State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Columbus, OH

40.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 5 out of 15 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: September 2021

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Columbus set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects that 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

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.

Equity Accountability Measures

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: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

The City of Columbus is pursuing its first microgrid at the Tussing Rd. Pump Station to be constructed in July 2021 via an agreement with AEP Ohio.

Last updated: September 2021

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

The Urban Forestry Master Plan includes a goal to achieve no-net tree loss by 2030 and to increase the canopy to 40% by 2050.

UHI Policies and Programs

The city also offers stormwater service fee credits for private properties that install green infrastructure. The Parkland Dedication Ordinance promotes the preservation of land. 

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 10.5 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 was the first city in Ohio to adopt a mandatory benchmarking ordinance for commercial and multifamily buildings. The city offers PACE financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Last updated: July 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's energy code for residential buildings is based on the 2018 IECC. To learn more about Ohio’s building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial buildings in Columbus comply with the state mandated codes. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 59.0. 


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 54. 

Solar-readiness policies

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

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies 

EV-Ready Ordinance adoption is a priority action (through ACCC) in Columbus and under development with internal city leadership. The city is working to adopt an EV-ready ordinance targeted at single family residential, multifamily, and commercial new construction. 

Low-energy use requirements

Columbus requires new municipal buildings to achieve LEED standards.

Last updated: August 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Columbus does not staff any full-time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city requires plan reviews and site inspections 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: June 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

The Energy and Water Benchmarking & Transparency Ordinance requires commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 50,000 square feet to benchmark and disclose annual energy and water data. 


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 offers the Sustainable Steps program to provide commercial and residential properties free energy audits. 

Last update: June 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Columbus partners with IMPACT Community Action to provide run two workforce development programs. The Community Energy Advocate program is a 16-week training per cohort, focused on developing the skills to be a part of the clean energy industry in Central Ohio. Staff meet with residents in the Opportunity Neighborhoods to educate on energy efficiency, provide immediate opportunities to save energy and water, and connect eligible residents into existing home weatherization and efficiency upgrade programs run by IMPACT and MORPC. 

The city also funded the Community Energy Saves program that led to over 30,000 home energy audits in Opportunity Neighborhoods. The city hired energy savers advocates from Opportunity Neighborhoods, to better align staff with the communities they serve.

Last updated: August 2021

Score: 11.5 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.

Through Smart Columbus, the city and its private partners have put in place several projects focused on reducing VMT. These projects include strategies to increase the use and proliferation of electric vehicles, the promotion of smart mass transit including a form of bus rapid transit along Cleveland Avenue with connected technology that allows buses to communicate with traffic signals to keep them "green" longer, event management parking strategies in the downtown and the Short North, and strategies to promote more electric fleets in private and public organizations.

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: November 2021

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: November 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

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.

Last Updated: November 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve the City of Columbus have received $155,676,647.60 on average annually between 2015 and 2019. That equates to roughly $69.08 per capita between 2015 and 2019 within the Authority's 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 Columbus’ Transit Connectivity Index value is 5.2, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: November 2021

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 has 308 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 34.3 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

Columbus does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

The Central Ohio Transit Authority, which operates the bus system in Central Ohio, has a goal to have at least 10 electric buses by the end of 2021.

Last Updated: November 2021

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Freight is a primary focus of the Smart Columbus efforts that came out of the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. This document effectively serves as the city’s freight strategic plan as it highlights the need to improve the efficiency of the freight system through the use of IT applications. In 2018, the City put out a request for information to vendors for initial feedback on the development of a system to deploy Truck Platooning capabilities on select limited access highways and major arterials, if the technology allows, around Columbus as part of the Smart Columbus mobility initiative.

Last Updated: November 2021


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.

Last Updated: November 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 10.5 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 of Ohio, an IOU, is Columbus’s primary gas utility. The City of Columbus is an active promoter of the energy efficiency programs. 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. 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: August 2021  

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, AEP Ohio reported 462,637 MWh in electric net incremental savings, representing 1.06% of electric retail sales. In 2019, AEP Ohio spent $62,550,900 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 2.50% of its retail revenue. 

In 2019, Columbia Gas of Ohio reported 10.33 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 0.59% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2019, Columbia Gas spent $29,559,487 on natural gas energy efficiency, which equates to $21.87 per residential customer. These savings and spending figures cover the entire service jurisdiction of both utilities, not just the City of 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. 

Columbus and its utilities continue to work together to promote energy efficiency. The City of Columbus promotes utility energy efficiency rebate programs through the GreenSpot program, the Sustainable Columbus website, and has assigned an Assistant Director, Special Projects to serve as point person for the Community Energy Savers program through which the City, AEP Ohio, and Columbia Gas are working jointly to promote utility energy efficiency programs in six neighborhoods in Columbus with the highest energy burden. This program is part of the American Cities Climate Challenge. These programs ended in 2020.

Last Updated: August 2021  

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. COVID-19 impacted the program implementation, with AEP Ohio pausing onsite installations for a number of months in 2020. AEP Ohio bundles funding with Weatherization Assistance Program and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding.  

In 2019, we were unable to confirm total spending, savings, and customers served for AEP Ohio. 

Columbia Gas of Ohio offers its WarmChoice program to income eligible homeowners and renters. Through this program, customers receive no cost energy efficiency measures including air sealing, and attic and sidewall insulation. Natural 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. 

Columbia Gas of Ohio partners with the federal Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) in order to leverage funding and maximize services to customers. Columbia’s WarmChoice providers often coordinate funding from Columbia with other funding sources to better serve customers, including the Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) and electric utility funding. The program includes health and safety measures such as, but not limited to, venting issues, cracked heat exchanges in furnaces, gas leaks, and unsafe wiring. 

Columbia Gas of Ohio also offers a Home Energy Audit and Rebate program for customers above income guidelines for WarmChoice, which provides a reduced cost energy audit and rebates on recommended energy efficiency upgrades. Customers above income guidelines for WarmChoice (150% Federal Poverty Level) but at or below 80% Area Median Income, qualify for a $20 energy audit and max out of pocket of $300 for recommended energy efficiency upgrades, including attic and wall insulation and air/duct sealing. Customers above income for the assisted tier of Home Energy Audit can receive a $50 energy audit and rebates on recommended energy efficiency upgrades.  

In 2019, according to Columbia Gas of Ohio, it achieved 0.52 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $11,283,698 on its low-income program and served 1,938 low-income customers. 

In 2019, the City of Columbus worked with AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas on the Community Energy Savings Program, which aimed to implement energy audits with a focus on six low-income neighborhoods (Linden, Franklinton, Hilltop, Near East, Milo-Grogan, and University District/Italian Village). Each neighborhood set a goal for the number of audits and rebates they want to achieve, and they get a financial award from the utilities if they achieve their goal to be used for an energy upgrade. Linden achieved their energy efficiency goal and received $35,000 to improve exterior lighting at the Hamilton STEM Academy playground and water heater upgrades at Como Elementary School, Duxberry Park Elementary School, Hamilton STEM Academy, and Windsor STEM Academy. 

Multifamily Programs 

AEP Ohio offers the Residential Multi-family program, which includes free 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. Savings, spending, and participation data for the program was not available for 2019. 

Columbia offers direct installation of energy efficiency measures (energy efficient showerheads and faucet aerators) in multifamily properties through its energy efficiency programs. Additionally, Columbia offers energy audits for multi-family 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 2019, Columbia Gas’s multifamily program efforts achieved 0.05 MMtherms of savings while serving 1,851 multifamily housing units. Spending data for the program was not available. 

Last Updated: July 2021  

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

AEP Ohio has partnered with Columbia Gas for automated benchmarking for gas and electric services in the portfolio manager. The City of Columbus is working with Columbia Gas to expand their data access solutions to include multifamily data, and the city has also invested in an Automated Benchmarking Program to provide whole-building monthly data to City of Columbus Division of Power and Division of Water customers. 

The City of Columbus provides community wide energy usage information for planning and evaluation purposes through the Carbon Disclosure Project.  

Since summer 2019, the City has met at least monthly with energy efficiency program staff at AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas of Ohio to ensure that whole-building data access solutions are in place for commercial and multifamily building owners. Meeting topics have included but are not limited to: best practices for conducting meter-mapping for multi-tenant properties; data privacy solutions to protect tenant anonymity; data access solutions that are compatible with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager; the importance of data access for community-wide climate action goals. In part, these meetings have led to Columbia Gas upgrading their automated benchmarking program to include access for large multifamily properties in addition to commercial and industrial, and AEP Ohio identifying alternative funding sources to continue providing whole-building data for commercial and multifamily building owners despite House Bill 6 eliminating their energy efficiency funding and programs, including their legacy automated benchmarking program. In addition, the city of Columbus has been working with partners on an Ohio utility data disclosure project where participating cities would gain access to residential and small business gas and electric utility data not typically made available by the investor-owned utilities.

Last Updated: August 2021  

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal  

In 2021, AEP set a company-wide goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with an interim goal of 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from a 2000 baseline. To achieve this goal, AEP will need to reduce emissions by 1.49% annually from 2020 levels. 

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid 

At Mayor Ginther’s 2020 State of the City address, he committed the City of Columbus to pursuing community choice aggregation with a goal to implement a program that provides 100% clean, renewable energy by 2022. In order to meet the goal, the City of Columbus has placed community choice aggregation on the November 2020 ballot, and Columbus residents voted in favor of a city-wide CCA program. Clean Energy Columbus began in June 2021.

Columbus is working with AEP Ohio to develop a microgrid demonstration project on one of its Recreation and Parks facilities to test the technology and create a critical community resource center to serve as a resilience hub in the event of a natural disaster. As part of the Smart Columbus, initiative the City of Columbus has supported AEP Ohio's proposal to install 900 MW of renewable energy in Ohio to decarbonize the grid.  

Last Updated: August 2021  

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide 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. Recently, GreenSpot and Public Utilities’ Division of Power (DOP) has developed a process to offer DOP customers water conservation kits. This program is to start toward the end of 2019. GreenSpot and Division of Power partnered with Columbia Gas of Ohio to install water saving shower heads and bathroom sink aerators in 1,499 homes.  

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 2018, the City saw 40,150 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 Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant is proceeding with a combined heat and project. It is currently in the 30% design phase review. Construction will begin in 2021 with the system going online in 2023. The system will burn nearly all the biogas created at the plant and supply half the electrical power the plant consumes. The Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant CHP project will also proceed after further capacity studies are completed. 

Last Updated: July2021  

Local Government Score:
2.5 out of 10 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

The city's draft Climate Action Plan includes a goal to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. 

Energy Reduction Goal

We were unable to find information on a current goal to reduce local government energy use.

Renewable Energy Goal

We were unable to find information on a current renewable energy goal.

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies 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. From 2015-2017, Columbus reduced its fleet emissions by 14% by increasing budget for efficient vehicles purchases for both light and heavy-duty vehicles.  Columbus’ fleet is composed of 11% 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, but the city has published new streetlight design guidelines. Columbus is in the process of converting all existing streetlights to LED. As of 2020, the City of Columbus has approximately 2,800 LED street lights which represents about 5% of the City's 56,000 street light system. The City expects the full conversion from High Pressure Sodium to LED street lighting to be complete by 2040.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

The City of Columbus has installed approximately 858 kW of solar generating capacity on city facilities.

Inclusive procurement

It is the policy of the City of Columbus to provide business concerns owned by minority and female persons the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in contracts awarded by the City. The City of Columbus Office of Diversity and Inclusion is responsible for tracking City Department utilization of minority and female business enterprises (M/FBEs) and comparing performance to targets, including for a recent solar power purchase agreement.  The City currently does not currently have a preference for minority- or women-owned businesses. However, the City recently conducted a disparity study. The City is in the process of implementing the findings of these study, which includes recommendations for preferences for minority- or women-owned business in particular scenarios.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking 

The City of Columbus tracks gas, electric, and water utility bills for 540 facilities that cover 7,729,136 square feet. 218 of these properties are tracked in ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager.  In February 2020 the City passed a benchmarking ordinance requiring all 66 of the City's municipal buildings 25,000 sq ft and above be benchmarked in Portfolio Manager and submitted annually to Building and Zoning Services starting June 1, 2021.  

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy 

The Sustainable Columbus Municipal Operations Energy Efficiency Relay Team and Southface Institute finished developing a Comprehensive Energy Management Plan outlining the steps needed to reduce municipal building energy and GHG consumption at the end of 2020.  The plan specifies that the largest (over 25,000 square feet) and highest site energy intensity (150% above the national median EUI) buildings be the focus of retro-commissioning and capital energy efficiency improvements.

Last updated: June 2021