes mixed-use town, village, and neighborhood centers around the city at major intersections or along traditional commercial streets around the city. Diverse housing, mixed-use, and pedestrian-oriented development are permitted in the district to allow for a variety of housing types to address housing needs, to create concentrations of housing and services at locations accessible by public transportation, and to facilitate an environment conducive to walking."

Residential Parking Requirements

The City's parking requirements do not meet the minimum scoring threshold for the City Scorecard.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosures

The City's zoning code provides height and density bonuses to owners who achieve a predetermined sum of incentive option points. 

Last Updated: October 2021

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Target 

The City of Charleston does not have a codified mode share target.

Progress Toward Mode Shift Target

No data or the city is not pursuing. 

Complete Streets

Resolution 2008-12.

Last Updated: October 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

We could not determine the transit funding per capita for Charleston.

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 Charleston Transit Connectivity Index value is 3.2, scoring 0 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: October 2021

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

No data or city is not pursing. 

Incentives for EV Charging Stations

There are EV charging station incentives in the Upper Peninsula Zoning District. 

EV Infrastructure

The City has 99 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 72 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

Charleston does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

Charleston does not have an EV transit bus goal.

Last Updated: October 2021

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Charleston 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 

No data or city is not pursuing. 

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Qualified individuals are eligible for a CARTA ID which grants the holder a discounted fare. Qualifications must be re-verified every 6 months to be eligible to use the discount fare. Low-Income tickets are available at CARTA Administrative offices and at The SC Works Charleston Career Center.

Last Updated: October 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 2 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Dominion Energy South Carolina, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric and gas utility for the City of Charleston. South Carolina’s investor-owned utilities are required to file integrated resource plans with the Public Service Commission. Some of the utilities operate demand-side management and energy efficiency programs, although such programs are not required in South Carolina. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the South Carolina page of the State Database

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

Last Updated: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, Dominion Energy South Carolina reported 54,251 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.25% of its retail sales across the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not only Charleston. In 2019, Dominion Energy South Carolina spent $15,254,543 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 0.62% of its retail revenue. 

In 2019, Dominion Energy South Carolina reported no spending or savings on natural gas efficiency programs. These savings and spending figures cover the entire service jurisdiction of Dominion Energy South Carolina, not just the City of Charleston. 

Dominion Energy South Carolina offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers. 

The City of Charleston partners with DESC through the EnergyWise for Your Business Program. 

Last Updated: August 2021

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs 

Dominion Energy South Carolina offers the Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Program (NEEP) to single and multifamily households. The program provides income-qualified customers with an energy assessment, energy education, and direct installation of energy-efficiency upgrades. Through NEEP, eligible customers receive free and LED lighting. Dominion Energy South Carolina coordinates with community action agencies, local community groups, and the internal customer assistance department to outreach potential eligible customers. 

In 2019, Dominion Energy South Carolina achieved 3,761 MWh in energy savings, while spending $1,408,521 in its low-income programs and serving 3,607 low-income customers. 

Multifamily Programs 

Dominion Energy South Carolina launched a multifamily program in late 2020. The program provides energy education, an on-site energy survey, and direct installation of select energy-saving measures. The program also provides energy efficiency measures for common areas, such as HVAC upgrades, LED lighting, and water conservation measures.  

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Dominion Energy South Carolina does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings.  The City of Charleston does not provide community-wide energy usage information for community planning and evaluation purposes. The City of Charleston 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: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal  

In February 2020, Dominion Energy set a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this goal, Dominion will need to reduce emissions by 3.23% annually from 2019 levels. 

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid 

At this time, we cannot confirm whether or not the city of Charleston 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: July 2021

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals 

The EnergyWise Savings Online Store offers deep discounts on several water conservation measures including low-flow shower heads, water thermostatic valves (TSV) and faucet aerators to assist customers in saving electricity while conserving water.   At this time, the City of Charleston and its water utility have not established a water savings target or goal. 

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation 

The water utility has not set specific energy efficiency targets or strategies. The city’s water system does not self-generate its own energy. 

Last Updated: August 2021

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

Climate Mitigation Goal

Charleston's Climate Action Plan includes goals to reduce emissions 56% below 2018 levels by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal operations because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis. 

Energy Reduction Goal

The City of Charleston completed an energy performance contract last year to reduce municipal energy use by 47%. 

Renewable Energy Goal

Charleston's Climate Action Plan includes a target to identify feasibility and funding opportunities for renewable energy on city facilities. 

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet policies and composition

We were unable to find information on Charleston’s fleet procurement policies or fuel efficiency requirements. We were unable to find data regarding fleet composition. 

Public lighting 

We were unable to find information regarding the adoption of a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. We were unable to confirm if Charleston has an outdoor lighting upgrade program.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

Charleston has 714kW of installed solar capacity on 6 municipal facilities. 

Inclusive procurement

We were unable to verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

We were unable to find information regarding Charleston’s benchmarking practices.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

We were unable to find information regarding a comprehensive retrofit strategy in Charleston.

Last updated: June 2021