State and Local Policy Database

Grand Rapids

City Scorecard Rank


Grand Rapids, MI

29.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
4 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Grand Rapids’s Sustainability Plan FY2017 – FY2021 focuses on improving the sustainability of municipal operations and the community, including in the climate and energy sectors.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Sustainability Plan establishes a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations by 25% below 2009 levels by 2021. ACEEE does not project the city will achieve its GHG emissions reduction goal for local government operations because no data was available to make a projection. 

Energy Reduction Goal

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

Renewable Energy Goal

The Sustainability Plan also includes a goal for the city government to use 100% renewable energy for its operations.

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Grand Rapids does not have a formal fleet procurement policy or fuel efficiency requirement. The City’s fleet is composed of 10.6% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. 

Public Lighting

Grand Rapids Outdoor Lighting Ordinance includes provisions of the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance and requires LEDs to use intelligent lighting controls. The City is planning for a system-wide light conversion to LEDs and currently 5% of streetlights are upgraded. Grand Rapids no longer installs HPS fixtures.  

Green Building Requirements 

The Sustainability Policy for City Buildings states that new municipal building construction and renovation projects shall include appropriate LEED principles.

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Buildings Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Grand Rapids benchmarks all municipal facilities. The City uses ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark 227 facilities, totaling 4.4 million 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: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 2 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Grand Rapids adopted a Sustainability Plan for fiscal years 2017 to 2021.  

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

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

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.  

Energy Data Reporting

The city has not publicly reported community-wide energy data.

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to 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.

Accountability to Equity

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: 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

The Sustainability Plan includes a goal to increase urban tree canopy coverage to 40% by 2021.

The city’s Vital Streets program incorporates low impact development techniques into street planning and design.

The city has a private tree protection ordinance.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 6 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Grand Rapids enforces the state’s building energy codes. The city does not have a comprehensive code compliance policy. Grand Rapids runs a voluntary benchmarking program through its 2030 District. Grand Rapids offers property assessed clean energy financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy project.

Last updated: May 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Michigan has statewide requirements for residential and commercial buildings. We did not find information regarding city advocacy for state improvement in residential or commercial energy codes. To learn more about the building codes and requirements for the State of Michigan, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial construction must comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2007. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 50.3.


Residential construction must comply with the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 57.0.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV-ready.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Grand Rapids does not have any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city does not require plan reviews, site inspections, nor performance testing as a means of compliance verification. The city does not offer upfront support for energy code compliance, however the city does have a Code Compliance office.

Last updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Grand Rapids does not have a mandatory benchmarking, rating, and disclosure policy for commercial and/or multifamily properties. However, the city established a voluntary 2030 District, with 14 million square feet committed to the initiative. 


The city has not adopted a single-family benchmarking and disclosure policy.

Last updated: May 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Grand Rapids offers commercial and multifamily property owners access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects.

Last updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

Grand Rapids has not adopted a policy requiring building owners to conduct any additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last updated: March 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

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

Consumers Energy, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility for the City of Grand Rapids. The primary natural gas supplier for Grand Rapids is DTE Energy, an IOU. The State of Michigan requires spending and savings targets for its electric and rate-regulated natural gas utilities through an EERS. The utilities must file documentation of energy efficiency programs to the state PUC. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Michigan page of the State Database.

The City of Grand Rapids Water Department is the municipal utility that provides the City of Grand Rapids with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, Consumers Energy reported 562,121 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.56% of its retail sales. In 2017, DTE reported 16.73 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 1.51% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. These savings figures cover both utilities’ entire service jurisdiction, not just Grand Rapids. Consumers Energy offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers. DTE similarly offers natural gas incentives to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

While the City of Grand Rapids does not have an official partnership with its utilities, both the electricity and natural gas utilities sit on the City’s Energy Advisory Committee, which is charged with challenging the city to stay at the forefront of energy work. The City is also working collaboratively with the utilities on reducing the city’s municipal energy use and developing a program for low income residents.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Consumers Energy’s Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Assistance Program provides services to single-family, income-eligible customers to reduce energy consumption and improve comfort in their home. It offers no-cost direct services that include energy efficiency upgrades, home energy assessments and energy-saving education. The program collaborates with local stakeholders, such as the municipal government, Community Action Agencies, Habitat for Humanity, United Way 211, Housing Commissions, and many additional non-profit organizations. The program uses a variety of delivery strategies and delivery channels, such as home energy assessments, food bank lighting distribution, collaboration with community-based organizations, and deeper weatherization measures. The program leverages other funding sources such as the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and philanthropic funds to complete housing retrofit/weatherization projects. In 2017, according to Consumers Energy, it saved 5,237 MWh while serving 5,466 low-income customers with their program.

DTE offers the Energy Efficiency Assistance Program which provides recommendations, financial assistance and education to income-qualified customers and assists them in reducing their energy use and managing their utility costs. The program leverages the services provided by member agencies of the Michigan Community Action Agency Association (MCAAA), municipalities, counties, public housing commissions, faith-based institutions, community development corporations, and nonprofit organizations with existing housing and energy programs. DTE does not pay incentives directly to its income-qualified customers; instead the program delivers incentive funding to these customers through a variety of in-kind services. These services include weatherization plus the replacement of inefficient refrigerators with ENERGY STAR® models in single-family homes and low-income multifamily dwellings, as well as in-home consultation and installation of energy-efficient measures through the Home Energy Consultation (HEC) Program for income-qualified customers. DTE streamlines eligibility requirements by using the same requirements as many other programs for low-income customers. Through the Energy Efficiency Assistance program, DTE partners directly with local agencies, municipalities, counties, public housing commissions, faith-based institutions, community development corporations, and nonprofit organizations to offer housing and energy programs. DTE also offers three additional programs for low-income customers: 1) the Multi-Family Low-Income, 2) Home Energy Consultation Low-Income, and 3) Home Energy Reports for low-income customers. In 2017, according to DTE, it achieved 2.08 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 105,686 natural gas customers.

Multifamily Programs

The Consumers Energy Multifamily Energy Efficiency Program offers equipment incentives to building owners that include lighting, lighting controls, heating, cooling, ventilation, water heating, building envelope and custom measures, for whole building energy retrofit opportunities for major renovation/new construction. The program also includes direct install measures for tenants and common areas that include lighting, aerators, showerheads, pipe wrap, and thermostats. For income qualified customers, expanded measures are offered for air sealing and insulation, smart thermostat and some appliances. In 2017, according to Consumers Energy, its multifamily program achieved 9,941 MWh while serving 581 customers.

DTE provides two comprehensive programs for multifamily properties. The Multifamily In-Unit Improvements Program offers no-cost direct install of energy efficient lighting, showerheads, faucet aerators, programmable thermostats, and pipe wrap installation where units have electric water heating. The program also conducts a free energy assessment to identify other potential energy-saving upgrades. Additionally, these utilities offer the Multifamily Common Areas Improvements Program, which offers rebates for common area measures such as interior and exterior lighting, furnace/boiler upgrades, water heating, air conditioning, building and duct insulation, programmable thermostats, and ENERGY STAR windows. In 2017, according to DTE, the program saved 5,704 MWh and 0.43 MMtherms while serving 10,780 electric and 8,843 natural gas customers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Neither Consumers Energy nor DTE provides automated ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking services at this time. However, Consumers Energy has personnel on staff that can provide an ENERGY STAR benchmark upon request for customers that require it. The City of Grand Rapids does not advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers or the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities at this time.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

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

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The City of Grand Rapid’s has provided public comments to the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) advocating for increased energy efficiency and renewable energy. The city is also working with Consumers Energy on strategies to accomplish the city’s renewable energy goals as well as increase renewable energy generation within the city.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The water and wastewater utilities of Grand Rapids are operating under an ESCO to achieve greater efficiencies. The water utility also participates in Consumers Energy’s demand response program. The wastewater utility utilizes energy programs and rebates by the utility. Both the water and wastewater utilities also participate in the Consumers Energy Business Energy Efficiency Program (CEBEEP), which offers dedicated focus to the Municipal Water and Wastewater sector through the Industrial Energy Program (IEP). The wastewater utility utilizes energy programs and rebates by the utility. At this time, the City of Grand Rapids has not established a water savings target or goal.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The water utility has set a goal to reduce electricity consumption for water filtration and distribution system by 5% as compared to FY2018 by FY2021. In addition, the water filtration plant and wastewater treatment plant both have ESCO agreements for the reduction of energy in their operations. The water treatment ESCO for the Lake Michigan Filtration Plant (LMFP) is projected to save 676,215 kWh a year and 223,787 cubic feet (CCF) a year with a savings of about $191,427. The wastewater department is a member of the DOE Better Buildings program and has a goal to 25% reduction in energy intensity. The city’s water system does not self-generate its own energy, but the construction of a CPH/digestion system is in progress at the wastewater treatment plant.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 8.5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Multiple adopted plans have transportation components that speak to the City's transportation goals. Although a specific target has not been set, VMT reductions were highlighted as an effect of sustainable transportation in the Green Grand Rapids Report, and reduction of VMT was listed as a value in the City's Vital Streets Plan.

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

Areas with high transit access and priority corridors have overlays zoned to incentivize greater density and mixed use, including the city's Traditional Business Area, Transit Oriented Development, and other zoning designations. The City’s current form-based zoning ordinance was unanimously approved in 2007 and has been amended in its entirety several times to increase density, add new uses (such as marijuana), and insure that the appropriate urban design adjustments are made to encourage on-street parking and transit improvements. Both pedestrian and vehicular connectivity is required, as is bicycle parking. There are no exclusive single-family zone districts for the entire city. The ordinance was written after an extensive community engagement process with the understanding that if the code properly reflects the public’s desire for walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, then the project should be approved with administrative approval.

Residential Parking Policies

There are no parking minimums, and there are parking maximums for the Downtown and TOD-zoned properties. In all other neighborhoods, there is a parking maximum, and the Planning Director can halve requirements if transit is present, car sharing, shared parking arrangements, on-street parking, and other mechanisms. In 2007 the Zoning Ordinance was re-written; at that time parking numbers were cut in half from pre-2007 numbers (e.g. 2.5 spaces/1,000 square feet instead of formerly 5 spaces/1,000 sq ft).

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Density bonuses are employed to encourage mixed-income housing, affordable housing, and accessible housing.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

In the latest strategic plan, Grand Rapids has a goal to achieve 50% total commute trips by transit, walking, biking, and ridesharing.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

We could not determine if the City is on track to meet its goals.

Complete Streets

Grand Rapids adopted its complete streets policy in 2011.

Car Sharing

At this time, the City does not have a formal policy in place to provide dedicated on-street and off-street parking for carshare vehicles.

Bike Sharing

The City of Grand Rapids is not currently served by a bike share system, but the City of Grand Rapids, in partnership with the Downtown Development Authority, completed a bike share feasibility study and strategic business plan in 2018. Staff is expected to begin drafting a policy, regulatory and operational framework in 2019 to either launch a bike share system or facilitate bike share service pilots in Grand Rapids.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The Rapid transit system that serves Grand Rapids has received $24,055,928.80 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $23.15 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the second lowest category ($20-49) available in transit funding.

Access to Transit Services

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Grand Rapid’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 6.6, putting it in the second lowest category (5-6.99) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, Grand Rapids does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

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

EV Charging Locations

The City owns 30 charging stations available for public use.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Grand Rapids 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

Grand Rapids 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

Grand Rapids 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

Grand Rapids 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 Grand Rapids, 63% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: April 2019