State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Cincinnati, OH

29.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 4 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

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

Last updated: September 2021

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. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects that the city will achieve 75% of the per-capita emissions reductions required to achieve its near-term 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.

Last updated: September 2021

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

As part of the 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan community engagement 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.

Equity Accountability Measures

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

Last updated: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

The city has not 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

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.

UHI Policies and Programs

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: September 2021

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: August 2021

Building Energy CodesList 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 2018 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 54. 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 policy mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV- ready. The city has passed a policy requiring garages that receive city incentives to include charging at 1% of their spaces, and be equipped with electric capacity at 5% of the spaces. 

Last updated: August 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Cincinnati does not staff any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city requires plan review and site inspections to verify energy code compliance. We were unable to determine if the city requires performance testing. The city offers consultations prior to permit issuance through its Business Development and Permit Center.

Last updated: August 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


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.

The city partnered with Duke Energy Ohio to offer a pilot program, WarmUp Cincy, that provides energy efficiency services and educational opportunities to dozens of income-eligible renters in the city.

Voluntary programs

The city runs the Cincinnati 2030 District, a voluntary benchmarking program for commercial buildings. 

Last updated: August 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Cincinnati does not have programs committed to developing a dedicated energy efficiency or renewable energy workforce.

Last updated: October2021

Score: 7 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: October 2021

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: 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

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

Last Updated: October 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve Cincinnati have received $99,653,172.60 in average annual funding from 2015-2019. That equates to roughly $133.78 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 Cincinnati’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 6.8, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: October 2021

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 has 117 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 38.5 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

Cincinnati does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

Cincinnati does not have an EV transit bus goal.

Last Updated: October 2021

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: October 2021

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.

Last Updated: October 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 6 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. Under the state’s EERS, Ohio’s investor-owned utilities were required to implement energy efficiency plans and file annual reports to the commission. However, HB 6 (2019) terminated the state’s EERS, cutting energy efficiency and renewable energy standards and eliminating the electric energy efficiency programs for residents and businesses. These programs were phased out by the end of 2020. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Ohio page of the State Database

The City of Cincinnati also has an electric and natural gas aggregation program that allows residents to receive 100% green electricity. Cincinnati is the first U.S. aggregation program to offer 100% carbon-free energy for both natural gas and electricity, with all electric aggregation program participants receiving 100% green energy. Since 2017, Cincinnati became the first aggregation program in the country to provide green natural gas from renewable sources, including this as an ""opt-in"" program. 

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: August 2021  

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, Duke Energy Ohio reported 270,684 MWh in net electric incremental savings, representing 1.34% of electric retail sales. In 2019, Duke Energy Ohio spent $25,091,000 on electric energy efficiency programs, which represents 2.53% of its electric retail revenue. Duke Energy Ohio did not implement any natural gas efficiency programs in 2019. These figures represent the entire Ohio service territory, not just Cincinnati. Duke Energy Ohio offers electric efficiency incentives to residential and commercial customers. 

While no formal partnership exists, the City of Cincinnati is working with Duke to offer a bill repayment and energy efficiency program for low-income residents.  This is a 6-year program developed as part of a rate case settlement. 

Last Updated: July 2021 

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs 

As of December 31, 2020, Duke Energy Ohio's low-income programs were discontinued per Ohio House Bill 6. Prior to this, Duke Energy Ohio offered a portfolio of low-income programs to qualified low-income customers, including the Low-Income Services, Pay for Performance and the Neighborhood Energy Saver programs to qualified low-income customers. The Low-Income Services program replaced inefficient refrigerators in qualifying single-family and multifamily customers.  The Pay for Performance program was offered through a partnership with People Working Cooperatively (PWC) and provides low-income customers with whole-house weatherization services such as, air sealing, insulation, and faucet aerators. The Neighborhood Energy Saver offered customers with direct installation of energy-efficiency measures to renters and owners of single-family and multifamily properties. Through this program eligible customers received energy efficiency services such as sealing air leaking, LED lighting, water heater wraps, and tune-ups and repairs to heating and cooling systems. The Neighborhood Energy Saver program was offered through a partnership with People Working Cooperatively (PWC) and specifically targets elderly customers. 

Duke Energy Ohio offered the Low-Income Services, Pay for Performance and the Neighborhood Energy Saver program to qualified low-income customers. Customers received 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 program was offered through a partnership with People Working Cooperatively (PWC) and specifically targets elderly customers. 

In 2019, according to Duke Energy Ohio, it achieved 1,296 MWh in energy savings, while spending $788,695 on its low-income programs and served 10,709 customers. These programs are electric only, with no gas savings, customers or spending reported. 

In 2020, the City of Cincinnati, in partnership with Duke Energy Ohio, launched a low-income multifamily energy efficiency program, called Warm Up Cincy, which improves building efficiency and provide tenants with energy efficiency education that will stay with them for life. The six-year program has served over 100 households at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and addresses the gap in energy efficiency offerings for low-income renters. The program is funded through a rate case settlement with Duke Energy Ohio, Cincinnati’s utility company. The program operates in partnership with the Community Action Agency, Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, and People Working Cooperatively to reach and engage participants. 

Multifamily Programs 

Duke Energy Ohio’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program provides apartment complexes with free and installed lighting and water measures. Eligible units are Duke Energy Ohio served apartments on a residential rate. Traditionally, the properties targeted have four or more units. Franklin Energy is the program administrator and manages outreach, direct installations, and customer care. 

In 2018, according to Duke Energy Ohio, it achieved 1,904 MWh in energy savings, while spending $339,581 on its multifamily programs and served 18,339 housing units. 

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Duke Energy Ohio does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings.  

Duke Energy Ohio provides energy usage data to the city who uses the data in their planning processes, yet this data is not made available to the public.  The City of Cincinnati 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 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 

In 2011, voters approved a ballot initiative to launch Community Choice Aggregation in the City of Cincinnati. In 2016, Cincinnati residents saved $1.5 million on electricity and $2 million on gas costs through the Cincinnati’s Aggregation Program. The electric aggregation program provides 100% green energy by purchasing renewable energy credits to offset consumption. In 2017, the City added an opt-in option for green natural gas option.  

The city of Cincinnati engages with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on relevant energy rate cases that involve renewable energy developments. The City was active in the opposition to House Bill 6 which provided bailouts to coal-fired and nuclear facilities in the state of Ohio. The City also signed a 35 MW Power Purchase Agreement to serve the City government, and an additional 65 MW is under negotiation to serve the residents and small businesses through the Community Choice Aggregation Program. 

Last Updated: July 2021  

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals 

The energy utilities do not provide water efficiency as part of their energy efficiency program offerings. 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. Greater Cincinnati Waterworks recently refurbished their 175 KW hydro turbines. In addition, they have two solar arrays installed on their facilities. 

Last Updated: July 2021  

Local Government Score:
3 out of 10 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

The Green Cincinnati Plan includes a goal to reduce energy use by 2% annually, including specific local government actions to achieve this goal. 

Renewable Energy Goal

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

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Cincinnati committed to 100% clean and renewable fleet by 2035. Cincinnati's fleet is currently composed of 2.6% efficient vehicles, including hybrid and battery electric. 

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.  

Onsite and offsite renewable systems

Cincinnati has installed solar capacity on several city facilities, with a capacity of 25 MW.

Inclusive procurement

While we were unable to confirm that the policy had been applied to recent energy projects, the city’s municipal contracts include a Minority Owned Business Enterprise and Woman Owned Business Enterprise inclusion requirement corresponding to the scope of work.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

The City of Cincinnati has entered all of its government owned buildings in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Energy use is updated and monitored monthly. 

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

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.  In 2021, the City will embark on a $19M  energy efficiency project that will include the installation of an additional2 MW of onsite solar,  34,000 LED lighting fixtures, conversion of 155 HVAC units away from R22 refrigerant.

Last updated: June 2021