State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Charlotte, NC

30.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 3.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Charlotte passed the Strategic Energy Master Plan in 2018.

Last updated: September 2021

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

In the Strategic Energy Master Plan, Charlotte adopted a goal to reduce GHG emissions to 2tCO2e per capita by 2050, using a 2015 baseline. Based on past years of emissions data, ACEEE projects the city will not achieve its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal of 2tCO2e per capita by 2050.

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.

Accountability to Equity

The Office of Equity, Mobility, and Immigrant Integration used an adapted version of the GARE (government alliance for racial equity) tool during the budget process that required every department to take an added step of justifying enhancements through an equity lens. This added step forced departments to look at who is burdened by a decision and who is supported by that decision, and integrate considerations into the final decision making. 

Last updated: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

In an agreement with Duke Energy, the city installed a microgrid at Fire Station 43, which integrates solar and battery storage.

Last updated: September 2021

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

The City Council formally adopted a goal to increase the urban tree canopy to 50% by 2050.

UHI Policies and Programs

Charlotte has adopted a private tree protection ordinance.

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 6 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Charlotte enforces the state’s building energy codes. We could not find information on city-mandated benchmarking policies or above-code energy action requirements. The city offers two incentives for energy efficiency and on-site energy generation.

Last updated: June 2021

Building 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 2018 North Carolina Energy Conservation Code, which is less stringent than the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The City advocated for stronger energy codes in the public comments submitted to the Executive Order 80 Clean Energy Plan. Additionally, the City of Charlotte joined the IECC in 2020. 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 The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 57.6. 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. The city’s zEPI score for its residential energy code is 62.9. Charlotte has not yet begun advocating for increased stringency in residential building energy codes.

Solar-readiness policies

The city has limited authority to adopt solar-ready ordinances, but it does have an incentive for on-site renewable energy generation.

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies

The city is currently developing an EV-ready ordinance for new parking lot construction. It also has EV-readiness requirements for the employee and municipal fleet vehicle parking areas of newly constructed facilities.

Low-energy Use Requirements

Charlotte's Sustainable Facilities Policy requires all new construction/ major renovation of municipal buildings to be LEED or equivalent certified.

Last updated: August 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

The city does not staff 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 whether the city requires performance testing. The city provides upfront support by reviewing plans and having a help hotline that can answer questions about code compliance.

Last updated: June 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


The city’s Transit-Oriented Development plan (TOD) awards bonuses to projects that receive LEED Silver or equivalent standard, and/or have at least 25% of the development’s energy needs generated on-site.

Last updated: August 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The City of Charlotte, in partnership with the Urban League of Central Carolinas, has launched the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Workforce (“RENEW”) Training Program. RENEW provides paid training opportunities to Charlotte residents with barriers to employment for careers in the green economy.


Last updated: June 2021

Score: 10 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 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

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Charlotte has a Transportation Action Plan in place that outlines strategies for sustainable transportation and calls for VMT reduction targets in the future. The 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, adopted in March 2018, also includes reducing VMT as one of its goals to reduce transportation emissions but does not have a specific goal in place.

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

Charlotte has several zoning districts that are applied as appropriate throughout the city that enable walkable, mixed-use development. These districts take a variety of forms in different neighborhoods, from the Uptown Mixed-Use District used in Uptown Charlotte to the Pedestrian Overlay District, used in historic neighborhood centers. In addition to these legacy districts, the City of Charlotte requires transit-oriented development in transit station areas. In 2019, the city adopted a form-based Transit-Oriented Development zoning ordinance with four TOD districts. In the fall of 2019, the City proactively rezoned all of the property in Transit Station Areas to require TOD development that matches the new zoning districts. Currently, the City of Charlotte is in the process of updating the Zoning Ordinance to reflect this type of integrated approach citywide. The City of Charlotte also requires new street connections, street trees, and new sidewalks in all new development and most redevelopment as part of the zoning ordinance.

Residential Parking Policies

In certain zoning districts, the City of Charlotte has removed minimum parking requirements or added parking maximums for new developments as part of its zoning code. These apply to certain zoning districts. The City of Charlotte has multiple zoning designations which have various parking requirements. Generally, the urban districts have reduced parking requirements and some of the urban districts have parking maximums. But even the parking standards for the urban districts differ among the various urban zoning designations.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

The City of Charlotte’s Voluntary Mixed-Income Housing Development program was created in 2013 as a result of a Council approved action plan directing staff to pursue regulatory and financial incentives that would encourage Housing Diversity through private sector development of affordable housing units. This program seeks to encourage mixed-income housing developments in targeted locations through a voluntary incentive-based density bonus.

Last Updated: October 2021

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

At this time, the City does not have a codified mode share target for trips within the city.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

No progress has been achieved, as there are no targets in place.

Complete Streets

In 2007, Charlotte City Council adopted the Urban Street Design Guidelines to support Complete Streets. Charlotte’s Urban Street Design Guidelines (USDG) serve as the implementation tool for planning and designing a network of Complete Streets in Charlotte.

Last Updated: October 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Charlotte have received $172,986,097.40 on average annually between 2015 and 2019. That equates to roughly $135.02 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 Charlotte’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 5, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: October 2021

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

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

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

There are no incentives available for the construction of EV charging infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 276 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 31.2 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

Akron does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

The City of Charlotte has a goal to source all fleet from zero-carbon sources by 2030, including transit. Charlotte is currently in negotiations to transition its entire bus fleet to battery electric buses.

Last Updated: October 2021

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Charlotte 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

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.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

The City of Charlotte’s Housing Authority provides bus passes to low-income individuals for work-related trips through its “Moving Aside the Obstacles to Work” program. Additionally, half fares are charged for all transit passes for individuals with Medicare Cards. The Charlotte Area Transit System completed a pilot program with Lyft, the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the US, and Passport, the developer of the CATSPass app. The partnership provides greater connectivity to jobs and education by providing affordable and reliable transportation with Lyft on the first and last mile of a person’s commute in areas where transit service may be too far away. The pilot program will be offered at two LYNX stations and the area surrounding the stations. For passengers needing a Lyft ride to or from the JW Clay/UNC Charlotte station or the Parkwood Station, CATS will provide a $4.00 contribution toward the Lyft fare. A trip must originate or terminate at either of those two station locations and end or start in the specified area around each station. These areas were selected to fill gaps in the existing transit network in order to provide better access to the region’s extended rail system. 

Last Updated: October 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 7 out of 15 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: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, according to EIA, Duke Energy Carolinas achieved 779,302 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.33% of its retail sales across the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not only Charlotte. In 2019, Duke Energy Carolinas spent $89,396,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 1.84% of its retail revenue.

In 2019, Piedmont Natural Gas either did not spend or did not report spending or savings on natural gas efficiency programs. These savings and spending figures cover the entire jurisdiction of both utilities, not just the City of Charlotte.

Duke offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

The City of Charlotte and Duke Energy have a formal MOU that aims to achieve the shared goals through low carbon energy, customer choice programs, and collaboration. 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. The City and Duke Energy are also working together on an energy-saver program in the North End Smart District. 

Last Updated: August 2021

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Duke Energy Carolinas offers the Neighborhood Energy Saver Program (NES) to qualified low-income residential customers. This weatherization assistance program provides many direct-install measures such as lightbulbs, aerators, showerheads, weather stripping, door sweeps, caulk and insulation, and water heater adjustments. The NES program reaches out to local government (mayors, city council, community leaders) for involvement in the kickoff event and to provide support for the program.

Duke Energy Carolinas also offers the Residential Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Assistance for Individuals Program to qualified low-income residential customers. This weatherization assistance program provides, on the basis of need, measures provided under the NES Program, additional insulation, air sealing, refrigerator replacement, and electric HVAC system replacement. Both programs are administered in coordination with local agencies that administer state weatherization programs and other agencies selected by Duke Energy.

In 2019, according to Duke Energy Carolinas, it achieved 6,419 MWh in energy savings, while spending $5,367,996 on its low-income programs and serving 7,583 low-income customers.

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. In 2019, according to Duke Energy Carolinas, it achieved 15,597 MWh in savings, while spending $2,960,649 and providing 414,895 measures.

Piedmont Natural Gas does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties at this time.

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Neither Duke Energy Carolinas nor Piedmont Natural Gas provides building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. Charlotte receives community-wide energy usage information from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas for the city’s annual greenhouse gas inventory.

The City of Charlotte has advocated for better access to utility data by submitting public comments for the NC Executive Order 80 Clean Energy Plan. The City provided comments related to better data access in Sections C-1 and K-2 of the Clean Energy Plan. Charlotte also entered an MOU with Duke Energy that encourages transparency and data sharing between the city and utility.

Last Updated: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In September 2019, Duke Energy set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030 from 2005 levels, with a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. To achieve a 50% reduction by 2030, Duke Energy will need to reduce emissions by 2.5% annually from 2019 levels.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

On January 16, 2019, the City of Charlotte and Duke Energy Carolinas signed a "Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Charlotte and Duke Energy Carolinas to Establish a Low Carbon, Smart City Collaboration," a non-binding agreement of cooperation and collaboration. The Memorandum outlines various overarching values, goals, and shared principles to foster a low carbon, smart city collaboration and provides a strategy for cooperation and achievement of a shared vision through broad collaboration, focusing on innovation, low carbon energy, economic development opportunities, customer choice programs, and technology. 

In addition, the City of Charlotte has been involved in Public Utility Commission proceedings regarding renewable energy developments. The Charlotte City Council passed the City's participation in Duke Energy's Green Source Advantage program, which will provide a utility-scale 35 MW solar energy system to help the city get 25% closer to its zero carbon buildings by 2030 goal. Based on the success of Charlotte's Green Source Advantage project, the City is partnering with Duke Energy to educate other North Carolina municipalities on how to replicate Charlotte's process to pursue their own utility-scale renewable energy efforts.

The City is also preparing comments on Duke Energy's 2020 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and plans to participate in stakeholder meetings leading up to the September 2020 IRP filing. The City is particularly interested in expanding utility-scale renewable generation due to limited opportunities to source zero-carbon energy in the state. 

Last Updated: July 2021

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

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, as well as long-term basin-wide strategies to ensure sustainable and efficient water supplies for decades.

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation

CLTWater uses a multipronged approach to saving energy including evaluating energy consumption and upgrading lighting and other systems. Charlotte Water enacted Strategic Energy Action Plan (SEAP) that includes both short and long-term strategies to reduce energy use and climate impact.

The City of Charlotte operates a Combined Heat and Power facility at the McAlpine Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Last Updated: August 2021

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

Climate Mitigation Goal

Charlotte does not have a GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal operations. 

Energy Reduction Goal

We were unable to find information on an energy reduction goal.

Renewable Energy Goal

Charlotte aims to use 100% zero-carbon energy for its municipal buildings and fleet by 2030. 

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

In 2020, the City of Charlotte passed a Sustainable and Resilient Fleet policy and an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) policy. The Sustainable and Resilient Fleet policy directs departments to procure the lowest emitting vehicle that meets operational needs. The AVL policy requires all rolling stock to be upfitted with an AVL device to collect data that will be then used to make smart, data-driven decisions about vehicles that could be replaced with EVs, where EV infrastructure would need to be installed to support EVs, fleet right-sizing, idle-reduction, and driver behavior. Additionally, the city aims to replace 100% of light-duty municipal vehicles with electric vehicles by 2030. Charlotte's municipal fleet is currently composed of 2% efficient vehicles, including hybrid and battery electric vehicles. 

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 streetlight project in Uptown Charlotte and uses LEDs for all new installations. The city estimates that about 18% of streetlights have been converted to LED. All streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate from dawn to dusk.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems

Charlotte's installed on-site renewable generation includes 931kW of solar PV, nine geothermal heat pump HVAC systems, and a solar thermal system.

Inclusive procurement 

The Charlotte Business Inclusion (CBI) Program seeks to enhance competition and participation of small, minority and women-owned firms in city contracting and to promote economic growth and development. This program includes the annual determination of citywide minority and women-owned business enterprise utilization goals. This program was applied to a recent utility-scale solar project.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

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. All City-owned and City-managed buildings greater than 5,000 square feet are required to benchmark their energy use intensity.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategies

The City of Charlotte does take a strategic approach to managing energy use in municipal facilities with a focus on making continual energy efficiency improvements., Charlotte passed an updated Sustainable Facilities Policy, which focuses on energy efficiency retrofits and prioritizing benchmarking. The revised Sustainable Facilities Policy (SFP) is intended to direct City departments to design, construct, and operate City buildings in a manner aligned with stated 2030 Strategic Energy Action Plan goals. On an annual cycle, the City will utilize benchmarking outcomes to identify the least energy-efficient facilities and the facilities with the largest potential for carbon reduction and take data-driven steps to address energy inefficiencies. A Focus on Efficiency report will be prepared each fiscal year that highlights the bottom quartile of buildings based on energy performance. Then each building in the bottom quartile will be reviewed and assigned to one of three action categories: (1) Retro-Commissioning, which requires a budget request for retro-commissioning to be performed the following fiscal year, (2) Capital Project Integration, or (3) Deferred Action.

Last updated: June 2021