State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Honolulu, HI

26.00Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
Score: 3.5 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Honolulu municipal government follows many of the State of Hawaii’s climate and renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives.

Climate Mitigation Goal

As part of the Chicago Climate Charter, the City and County of Honolulu committed to greenhouse gas emissions reductions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, Hawaii has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.

Energy Reduction Goal

The State’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard sets a goal to meet 70% of Hawaii’s energy demand through energy efficiency and renewable energy measures.

Renewable Energy Goal

Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standard mandates 100% renewable energy use by 2045.

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

The City and County of Honolulu adopted a Fleet Procurement Policy, which prioritizes the purchase of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles. Honolulu does not have a fuel efficiency requirement for public fleet, but it plans to shift its entire fleet to renewable resources by 2035 and procure only zero emission buses after 2025.

Honolulu’s fleet is composed of  0.9% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles.

Public Lighting

Honolulu has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. In 2018, Honolulu began the conversion of all 53,500 streetlights to LED fixtures. As of December, 2018, the City had completed 60% of the project. The upgrades are expected to use 60% less energy, equivalent to eliminating 14,400 tons of greenhouse gases each year and save $5 million annually.

Green Building Requirements

Honolulu requires city facilities that are larger than 5,000 square feet to comply with LEED Silver. 

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Honolulu does not currently benchmark municipal buildings, but the City and County are in the preliminary stages of benchmarking electricity usage for key facilities. The City plans to implement a community-wide benchmarking and disclosure program for private buildings by 2030. By mid-2019, the City will complete a city-wide energy feasibility and benchmarking study for its largest facilities. Using the baseline study as a benchmark, the City will issue an efficiency performance contract that will include a prioritized set of energy efficiency retrofit projects, as well as renewable energy generation and storage opportunities, and EV infrastructure development. The Board of Water Supply (BWS) has entered into a 20‐year, $33 million Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with NORESCO LLC. This partnership allows the BWS to implement comprehensive energy efficiency, renewable energy, and operational improvements which guarantees enough energy savings over the next 20 years to pay for the contract. The project is being financed by a loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, managed by the State of Hawaii Department of Health.

Public Workforce Commuting

Honolulu offers public employees flexible schedules.

Last updated: June 2019

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

The city plans to release its Climate Action Plan in 2019.

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

The city does not have an energy reduction goal.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.   

Energy Data Reporting

The state of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism releases monthly energy data for Honolulu.

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

Honolulu has issued a Request for Proposal for the construction of a seawater air conditioning project for city-owned buildings in the downtown area.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Honolulu has set a goal to increase the urban canopy to 35% coverage by 2035 and to plant 100,000 trees on O’ahu by 2025.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 2 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Honolulu derives many of its energy policies from the state. The city requires third-party plan reviews and inspections for energy code compliance, but does not offer upfront support on the code. The city offers incentives for solar and energy efficiency projects on low-income properties. 

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Hawaii requires all counties to adopt the Hawaii Energy Code in 2015. The code adopted the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE 90.1-2013 with state-specific amendments. To learn more about Hawaii’s building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties must adhere to the 2006 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 75.4.


Residential properties must adhere to the 2006 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 75.0.

Solar- and EV-ready

The State of Hawaii passed a mandate requiring all new residential construction install a solar water heater. The city has not passed an EV-ready mandate.

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Honolulu does not staff any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code compliance. The city requires third-party plan reviews and inspections of new developments, but does not require performance testing. The city does not offer upfront support to developers or buildings owners regarding energy code compliance.

Last updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Honolulu does not have a mandatory benchmarking, rating, and disclosure policy for commercial and/or multifamily properties.


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

Last updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

The state of Hawaii offers two incentives for energy efficiency and solar energy projects for low-income property owners.

The Honolulu Solar Loan Program provides income-eligible homeowners with zero-interest loans for the installation of solar hot water heaters and solar photovoltaic systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

Honolulu 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

This city does not have programs committed to developing an energy efficiency and/or renewable energy workforce.

Last updated: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 7 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Hawai’i Electric, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility for the City of Honolulu. Hawai’i uses very little natural gas and therefore does not have natural gas energy efficiency programs. Hawai’i Energy is a third-party administrator that manages Hawai’i Electric’s efficiency programs across its service territory. To learn more about the state requirements for electric efficiency, please visit the Hawai’i page of the State Database.

The Board of Water Supply is the municipal utility that provides the City of Honolulu with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, Hawai’i Electric reported 92,253 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.41% of its retail sales. In 2017, Hawai’i Gas did not run any natural gas programs in Honolulu. These savings figures cover the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not just Honolulu. Hawai’i Electric offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers.

Hawai‘i Energy continued its partnership with local county governments in 2017, forming a formal agreement with the County of Hawai‘i through its Continuous Energy Improvement (CEI) program. This initiative identifies key areas of partnership for county agencies to work with Hawai‘i Energy on comprehensive energy reduction solutions that engage employees, optimize systems, and prioritize capital improvements for County facilities. Hawai’i Energy partnered with the State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) to successfully advocate for the State adoption of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which was adopted in March 2017.

In partnership with the City and County of Honolulu, the utility implemented its Energy Smart 4 Homes program with over 1,000 city-owned units. Through the program, professionals installed energy-efficient showerheads and faucets, along with ENERGY STAR® LED bulbs at no cost that will allow residents to save up to $160 a year. The utility is also heavily integrated with the City & County of Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency. The utility regularly participates in Honolulu’s various Climate Action and Resiliency stakeholder meetings, ensuring energy efficiency is cornerstone in the conversations of reduced fossil fuel usage and equity in access to clean energy.

Last Updated: April 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Hawai’i Energy offers a few programs targeted at low-income customers, including the Hui-Up and Bulk Appliance Purchase Program–Moloka‘i, Solar Water heater Direct Install program, and Energy Smart 4 Homes (ES4H) program. The Hui-Up and Bulk Appliance Purchase Program–Moloka‘i serves residents of rural areas—such as the island of Moloka‘i—who typically do not have access to an appliance store resulting in barriers for replacement. With no access to an onsite retail location, the cost to ship, deliver and remove the old unit is prohibitive from a financial and logistics perspective. Partnering with local organizations, Hawai‘i Energy brought 296 ENERGY STAR® clothes washers, clothes dryers, window air conditioners and refrigerators to Moloka‘i. The Solar Water Heater Direct Install program provides solar water heating systems for residents living in Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) properties on Moloka‘i, Maui, Hawai‘i and O‘ahu. The Energy Smart 4 Homes (ES4H) program provides retrofit services to low-income multifamily and single-family properties. This program provides efficient lighting, showerheads, smart power strips, and faucet aerators for multifamily properties.

In 2017, according to Hawai’i Energy, it achieved 13,253 MWh while serving more than 6,000 low-income customers.

Multifamily Programs

Hawai’i Energy offers the Energy Smart 4 Homes (ES4H) program, which provides multifamily customers direct access to no-cost energy efficiency solutions, such as high-efficiency lighting and water measures and energy management devices. In addition to work in individual units, the program provides common area lighting retrofits at enhanced incentive levels. In 2017, according to Hawai’i Energy, it achieved 1,813 MWh savings from its multifamily program, while serving 5,964 customers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Hawai’i Energy does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. However, it does perform manual sector benchmarks for the purposes of cultivating program participation. These benchmark results are offered free of charge. Currently, the City and County of Honolulu is an intervening party in PUC Docket 2018-008 as an advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers and the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities. As the proceeding continues, the City will continue to advocate for greater transparency and access to utility data for ratepayers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, Hawai’i 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 and County of Honolulu plays an active role in encouraging more utility-scale and distributed energy generation. For example, in 2018, the City and County intervened in the PUC Docket 2018-0088, advocating for renewable portfolio standards amongst other priority outcomes from reforming Hawai’i Energy’s incentive structure.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

Although the energy and water utilities do not offer joint energy and water efficiency programs, the utility program does have a partnership with Hawaii County’s Board of Water Supply that includes providing funding for water leak detectors. Additionally, Hawai’i Energy manages the State’s Public Benefits Fund, and the Board of Water Supply (BWS) is in the process of executing an Energy Efficiency Plus services agreement.

The City and County of Honolulu Board of Water Supply has water conservation goals detailed in their 2016 Water Master Plan. This document includes a comprehensive program that looks ahead 30 years to evaluate the entire water system, quantify future demands and source options, identify necessary improvements, and balance needs and costs of providing water to residents and visitors. The City’s Board of Water Supply also has a goal of achieving an average of less than 145 GPCD (gallons per capita per day) by 2040. This goal was formed via a 2016 baseline of 155 GPCD based on current island-based regional trends and projection for future conservation.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The City’s Board of Water Supply is currently implementing a $33 million “efficiency plus” contract to reduce the City’s Board of Water Supply energy use by 12% or 8 million kWh and ~6k MT CO2e annually. These projects target the water authority and wastewater treatment improvements financed by $143 million in taxable green bonds.

The city’s water system currently does not self-generate its own energy.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 11.5 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

At this time, the City of Honolulu does not have a standalone sustainable transportation 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

The City has a transit-oriented development (TOD) plan in conjunction with Honolulu’s rail transit system. The TOD special district design guidelines will require sustainable development around 19 or the 21 planned new stations. All projects within the TOD special district or subject to these guidelines.

Residential Parking Policies

The City has not issued parking minimums for new development as part of its zoning codes city-wide, but it is part of the TOD planning. Parking and loading requirements in the TOD Special District are eliminated or greatly reduced to encourage creative use of the property, reduce development costs, and encourage alternative transportation. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders should be the design priority, and reducing parking is a way to encourage these modes of transportation. There is no parking required for non-residential uses.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

As part of the TOD planning, the City offers density bonuses for projects seeking a major special district permit.

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

Honolulu adopted its complete streets policy in 2012 through Ordinance 12-15.

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

Biki is Honolulu’s bikeshare transportation system, operated by Bikeshare Hawai’i. Launched in late June 2017, Biki has 1,000 bikes at 100 conveniently located self-service.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The DTS transit system that serves Honolulu has received $346,993,354.80 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $350.98 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the highest category (greater than $150) 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 Honolulu’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 7.9, putting it in the third highest category (7-7.99) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

The State, with the City’s support, has a statute that exempts EVs from payment of parking fees. An electric vehicle on which an electric vehicle license plate is affixed shall be exempt from payment of parking fees, including those collected through parking meters, charged by any state or county authority in this State, except this exemption shall not apply: (1) For more than two and one-half hours of metered parking, or the maximum amount of time the meter allows, whichever is longer, or (2) To parking fees assessed in increments longer than one twenty-four-hour day, including weekly, monthly, or annual parking permits.

The State’s Department of Transportation, with the City’s support, allows EVs, even if occupied by a single motorist, to travel in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes during restriction times. Nissan North America, Inc. offers eligible customers of Hawaiian Electric a $3,000 rebate off MSRP for a 2018 Nissan LEAD, during the program period, plus a potential Federal tax incentive of up to $7,500.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

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

EV Charging Locations

The City owns 108 charging stations available for public use.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Honolulu 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

Honolulu 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

As part of the TOD planning, when developers seek additional height or density above the underlying maximum, or flexibility to the TOD Special District development standards, applicants will be required to provide demonstrable community benefits to justify the bonuses. Community benefits, often thought of as a “benefits package,” are elements of a project designed to mitigate adverse impacts on properties and areas within the TOD Special District. Under these guidelines, affordable housing is considered a “community benefit.”

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

The City offers a Bus Pass Subsidy Program that provides each person in an eligible household with a discount voucher to use toward the price of a monthly bus pass.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

In the City of Honolulu, 43% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: April 2019