State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Charlottesville, VA

Scored out of 250Updated 05/2024
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 5 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Charlottesville’s 2012 Emissions Report Update identified goals to prevent increases in community-wide greenhouse gas emissions in the near-term and reduce community-wide emissions 10% under 2000 levels by 2035.  The goal was formally codified when the Emissions Report Update was adopted into the 2013 Comprehensive Plan by reference.  We did not collect information on the extent of stakeholder involvement in the development of goals.

Last updated: October 2015

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

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: March 2020

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

There is one district energy system in Charlottesville, but we could not locate information on the system’s capacity.  Charlottesville does not have combined heat and power facilities. 

Last updated: October 2015

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

Charlottesville developed an Urban Forest Management Plan to ensure city trees are appropriately managed and earned a “Tree City USA” designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation for its efforts. The city has adopted an incentive to encourage the installation of green roofs on commercial and residential properties. 

Last updated: October 2015

Buildings Policies
Score: 13 out of 29 points
Building Energy CodesList All

The State of Virginia requires its local jurisdictions to follow the 2012 Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) for residential and commercial construction. As of July 14, 2014, the USBC was updated to reference the 2012 IECC and 2012 IRC. Residential buildings must comply with the 2012 IRC, while commercial buildings must meet 2012 IECC standards with reference to ASHRAE 90.1-2010. To learn more, please see the Virginia page of the State Policy Database.  


Commercial construction in Charlottesville complies with the Virginia USBC.  Charlottesville submitted public comments in support of commercial building energy codes upgrades during the code change rulemaking-process.


Residential construction in Charlottesville complies with the Virginia USBC. Charlottesville submitted public comments in support of residential building energy codes upgrades during the code change rulemaking-process.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Charlottesville reported a budget of approximately $700,000 for code enforcement in 2012. This level of spending normalizes to $10.78 per $1,000 of residential construction spending for the city.  Charlottesville 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.  Charlottesville provides upfront support to building owners and developers for code compliance.  City staff review building permits with an eye toward energy code compliance. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Charlottesville may not have mandatory or voluntary programs to encourage building benchmarking in any sector, under state law. Energy efficiency measures are included in the MLS serving the Charlottesville area.

Last Updated: October 2015

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Building Energy Savings Goals

Charlottesville has not yet published an energy-intensity reduction target for its private buildings.

Green Building Requirements

Charlottesville has green building requirements for municipal buildings, but privately-funded commercial and residential buildings are not subject to green building requirements.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

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

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Charlottesville has several incentives for efficient buildings.  Commercial and residential buildings that meet energy efficiency standards are eligible for a reduced tax rate of 50% on the building value for one year.  Businesses in Charlottesville can receive funding from the Clean Energy Commercial Loan Program to invest in energy efficiency improvements.  Through LEAP, Charlottesville also funds the limited time 0% Power Saving Loan Program to buy down Power Savings Loans to a 0% interest rate over a five year term.

Last Updated: October 2015

Score: 14.5 out of 28 points
Location Efficiency List All

Charlottesville’s zoning code established mixed-use corridor districts (City Code Chp 34, Art. VI) to encourage location-efficient developments. There are areas around the city that are zoned as Planned Unit Development (allowing for more compact development in neighborhoods), mixed-use zones, and medium and high density areas around the University of Virginia. Parking requirements have been removed in at least three neighborhoods (the Corner, Urban Core, and West Main).  Charlottesville implemented a complete streets policy in 2010. As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, Charlottesville provides density bonuses and expedited permitting to developers.

Last updated: October 2015

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

Charlottesville has not yet identified a specific VMT or mode share target, but work is being done on a variety of front to reduce VMTs including through improvements in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, public bicycle education classes (for riding around town), and efforts to increase transit ridership. The Transportation Chapter of the city’s Comprehensive Plan 2013 details these actions.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There is one car sharing program currently available to the residents and visitors of Charlottesville, zipcar. In 2015, Charlottesville adopted a Bicycle Pedestrian plan update which sets in place goals to establish and achieve mode targets. 

Transportation Demand Management Programs

Working with other organizations, Charlottesville supports Rideshare options in the community. Also, the municipal government offers telecommuting and flexible work schedules to employees with department discretion and also provides free public transit access to employees.

Last updated: October 2015

Public Transit List All

CAT and Jaunt, which both serve Charlottesville, received $17,348,437 in total funding in 2012. This funding level is $74.31 per resident in the service territory of the agency. In comparison, 2010 spending on roads and parking by the city was $ 4,706,571 or $108.26 per city resident. This results in a ratio of per capita regional transit funding to per capita city highway and parking funding of 0.69 to 1.

The Transit Connectivity Index measures how many transit rides are available per week within walking distance from the average household. Charlottesville’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 11,223, putting it in a high mid-range category (10,000 - 20,000) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: October 2015

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, Charlottesville does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. Charlottesville administers a mini-grant fund to spur the development of a publicly-accessible EV charging network. Municipal staff from Richmond engage with the Virginia Clean Cities Coalition, which works to reduce petroleum use in transportation. Most recently, the city’s EV charging network mini-grant initiative involved Virginia Clean Cities.

Last updated: October 2015

Freight System EfficiencyList All

There are no intermodal freight facilities within Charlottesville’s boundaries.

Last updated: October 2015

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 7.5 out of 18 points
Community Energy Infrastructure Summary List All

Virginia Electric Power & Light (VEP&L), an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) and subsidiary to Dominion Power, is the primary electric utility serving Charlottesville.  Charlottesville Gas, a Municipally-Owned Utility (muni), is Charlottesville’s primary natural gas supplier. The State of Virginia has set a legislative goal of reducing electricity consumption by 10% from a 2006 baseline by 2022. The utilities must submit integrated resource plans to the State Corporation Commission laying out demand-side resources. Energy efficiency programs have been approved in past years. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Virginia page of the State Database.

The Charlottesville Department of Public Utilities is the municipal utility which provides drinking water and stormwater management services to the City of Charlottesville.  The Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority is a regional wastewater utility that serves Charlottesville.

Last Updated: October 2015

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

According to EIA, in 2013, VEP&L spent $14,021,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 0.22% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, VEP&L reported a net incremental electricity savings of 20,266MWh, representing 0.27% of its retail sales.   In the same year, Charlottesville Gas reported spending $604,060 on gas efficiency programs.  The expenditures normalize to $309.01 per residential customer. Spending on electricity represented in this section covers the entire Virginia service territory, not just Charlottesville. VEP&L offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers. 

Charlottesville has a funded partnership with the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) for program services. One of the services offered by LEAP is the Home Energy Check Up, one of the local electric utility's demand response management programs.  The city is a member of groups such as Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) and has communication channels with the electric utility via their partnership with LEAP.  The city supports additional energy efficiency spending through these partnerships, but the city has not yet begun advocating to the state for increased spending and savings requirements for the electric utility.

Last Updated: October 2015

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, VEP&L makes data from the previous month's usage available online in a downloadable format.  VEP&L currently does not provide Charlottesville’s building owners and managers with automatic benchmark data for inputting into Portfolio Manager.  Community-wide energy data is provided by the electric utility for energy planning at the sector level.  Charlottesville does not advocate to the state for policy improvements in home energy data provision by the electric utility, but the city has an informal agreement for the utility to provide aggregated monthly energy data for a four year period due to the city’s anticipated participation in the Georgetown University Energy Prize.

Last Updated: October 2015

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

Charlottesville funds several rebates for water efficiency, including a rain barrel rebate and WaterSense toilet rebate.  The city has not adopted a formal water savings target, but reductions have been incorporated into routine practices by retrofitting municipal buildings with high-efficiency fixtures and installing rainwater harvesting systems at municipal facilities. 

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

Charlottesville does not have a specific energy efficiency target for its operations of its public utilities, but the regional wastewater utility has pursued initiatives to save energy at its Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The wastewater treatment plant also uses biogas captured from the treatment process to generate electricity onsite. 

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Charlottesville adopted a stormwater utility fee and credit program to encourage the incorporation of green infrastructure onto private properties to manage stormwater.  The fee will also increase capital funding for green stormwater infrastructure. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Local Government Score:
9 out of 15 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Charlottesville’s 2012 Emissions Report Update identified a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from local government operations by 1% annually.  The goal was formally codified when the Emissions Report Update was adopted into the 2013 Comprehensive Plan by reference.  Charlottesville also has an energy reduction goal for local government operations, but we could not confirm the details of the goal.  We did not collect information on the extent to which formal agency stakeholder groups were involved in setting the goal. 

Last updated: October 2015

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

While the fleet manager reviews vehicle purchase requests for vehicle fuel efficiency, we could not confirm if Charlottesville had enacted formal efficiency requirements for the city fleet.  In 2007, the city enacted an anti-idling policy for the municipal vehicle fleet.  Charlottesville has installed electric vehicle charging stations, but they are only for government vehicles.  

Public Lighting

An energy efficiency standard for public lighting is not in place, but Charlottesville has begun an outdoor lighting replacement program for publicly-owned lighting.  The city converted the majority of its traffic signals and streetlights to LEDs and is committed to continuing to do so going forward.  All streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate from dawn to dusk.

New Buildings and Equipment

In September 2008, the Charlottesville City Council adopted a resolution requiring city construction projects to meet LEED standards, but we could not confirm if the requirement includes any additional specific standards for energy efficiency.  We also could not confirm if the city has energy efficiency provisions in its procurement policy.  

Last updated: October 2015

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Charlottesville tracks the energy use of all municipal facilities and imports it into Portfolio Manager.  A Comprehensive retrofit strategy is part of Charlottesville’s ongoing energy management program.  In 2008, the city entered into an energy performance contract for its municipal buildings.  By November 2012, seven schools and several local government buildings had achieved Energy Star certification. 

Public Employees

Charlottesville allows city employees to telecommute and although there is not a city-wide policy, some departments permit employees to have flex schedules.  

Last updated: October 2015