State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Cincinnati, OH

33.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
2 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The Green Cincinnati Plan establishes both municipal and community-wide goals for the City of Cincinnati.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

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

Renewable Energy Goal

The Green Cincinnati Plan set a goal to use 100% renewable energy for city government operations by 2035.

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Cincinnati does not have specific fuel efficiency requirements for the city fleet, but all city employees must take an Ecodriving Course designed to teach vehicles operators how to operate and maintain vehicles in a manner that improves vehicle fuel efficiency. As part of the Green Cincinnati Plan, the city is reviewing its entire fleet to determine if a vehicle is being used for the appropriate function and if it should continue to be used for that function, replaced, or is no longer needed. We were unable to find data regarding fleet composition.

Public Lighting

Cincinnati has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. Streetlights are scheduled for operation only when needed. The City has upgraded all city-owned and operated streetlights to LED technology through performance contracts.  

Green Building Requirements 

The Green Guidelines for the School Facility Master Plan require schools meet LEED standards, but we could not find energy efficiency requirements for other municipal buildings. Cincinnati’s procurement policy does not contain energy efficiency requirements. 

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

The City of Cincinnati has entered half of its government owned buildings in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The buildings represent 50-60 percent of the city’s total square footage. Additionally, the City of Cincinnati has completed over $22 million in efficiency improvements through performance contracting and retro commissioning. The improvements have impacted over 50 percent of public buildings.

Public Workforce Commuting

We could not confirm if Cincinnati has policies to reduce the commutes of city workers, such as flex schedules and teleworking policies.

Last updated: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 8.5 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Cincinnati recently adopted the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan.  

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan established a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 84% below 2006 levels by 2050, with an interim goal of 40% below 2006 levels by 2028. ACEEE does not project the city will achieve its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

Cincinnati conducted a greenhouse gas emissions inventory in 2015.

Energy Reduction Goal

The 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan established a goal to reduce energy consumption 2% annually.

Renewable Energy Goal

The city committed to using 100% renewable energy by 2035.

The city has an interim goal to triple renewable energy assets for residents and businesses within 5 years, per the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan.

Energy Data Reporting

Community-wide energy emissions data is included in the 2015 greenhouse gas inventory.

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

As part of the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan community outreach process, the city held development meetings in Spanish and in communities of color, as stated in the 2018 Green Action Plan.

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 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan established a goal to reduce the household energy burden by 10% within 5 years.

Last updated: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

The City of Cincinnati currently has 1.8 MW of solar installed on city-owned buildings. The city is also in the process of procuring 25 MW of solar to serve municipal load.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan set a goal to increase the urban tree canopy to 40% coverage and to ensure all residential neighborhoods have at least 30% coverage.

A joint program by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Office of Environmental Quality provides green roof loans. Title XIV of the city's zoning code allows cluster house zoning in all districts. 

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 9 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Cincinnati enforces the state’s building and energy codes. The city runs a voluntary benchmarking program in the Cincinnati 2030 District. The city offers several incentives for both energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Ohio has set mandatory building energy codes statewide. The Ohio Board of Building Standards adopted the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1-2010 with amendments for commercial buildings. Ohio based its energy code for residential buildings on the 2009 IECC. To learn more about Ohio’s building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial buildings in Cincinnati comply with the state mandated codes. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 59.0. The city actively monitors state level discussions concerning building codes, advocates for improvements and participates in the 2018 IECC voting process.


Residential buildings in Cincinnati comply with the state mandated codes. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 68.6. The city actively monitors state level discussions concerning building codes, advocates for improvements and participates in the 2018 IECC voting process.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not adopted a formal policy mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV- ready.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Cincinnati does not staff any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city has not made plan reviews, site inspections, nor performance testing mandatory to verify energy code compliance. The city offers consultations prior to permit issuance through its Business Development and Permit Center.

Last updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Cincinnati does not have a mandatory benchmarking, rating, and disclosure policy for commercial and/or multifamily properties. The city runs the Cincinnati 2030 District, a voluntary benchmarking program for commercial buildings. 


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

Cincinnati offers seven incentives for energy efficiency and solar energy projects.

Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance offer residents and business a range of incentives and financing options for home energy efficient improvements and renewable energy upgrades.

Cincinnati also offers the Community Reinvestment Area (RCA) Residential Tax Abatement to city residents, which allows building owners to pay taxes on the pre-improvement value of their property after making efficiency improvements.

The city also offers the CRA Commercial Tax Abatement Program to companies and developers for new construction and renovation of LEED buildings and non-LEED buildings pending a financial gap analysis. 

The city also allows commercial property owners to apply for property assessed clean energy financing for energy efficiency projects.

Please note that each incentive/program is tallied based on the building types and energy resources eligible for award. For example, a PACE financing program that offers energy efficiency and renewable energy financing to both residential and commercial property owners is counted as four incentives.

Last updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

Cincinnati 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

All municipal contracts include a minority and women business enterprise inclusion requirement corresponding to the scope of work that includes energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Last updated: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 4 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Duke Energy Ohio, an investor-owned utility (IOU) and subsidiary to Duke Energy, is the primary electric utility and natural gas utility serving Cincinnati. The State of Ohio requires spending and savings targets for its IOU through an EERS (SB221). The utilities must propose energy efficiency plans and file annual reports to the commission. However, in 2014, S.B. 310 placed a two-year freeze on energy efficiency requirements and allowed utilities that had achieved 4.2% cumulative savings to reduce or eliminate offerings. Efforts to extend this freeze under HB 554 were vetoed by the governor in December 2016, and savings targets resumed in 2017. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Ohio page of the State Database.

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works provides drinking water services to the City of Cincinnati. The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) provides wastewater treatment services to Cincinnati.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, according to Duke Energy Ohio’s demand side management report, they achieved 265,284 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 1.34% of retail sales. Duke Energy Ohio did not implement any natural gas efficiency programs in 2017. These figures represent the entire Ohio service territory, not just Cincinnati. Duke Energy Ohio offers electric efficiency incentives to residential and commercial customers.

At this time, the City of Cincinnati does not partner with Duke Energy Ohio to promote participation in their energy efficiency programs.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Duke Energy Ohio offers the Low Income Services, Pay for Performance, and the Neighborhood Energy Saver program to qualified low-income customers. Customers may receive energy efficiency products and services such as compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, water heater wraps, HVAC cleaning, HVAC filters, and energy efficiency education. The Pay for Performance program is offered through a partnership with People Working Cooperatively (PWC) and provides low-income customers with whole-house weatherization services. The Neighborhood Energy Saver program partners with local government and community publications to alert customers of the work that will be done and that might be available to them.

In 2017, according to Duke Energy Ohio, it achieved 2,569 MWh in energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 1,120 customers. These programs are electric only, with no gas savings or spending reported.

Multifamily Programs

Duke Energy Ohio’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program provides apartment complexes with free and installed lighting and water measures. Franklin Energy administers the program, targeting buildings with four or more units. The program includes direct install measures such as LED bulbs and water-saving measures. In 2017, the program saved 143 MWh of energy and served 1 building.   

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Duke Energy Ohio encourages the use of benchmarking to increase energy savings, but they do not provide building managers or owners with automatic whole-building benchmarking data for input into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. At this time, the City of Cincinnati does not advocate to the state for improvements in data provision by its utilities.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

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

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The city of Cincinnati engages with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on relevant energy rate cases that involve renewable energy developments.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works has not yet established a water efficiency goal and does not have funded programs to help customers save water. The energy utilities do not provide water efficiency as part of their energy efficiency program offerings.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

MSD is working to reduce energy consumption by auditing and improving light fixtures and the heating and cooling systems at wastewater treatment plants. MSD also self generates energy at wastewater treatment plants by using dewatered sludge to fire two incinerators.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 9.5 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving Cincinnati is the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA). SORTA provides the public transportation for the city and broader metropolitan area, including bus services. The Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky MPO is in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Cincinnati and surrounding jurisdictions, including communities in Northern Kentucky. Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation and Engineering is charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan does include actions to reduce VMTs. However, it does not include a specific goal.

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

Cincinnati adopted the Cincinnati Form-Based Code in May 2013. Four neighborhoods — College Hill, Madisonville, Walnut Hills and Westwood — will be the first communities to implement this code to support the revitalization of their neighborhood business districts.

Residential Parking Policies

Residential developments with 20 or fewer housing units do not have to provide parking and developments with more than 20 units must provide 0.75 spaces per each housing unit over the 20th unit. In 2018, the Cincinnati City Council voted to eliminate mandatory parking requirements in three dense downtown neighborhoods.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

There are no incentives available through the City to promote location efficiency.

Last Updated: March 2019

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

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

Car Sharing

ZipCar is currently available to the residents and visitors of Cincinnati. Cincinnati has 12 Zip cars operating within the City, some of which have dedicated on-street parking.

Bike Sharing

Cincinnati implemented Red Bike in 2014 and currently has 442 bikes and 57 locations.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The SORTA transit system that serves Cincinnati received $42,583,002.80 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $19.74 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the lowest category ($0-19) available in transit funding.

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 Cincinnati’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 6.8, putting it in the third highest category (5-6.99) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

The City of Cincinnati offers free parking to EV vehicles. Currently close to 400 vehicles are enrolled in the program.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

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

EV Charging Locations

The City owns 44 charging stations available for public use.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Cincinnati 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: March 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Cincinnati 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

Cincinnati 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

Cincinnati 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 Cincinnati, 59% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: April 2019