State and Local Policy Database

Columbus

City Scorecard Rank

25

Columbus, OH

41.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
4 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Columbus’s Sustainable Columbus initiative is the primary driver behind the city’s climate and energy actions in municipal operations.

Climate Mitigation Goal

Columbus adopted a goal to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. ACEEE does not project the city will meet its GHG emissions reduction goal for local government operations because no data was available to make a projection. 

Energy Reduction Goal

Columbus as a goal to reduce local government energy use 20% by 2020.

Renewable Energy Goal

Green Memo III includes a goal to purchase renewable energy credits to account for 100% of municipal energy use by 2020.

Last updated: June 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Columbus has an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing policy that Fleet Management references for all purchases. Fleet Management ensures that energy efficient vehicles and equipment is purchased when available. The City has adopted its Green Fleet Action Plan and provides annual progress reports. The plan includes targets to reduce overall fuel use of the city fleet by 2% by 2014, reduce petroleum use by 5% by 2014, and purchase at least 50% "green" light-duty vehicles. It also integrates right-sizing of the fleet and promotion of the anti-idling policy. The plan tracks the City’s reduction in petroleum use. Since 2010, there has been a 27% decrease in use of petroleum.

Columbus’ fleet is composed of 5.0% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles.

Public Lighting

Columbus has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. However, the City is in the process of implementing streetlight design guidelines. The City has also purchased LED streetlights luminaires that will be used to convert 40 smaller streetlight circuits in 2019. 

Green Building Requirements

The City of Columbus has a policy to meet or exceed LEED certification standards for all new City-owned facilities. 

Last updated: June 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Columbus benchmarks 98% of municipal buildings through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The City does not have a retrofit policy in place, but is exploring options to reduce energy consumption systematically. For 2020, projects are being developed to comprehensively retro-commission 6 city-owned buildings, totaling over 729,000 square feet.

Public Workforce Commuting

We did not find information on a policy aimed at reducing commutes of city employees, such as flexible schedules or telework.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 7 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Columbus formally adopted The Columbus Green Community Plan and most recently updated the plan with the Green Memo III.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Green Memo III includes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2013 levels by 2020. ACEEE does not project the city will meet its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

Greenhouse gas emissions data is included in the Green Memo III. The city also reports annual inventories to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Energy Reduction Goal

The Green Memo III establishes a goal to reduce energy use 20% below 2013 levels by 2020.

Renewable Energy Goal

The Green Memo III established a goal to use 10% renewable energy by 2020. 

Energy Data Reporting

The city’s reports community-wide energy data to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equitable Community Outreach

The city did not increase its outreach to marginalized groups relative to other city constituencies in the planning and implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Equitable Decision-Making

The city has not created a formal role for local organizations representing low-income or communities of color to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan. 

Accountability to Equity

The city has not established goals or published methods for tracking how energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are reversing any ongoing actions that disadvantage marginalized residents. 

Last updated: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

We could not verify if the city has adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Green Memo III established an urban heat island mitigation goal to plant 300,000 trees by 2020 and increase the city’s urban tree canopy from 22% to 27%.

The city also offers stormwater service fee credits for private properties that install green infrastructure.

Last updated: June 2019

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

The City of Columbus enforces that state’s energy code. The city has established a comprehensive code compliance verification process. Columbus has not adopted a mandatory benchmarking policy, but currently runs a voluntary benchmarking program. The city offers PACE financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All

Overview

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's energy code for residential buildings is based on the 2009 IECC. To learn more about Ohio’s building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.

Commercial

Commercial buildings in Columbus comply with the state mandated codes. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 59.0. The City of Columbus testifies at state board meetings for increased stringency in the commercial building energy codes and participates in the 2018 IECC voting process.

Residential

Residential buildings in Columbus comply with the state mandated codes or the 2009 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 68.6. The City of Columbus testifies at state board meetings for increased stringency in the residential building energy codes 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: May 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Columbus does not staff any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city requires plan reviews, site inspections, and performance testing to verify code compliance. Columbus’s Building and Zoning Services staff meets with contractors, designers, and owners to review energy code compliance pathways on an as-requested basis.

Last updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Columbus does not have a mandatory commercial and multifamily benchmarking and disclosure policy. The city launched the Columbus Energy Challenge, a voluntary benchmarking program that aims to reduce energy use in building 50,000 square feet and over by 20% and benchmark 70% of participating buildings by 2020.

Single-family     

The city does not have a single-family benchmarking and disclosure policy.

Last updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Columbus offers eight incentives for enegry efficienct and renewable energy projects. 

Columbus offers commercial property owners access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. They city also offers tax-increment financing through the Clean Energy Financing program for energy efficiency upgrades and solar projects in small businesses and large commercial/industrial buildings. Additionally, the city offers projects that exceed standard construction and renovation requirements with more favorable incentives. Columbus launched the Community Energy Savers to improve residential and commercial energy efficiency. 

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: June 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

All residential projects in Columbus that are awarded city or federal funds, as well as all home ownership programs, have to be built in accordance with the AWARE Manual (Accessibility, Water Conservation, Air Quality, Resource Conscious, Energy-Efficient). The standards are applicable to new construction and housing rehabilitation.  The target energy efficiency performance is to meet or exceed the ENERGY STAR requirement for the region.

Last updated: May 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

We could not verify if the city has programs committed to developing a dedicated energy efficiency and/or renewable energy workforce.

Last updated: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 8.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

American Electric Power (AEP Ohio; Ohio Power), an investor-owned utilities (IOU), is the primary electric utility serving the City of Columbus. Columbia Gas Ohio, an IOU, is Columbus’s primary gas utility. The City of Columbus is an active promoter of the energy efficiency programs. 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. On the state level, Columbus strongly advocates for additional spending requirements for energy efficiency projects for all of its utilities.

The Columbus Department of Public Utilities provides drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management to the City of Columbus.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, AEP Ohio reported 456,625 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 1.07% of retail sales. In 2017, Columbia Gas of Ohio reported savings of 10.67 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 0.69% of its retail sales. These figures cover the entire Ohio service territory, not just Columbus. AEP Ohio offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers. Columbia Gas of Ohio similarly offers natural gas programs to residential and business customers.

The City of Columbus promotes utility energy efficiency rebate programs through the GreenSpot program, the Get Green Columbus website, as well as the Columbus Energy Challenge. In addition, the city regularly speaks to groups about the utility rebate programs available. Additionally, AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas of Ohio participate in the City of Columbus' Energy Working Group, which aims to help the City meet its energy objectives described in Green Memo III. Through the Energy Working Group, Columbia Gas of Ohio and AEP Ohio helped develop an Energy Efficiency Roadmap for Columbus Businesses and Organizations, which provides information on incentives for which customers may be eligible.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

AEP Ohio offers the Community Assistance Program to qualified low-income residential customers. The program includes health and safety measures, water efficiency measures and appliance upgrades. The program coordinates with the Weatherization Assistance Program and partners with community action agencies to reach customers and provide combined funding. The program targets high energy users to participate in the program. In 2017, according to AEP Ohio, it achieved 6,050 MWh in energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 4,397 low-income customers.

Columbia Gas of Ohio offers its WarmChoice program to income eligible homeowners and renters with high natural gas usage. Through this program, customers receive no cost energy efficiency measures including air sealing, and attic and sidewall insulation. Gas appliances are inspected for safety and repaired or if necessary, replaced with high efficiency models. The program targets participants of the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus) program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Columbia Gas of Ohio partners with the federal Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) in order to leverage funding and maximize services to customers. In 2017, according to Columbia Gas of Ohio, it achieved 0.59 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income program, while serving 1,967 low-income customers.

Multifamily Programs

AEP Ohio offers the Residential Multi-family program, which includes direct install measures such as LED bulbs, LED nightlights, low-flow showerheads, low-flow faucet aerators and smart power strips. This program targeted individually-metered complexes with five or more residential units. Installation appointments are arranged through the facilities’ property management. In 2017, the program served 5,214 customers installing 87,143 measures at the properties. Energy savings information are not available.

Columbia Gas of Ohio offers a Multifamily Audit program for buildings with 5-10 units through its Home Energy Audit and Rebate Program. Columbia also launched a pilot for low-income multifamily customers through its WarmChoice program, offering no cost weatherization service to customers living in multifamily units. Additionally, Columbia has a multifamily component of its EfficiencyCrafted Homes program which works with builders to construct new residences that are built above energy code. In 2017, Columbia Gas’s multifamily program efforts achieved 0.05 MMtherms of savings while serving 1,271 households.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Neither AEP Ohio nor Columbia Gas provides building managers or owners with automatic whole-building benchmarking data for input into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. AEP Ohio signed on with the City of Columbus to partner on the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Initiative, Energy Data Accelerator, to facilitate better access to energy usage data.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, AEP 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

In 2017, the Mayor announced the City’s goals to explore a 100% renewable energy portfolio for municipal operations by 2030.  By 2023, the City will purchase 50% of its energy from renewable energy resources. In 2019, the City will conduct a study to procure on-site renewable energy generation. Beyond these upcoming efforts, the city of Columbus does not participate in activities or strategies to help spur or encourage more utility-scale or distributed renewable energy generation from its local electric utility, such as testifying in public utility commission proceedings related to renewable energy, creating a formal partnership with the electric utility on renewable generation, or participating in utility planning efforts to increase renewable generation.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The City of Columbus and Columbia Gas of Ohio have partnered on water efficient spray nozzles for restaurants. In addition, Columbus’s GreenSpot program encourages residents and businesses to adopt conservation measures, which includes water efficiency measures. The GreenSpot Backyards Program provides $50 rebates towards rain barrels, native plants, and $100 towards trees. As of December 2018, GreenSpot had over 18,100 members. The City of Columbus has set a target for water efficiency to reduce gallons of treated water produced to 42,284 gallons per capita, which is a 3% reduction, by 2020. In 2017, the City saw 40,515 gallons per capita.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The Division of Water and Division of Wastewater of the Department of Public Utilities have reduced energy usage at treatment plants by 5% for electricity and 50% for natural gas. This results in an 18.8% overall energy reduction (kBtu). The only energy generation from the City’s wastewater treatment plant comes from a partnership with a privately-owned digester facility, Quasar. The City pays Quasar to take sludge which Quasar uses to generate electricity. The City currently has an RFP out to provide design work for future CPH plants at both wastewater treatment plants. The city’s two waste water treatment plants saw 16,012 dry ton solids converted to energy.

Last Updated: March 2019

Transportation
Score: 13 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the City of Columbus is the Central Ohio Transit Authority. COTA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus service. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Columbus, and many surrounding middle-Ohio cities and towns. The Department of Public Service is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Columbus does not have a sustainable transportation plan in place to reduce VMTs. However, in 2017 Columbus joined MORPC’s Sustainable2050 program that includes a goal to reduce the vehicle miles traveled per capita. In addition, the Columbus Climate Adaptation Plan was completed in December 2018. The plan outlines a set of 43 prioritized actions that should be taken by city government, regional organizations, and residents to make the city more climate resilient. The actions related to transportation include idling reductions and promoting alternative transportation mode options. In addition, COTA, the local transit authority, has adopted a Next Gen plan to increase mass transit ridership and reduce VMT.

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

The Columbus municipal planning code includes citywide commercial zoning overlays to encourage pedestrian- and transit-friendly development in existing corridors while traditional neighborhood development zoning encourages a mix of residential types and commercial properties.

Residential Parking Policies

The City requires at least 0.75 to 2 parking spaces per residential unit depending on the number of dwelling units per building. There is no parking requirement in the downtown area.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, the zoning code includes the use of tax incentives in the downtown zoning district to attract high-density development to the downtown area.

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

Columbus adopted its complete streets policy in 2008, through Ordinance No. 1987-2008. The adoption of the policy encourages the inclusion of complete streets principles in all road construction and maintenance projects.

Car Sharing

The City of Columbus utilizes Car2go for its car-sharing program and currently has over 25,000 registered users. The City has rules and regulations that allow for dedicated, on-street car share spaces.

Bike Sharing

Columbus is served by a bike-sharing program, CoGo with over 72 operational stations and 600 bikes. Electric bikes are expected to be integrated into the CoGo system in 2019.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The COTA transit system that serves Columbus received $76,916,480.80 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $38.01 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the fourth highest category ($20-49) available in the City Scorecard.

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 Columbus’ Transit Connectivity Index value is 5.1, putting it in the fourth highest category (5-6.99) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Through the Smart Columbus program, the City is offering rebates to help central Ohio-based taxis, transportation network companies (TNCs), TNC drivers, car sharing, ride-sharing, and limo services make the switch to electric vehicles. Thirty incentives of $3,000 each ($90,000 total) are available to transportation service providers who purchase new, fully electric vehicles between November 20, 2018 and April 15, 2019. Earlier in 2018, the City awarded another $30,000 in rebates to Columbus Yellow Cab during a similar incentive program.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

AEP Ohio is offering $10 million in incentives to install EV charging stations for local government, public charging, workplace charging, and MUD charging. In addition to the AEP Ohio incentive program, Smart Columbus is offering up to $25,000 per site for MUD EV charging stations. In 2018, the City of Columbus Division of Power offered its residential customers up to $500 in rebates to install Level 2 EV chargers at their home or apartment/condo. This incentive is still active/available.

EV Charging Locations

The City owns 94 charging stations available for public use.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Columbus 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

Columbus 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

Columbus 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

Columbus 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 Columbus, almost 58% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: April 2019