State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Charlotte, NC

24.00Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
4.5 out of 10 points
Local Government Summary List All

The Environmental Focus Area of Charlotte’s Strategic Plan outlines Charlotte’s energy-related initiatives for its internal government operations. Their primary focus is to reduce energy use from municipal facilities and fuel consumption from city vehicles. Charlotte is in the process of finalizing lead-by-example goals to reduce energy use compared to other regional municipalities.  

Last updated: February 2017

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

The City of Charlotte includes general lead-by-example goals for energy efficiency in its strategic plan and is in the process of finalizing a goal of using 15% less electricity compared to city government facilities across the southeast United States.


We are unable to determine the stringency of Charlotte’s local government energy savings goal because it is still under development.


We did not find quantitative data indicating Charlotte was on track to achieve its local government energy use goal.


Charlotte does not produce regular reports detailing progress on energy efficiency-related activities. The city has a Quality of Life Dashboard reporting on various performance indicators, including citywide electricity and natural gas consumption, but the dashboard does not report local government energy or climate indicators.

Last updated: March 2017

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Charlotte's Fleet and Motorized Equipment Asset Management Policy requires the city to “purchase, lease, or otherwise obtain the most energy efficient assets that meet the operational needs of the business unit or agency for which the assets are intended, consistent with its budgetary constraints.” However, the city does not have a specific policy requiring the purchase of energy-efficient vehicles. As for fleet tracking, Charlotte uses a non-web-based management tool called TransitMaster which allows tracking of individual buses.

Note: For local fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing fleet efficiency. Local alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

Public Lighting

Charlotte has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. The city has a pilot LED project in Uptown Charlotte. 229 LED fixtures were installed in 2012. In addition, the city will now use LED fixtures for any new fixture installed. All streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate from dawn to dusk.

New Buildings and Equipment

Charlotte has a Policy for Sustainable Facilities, which has just been approved to include existing building renovations. A key element of the policy is to reduce energy use and carbon footprint. The policy states that all new city facilities and renovations of at least 5,000 square feet must “meet current State Statute (GS 143-135.37) energy consumption targets, which at the time of policy adoption are: new facility consumption calculation 30% below ASHRAE requirement, and major renovation consumption calculation 20% below ASHRAE requirement.” The policy also requires these buildings to complete a LEED checklist and requires any staff with facility construction or renovation project management responsibilities to be a LEED Green Associate or demonstrate an equivalent level of training. The city uses an environmentally preferable purchasing guide that includes ENERGY STAR guidelines.

Last updated: May 2017

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Charlotte benchmarks all of its municipal buildings (approximately 4 million square feet of floor space) across various metrics, including energy consumption. EASY software provides energy use intensity metrics for the portfolio. Charlotte retrofits facilities based on two to three annual audits, in accordance with its formalized energy management plan. The audit results act as a framework and driver for various retrofit projects.

Public Employees

Charlotte implements a flexible work schedule policy that provides regular full-time and part-time employees with the opportunity to request flexible work arrangements.

Last updated: January 2017


Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 2.5 out of 12 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The city is an active partner in Envision Charlotte, which is a public-private partnership that aims to encourage innovations that strengthen economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability, and positive community impacts.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

The city does not currently have community-wide energy efficiency goals.

Charlotte does release annual sustainability updates that report on their community-wide efficiency-related initiatives. The city’s Quality of Life Dashboard details metrics related to community-wide energy efficiency, such as residential electricity consumption.

Last updated: January 2017 

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems - District Energy and Combined Heat and PowerList All

We did not find information on any programs or policies to plan for future district energy systems.   

Last updated: January 2017

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Charlotte’s City Council formally adopted a goal to reach 50% urban tree canopy cover in the city by 2050. The city works to implement this goal through the work of Trees Charlotte. The city has also adopted a private tree protection ordinance. We did not find information on any policies that require or incentivize low impact development (LID) or conservation of private land.

Last updated: January 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 2 out of 28 points
Buildings Summary List All

Charlotte does not have building sector initiatives to improve efficiency. The Department of Land Development Regulation, Plan Review, and Inspection manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Charlotte.

Last Updated: January 2017

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of North Carolina requires local jurisdictions to comply with the state mandated building energy codes. All buildings must comply with the 2012 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code, which is more stringent than the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the ASHRAE 90.1-2010. To learn more about the building codes and requirements for the State of North Carolina, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial construction in Charlotte complies with the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code. Charlotte has not yet begun advocating for increased stringency in commercial building energy codes.


Residential construction in Charlotte complies with the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code. Charlotte has not yet begun advocating for increased stringency in residential building energy codes.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Charlotte does not have internal staff dedicated solely to energy code compliance. The city does not require building code officials to complete energy code training. The city has not made third-party plan review or performance testing mandatory for code compliance, nor has it established either as a voluntary code compliance option. The city does not provide upfront support to developers or owners for energy code compliance. 

Last Updated: January 2017

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Green Building Requirements

Charlotte requires that some public facilities to adhere to green building requirements. Private commercial and residential buildings are not subject to green building requirements.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Charlotte does not require commercial or residential buildings to take energy efficiency actions such as energy audits or retro-commissioning.  

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Charlotte does not provide incentives or financing products for home or building owners making energy efficient upgrades.

Last Updated: January 2017

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Charlotte does not have mandatory or voluntary programs to encourage building benchmarking in any sector. 

CarolinaMLS, the multiple listing service for the Charlotte region, includes energy efficiency categories for the homes listed on the market.

Last Updated: March 2017

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 7.5 out of 20 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Duke Energy Carolinas, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility serving the City of Charlotte. Piedmont Natural Gas, an IOU, is Charlotte’s primary natural gas utility. The State of North Carolina has implemented a renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard in which levels of energy efficiency must be achieved annually by the state’s utilities through demand side programs. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the North Carolina page of the State Database.

Charlotte-Mecklenberg Utilities (CMUD) is the municipal-county utility that provides drinking water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater services to the City of Charlotte.

Last Updated: January 2017

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

According to Duke Energy Carolinas, in 2015 they achieved 473,792 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 0.82% of total retail sales. Duke achieved these savings by spending $57,211,973 on electric efficiency programs in 2015, representing 1.17% of its annual revenue. In 2015, Piedmont Natural Gas either did not spend or did not report spending on natural gas efficiency programs. Spending on electricity efficiency in this section covers the entire North Carolina service territory, not just Charlotte. Duke offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

Duke Energy partnered with Charlotte on Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant projects, which brought energy efficiency programs to the residential and commercial sectors. The Mayor’s Sustainability Office has monthly meetings with Duke Energy representatives to continue to explore opportunities.

Last Updated: January 2017

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Duke Energy Carolinas offers the Neighborhood Energy Saver Program to qualified low-income residential customers. This weatherization assistance program provides measures such as insulation, air sealing, and/or HVAC replacement of an electric heating system. The neighborhood program includes many direct-install measures such as lightbulbs, aerators, showerheads, weatherstripping, door sweeps, caulk and insulation, and water heater adjustments. Both programs are administered in coordination with local agencies that administer state weatherization programs and other agencies selected by Duke Energy.

In 2015, according to Duke Energy Carolinas it achieved 2,669 MWh in energy savings from its low-income programs, while spending $2 million on its low-income efficiency portfolio. These programs served 6,287 low-income customers, with each household receiving an average of $318 and saving an average of 425 kWh.

At this time, Piedmont Natural Gas does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at low-income customers.

Multifamily Programs

Duke Energy Carolinas offers the Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program. This program offers no-cost direct install of high efficiency light bulbs, faucet aerators, showerheads and hot water pipe wrapping in multifamily building units. Piedmont Natural Gas does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties at this time.

Last Updated: June 2017

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Duke provides customers with Personalized Energy Reports, which display monthly trends, compares a customer’s account to other similar accounts, and provides a portal to available energy efficiency programs. Duke Energy does not provide residential building managers and owners with an automatic benchmarking service for use in Portfolio Manager. However, Duke’s Smart Energy in Offices program offers customers a Smart Energy HQ portal that automates benchmarking through a web services integration with Portfolio Manager, seamlessly pushing monthly billing data to new or existing Portfolio Manager accounts. Furthermore, Duke Energy does not provide aggregated energy usage information for community-planning. At this point, the City of Charlotte does not advocate to the state for improvements in data provision by the utilities.

Last Updated: January 2017

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

Although the energy and water utilities do not offer joint energy and water efficiency programs, the city’s WaterSmart program encourages the efficient use of water for indoor and outdoor purposes and offers consumer low-flow plumbing devices, smart irrigation controls, and other products.

Charlotte Water is an active member of the Catawba-Wateree Water Management Group, which released a River Basin Water Supply Master Plan in 2014. This plan includes an evaluation of numerous options to extend the available water supply in the region, and long-term basin-wide strategies to ensure sustainable and efficient water supplies for decades.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

Currently, Charlotte Water is tracking internal monthly energy use for the wastewater and water treatment plants with an internal target of collecting three years of data in order to set improvement goals. Charlotte Water has a goal to increase the number of smart irrigation devices installed by residents by 5% and increase the number of individuals reached through public events and conservation education efforts by 10%. In 2016, Charlotte Water installed 283 smart irrigation devices and reached 27,605 individuals with public events and conservation education efforts. The city’s water system does not self-generate its own energy.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The City of Charlotte has a Post-Construction Stormwater Ordinance that uses green infrastructure to manage stormwater run-off. This ordinance requires no-build zones and undisturbed natural buffers of varying widths along streams. This can require that a portion of the site be left as undisturbed natural area, and the installation of approved on-site stormwater best management practices, such as rain gardens, detention ponds, and wetlands to collect and treat stormwater. This can also include the construction of stormwater detention measures that reduce flooding risks for downstream properties and streets.

Last Updated: January 2017

Score: 7.5 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the City of Charlotte is the Charlotte Area Transit System. CATS also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus and light rail service. The Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Charlotte, and three adjacent counties. The Charlotte Department of Transportation is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2013

Location Efficiency List All

Charlotte’s zoning code includes both pedestrian and transit-supported overlay districts in an effort to create transit-oriented communities. The city requires 2 or more parking spaces per residential unit. There are no incentives available through the city to promote location efficiency.

Last updated: January 2017

Mode Shift List All

Modal Share Targets

Charlotte has not yet implemented a policy to promote a modal shift in transportation.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There is not yet a car sharing program available to the citizens of Charlotte. The city is served by a bikesharing program, Charlotte B-cycle.

Complete Streets

Charlotte has not yet written or codified a Complete Streets Policy.

Last updated: January 2017

Transit List All

The CATS transit system that serves Charlotte received $238,269,721 in average annual funding from 2011-2015. This funding level is $98.20 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the fifth highest category ($50-99) available in the City Scorecard

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 Charlotte’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 7, putting it in the fourth highest category (5-14) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, Charlotte does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. There are no incentives available for the construction of EV charging infrastructure. The city owns 55 charging stations available to the public.

Last updated: January 2017

Freight List All

Sustainable freight plan

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

Smart freight

Charlotte does not employ an internet-based application or service to coordinate freight transport.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Charlotte has a Transportation Action Plan in place that outlines strategies for sustainable transportation and calls for VMT reduction targets in the future. Charlotte does not have a specific, codified reduction target for VMT or greenhouse gas emissions.

Last updated: January 2017

Low-Income in Transit-Oriented Development Areas List All

Charlotte has the Voluntary Mixed Income Housing Development Program in place to encourage mixed-income housing developments in targeted locations, through a voluntary, incentive-based density bonus in several zoning districts.

Last updated: January 2017