State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Columbus, OH

72.00Scored out of 250Updated 05/2024
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 15 out of 45 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Columbus set a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 with an interim reduction goal of 45% below 2013 levels by 2030. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects that the city will achieve at least 75% of its near-term 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 Efficiency Goal

Columbus' Climate Action Plan includes targets for energy reduction community-wide, municipal and for each of the residential, commercial and industrial building sectors. The near-term goal is to reduce energy use by 10% from the residential, commercial, and industrial building sectors by 2030, using a 2013 baseline.

Renewable Energy Goal

The Climate Action Plan includes a goal to generate 100% renewable electricity by 2050. 

Last updated: January 2024

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: January 2024

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: January 2024

Adaptive Mitigation List All

Heat Island Mitigation 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. 

Resilience Hubs

We were unable to determine if the city has supported the creation of resilience hubs that incorporate clean energy resources and are sited in disadvantaged communities.

Last updated: January 2024

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Workforce development for disadvantaged workers

The City of Columbus supports the Empowered Program implemented through a local non-profit entitled IMPACT Community Action. Empowered is a clean-energy jobs program focused on recruiting participants from communities of color and women in Opportunity Neighborhoods. The City of Columbus is collaborating with IMPACT Community Action to partner with employers and unions committed to offering high-quality, safe, good paying jobs or apprenticeship opportunities to participants of the program.

Workforce development for the broader community

We could not determine if city has partnered with a local education institution, labor union, or community-based organization to create, support, and/or incentivize the development of clean energy workforce development initiatives that target training and support services for potential or existing workers from the broader community to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

Outcomes tracking

We could not determine if the city has instituted a mechanism to measure the performance and/or success of equitable workforce development initiatives focused on the clean energy sector.

Last updated: January 2024

Buildings Policies
Score: 11.5 out of 70 points
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 63. 


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 60.55. 

Solar-readiness policies

The city has not adopted a formal policy mandating new construction be solar-ready. However, the City of Columbus has achieved a Gold designation, the highest available, through the SolSmart program. The city allows solar use in all zones.

EV-readiness policies 

The City of Columbus has passed an Equitable Electric Vehicle Ready Parking ordinance. 

Low-energy use requirements

Columbus requires new municipal buildings to achieve LEED standards.

Electrification policies

The city is prohibited from adopting electrification policies by the state.

Last Update: September 2023

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

Columbus employees the equivalent of two full-time employees 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. Free up-front support is also available through the Benchmarking Help Desk.

Last Update: September 2023

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. 

Program outcomes

The city collects data on its Solar Co-op program to understand participation rates and allocation of program benefits among disadvantaged communities

Last Update: September 2023

Score: 15 out of 70 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The Columbus Climate Action Plan was released in 2021 and includes sustainable transportation strategies. It also includes strategies specifically benefitting disadvantaged communities.

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

According to the Columbus Climate Action Plan, the city has a goal of reducing VMT  15% by 2030 and 40% by 2050 from 2013 levels. 

The city’s target requires a 3.09% average per-capita annual decrease from its target baseline. Therefore, Columbus earned 1 point for the stringency of its target. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

The City of Columbus did not provide VMT data collected since the adoption of its goal in 2021; therefore, we cannot assess progress toward the goal. 

Last Updated: January 2024

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

We were unable to find information indicating that the City of Columbus has made changes to its zoning code in the past 10 years to facilitate more residential density, mixed-use development, or transit-oriented development. 

Parking Requirements

Columbus has eliminated parking minimums in certain districts. 

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Columbus offers a tax exemption for transit-oriented developments downtown. 

Affordable Housing around Transit

The City of Columbus does not require, preserve, or incentivize the development of affordable housing near transit. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The City of Columbus only has a growth target for transit passenger miles rather than a mode share target; therefore, the city did not earn points for this metric. 

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

The City of Columbus does not have a codified mode share target, and therefore cannot make progress toward the target. 

Subsidized Access to Efficient Transportation Options

The City of Columbus partners with Lyft on its CoGo bike share program, available to all Columbus residents over 18 receiving food, tuition, or utility assistance. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Columbus have received $127,780,431.00 on average annually between 2017 and 2021 from local sources. That equates to roughly $109.33 per capita between 2017 and 2021 within the service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The AllTransit Performance Score measures a given community's transit access and performance. The score considers connections to other routes, access to jobs, service frequency, and the percent of commuters who ride transit to work. The City of Columbus’s AllTransit Performance Score is 5.2, scoring 1 point in the City Scorecard. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Neither the City of Columbus nor the local utility currently provide incentives for purchasing efficient vehicles. 

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Neither the City of Columbus nor the local utility provide incentives for the installation of EV charging stations. 

Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Requirements

The City of Columbus requires all new multifamily and office/workplace buildings to include EV charging stations in 2% of spaces, and 1% in retail/commercial building spaces starting in 2024. 

EV Charging Ports

The City of Columbus has 43.2 vehicle charging ports per 100,000 people available for public use. 

Electric School Bus Goal

Neither the City of Columbus nor the local school district have set an electric school bus goal. 

EV Transit Bus Goal

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) set a goal of transitioning 100 of its bus fleet to zero emissions by 2035. COTA plans to prioritize routes serving communities with poor air quality as it transitions to zero-emission buses. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Sustainable Freight Plans

The City of Columbus does not have a sustainable freight plan or freight mobility plan in place, nor is it pursuing any freight efficiency strategies. 

Open Data Portal

The City of Columbus does not have an open data portal with real-time freight data. 

Last Updated: September 2023


Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 18 out of 40 points
Community Energy Infrastructure 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: September 2023  

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2021,  we were unable to verify savings, spending, and customers served AEP Ohio.

In 2019, Columbia Gas of Ohio reported 1,129,896 Mcf of net natural gas savings at the meter. In 2019, Columbia Gas spent $29,445,931 on natural gas energy efficiency. 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. 

the City of Columbus has a formal partnership with AEP Ohio for the Clean Energy Columbus program.

Last Updated: September 2023  

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 2021 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 2021, according to Columbia Gas of Ohio, it achieved 49,101 Mcf in energy savings, while spending $10,646,919 on its low-income program and served 1,933 low-income customers. 

The City of Columbus works with AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas to promote their low-income programs (this partnership has faced significant challenges in recent years following HB 6 eliminating AEP Ohio's energy efficiency programs and the Columbia Gas rate case settlement at the end of 2022 in which Columbia Gas agreed to eliminate all energy efficiency offerings except low income programs. To fill the gap made by Ohio's HB 6, Sustainable Columbus has funded IMPACT Community Action to provide Weatherization program access to residents up to 300% of the Federal Poverty level expanding eligibility for residents struggling with energy burden.

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 2021,  we were unable to verify Columbia Gas’s multifamily program saving, spending, or customers served.

Last Updated: September 2023  

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

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.  

Columbus has not participated in PUCO proceedings, but has successfully worked with AEP Ohio and Columbia Gas to obtain data needed to support Greenhouse Gas Inventories and the city's energy and water benchmarking program

Last Updated: September 2023

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Cities and 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 

The City of Columbus has a Community Choice Aggregation program. The program began in June 2021under the Clean Energy Columbus Program.

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.  

Clean Distributed Energy Resources 

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. 

Municipal Renewable Energy Procurement 

The City of Columbus has installed approximately 737 kW of solar generating capacity on city facilities at three sites. Two-onsite solar PV projects are currently under development.  

City Renewable Energy Incentive and Financing Programs 

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. 

The city has partnered with Solar United Neighbors to offer its its fourth educational co-op purchasing group, the 2023 Solar Co-op, which has a focus on outreach and financial support for low-to-moderate income households. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals 

The City does not currently offer deep water savings measures, but provides efficiency tools. Columbus has a toilet leak detection brochure and offers free test strips.

The City of Columbus has taken several actions to ensure it continually focuses on improving the energy efficiency of their assets, including digester improvements that produce methane fuel for boilers and electricity generation, installation of generators and other equipment to provide beneficial reuse of digester biogas which will produce about half of the total electricity used at the plant and large amounts of boiler heat for the treatment process and buildings. 

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation 

The Jackson Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant is proceeding with a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) project, which is currently under construction. Construction began in 2021 with the system anticipated to go online later in 2023.

Last Updated: September 2023  

Local Government Score:
12.5 out of 25 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city of Columbus set a goal to reduce local government GHG emissions 45% by 2030, using a 2013 baseline. 

Energy Reduction Goal

We could not find any information regarding a local energy reduction goal for Columbus. 

Renewable Energy Goal

The city of Columbus set a goal to use 100% renewable energy to power city operations by 2030. 

Last updated: November 2023

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. Columbus’ fleet is composed of 22% 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 streetlight design guidelines. Columbus is in the process of converting all existing streetlights to LED. As of 2023, the City of Columbus has approximately 3,770 LED streetlights which represents about 6.5% of the City's 58,000 streetlight system. Columbus expects the full conversion from High Pressure Sodium to LED street lighting to be complete by 2040. 

Inclusive procurement

In Columbus, each procurement must go through a goal-setting process with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion for minority/women-owned business participation. This implementation update details how Columbus has worked to implement recommendations from the disparity study released in 2019. The City of Columbus creates PLA and CBA with unions representing contracted workers to determine fair wages, benefits, and encourage hiring of workers from the disadvantaged neighborhood where work will take place.  

Last updated: October 2023

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

The City of Columbus benchmarks 241 municipal properties in ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager.  There are 68 municipal properties 25,000 sq ft and above subject to the Energy & Water Benchmarking & Transparency Ordinance passed by City Council in 2020.  All of these sites are continuously benchmarked.

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.

Municipal Employee Transportation Benefits

The City of Columbus provides subsidized transit passes to employees that work within the Downtown Special Improvement District and bikeshare subsidies to allow employees to purchase an annual membership at a discounted rate.

Last update: February 2024