State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Knoxville, TN

60.00Scored out of 250Updated 05/2024
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 9 out of 45 points
Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city adopted a goal to reduce GHG emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years' emissions data, ACEEE projects the city will achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal.

The city has released three greenhouse gas inventories for the years 2009, 2014, and 2017. The city also discloses community-wide emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Energy Reduction Goal

The city does not have a community-wide energy reduction goal.

Renewable Energy Goal

The city does not have a community-wide renewable energy goal.

Last updated: August 2023

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

The Equity Working Group developed and applied equity screening questions to the mitigation strategies discussed by the technical working groups.  A portion of that group’s funding also supported direct outreach surveying community members to inform their discussions and recommendations.  The facilitator worked directly with the Equity Working Group to craft the survey and compile results, and group participants that had the capacity to conduct surveys were compensated for their work.  That outreach was geographically targeted to Knoxville’s lower-income zip codes. The Equity Working group delivered recommendations to staff that generally assessed a strategy’s ability to advance potential equity outcomes. When setting final lists of priorities and presentation of strategy rankings in the Sustainability Work Plan, staff deferred to the recommendations of the Equity Working Group on strategies that were most likely to advance equity outcomes.  

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

Knoxville established the Climate Council Equity Working Group, which is actively participating in the city's climate planning processes.

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: August 2023

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

Knoxville formed an agreement with its local electric utility (KUB) to provide city property to host a 1 MW community solar array. The community solar program launched in April 2022. The city was the first subscriber and purchased 25% of shares for the first year to encourage support.

Last updated: August 2023

Adaptive Mitigation List All

Heat Island Mitigation Policies and Programs

The city has specific zones that require the use of low-impact development strategies, such as permeable pavement and cool roofs.

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: August 2023

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Workforce development for disadvantaged workers

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 disadvantaged communities to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

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: August 2023

Buildings Policies
Score: 8 out of 70 points
Building Energy CodesList All


As the state of Tennessee allows cities to adopt home-rule charters, the City of Knoxville holds jurisdiction over its city’s building energy code. The city adopted the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by ordinance for both commercial and residential properties. To learn more about Tennessee’s building energy code requirements, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties must adhere to the 2018 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for its commercial energy code is 49.5.


Residential properties must adhere to the 2018 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for its residential energy code is 57.75.

Solar-readiness policies

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

EV-readiness policies

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

Low-energy use requirements

We could not find information on whether the city sets low-energy use requirements for municipal or certain private buildings.

Electrification policies

We could not find information on whether the city has adopted any electrification policies.

Last Update: September 2023

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

We were unable to determine the amount of staff effort dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city verifies energy code compliance through plan reviews and site inspections. The city offers upfront support through training on building certifications and energy code updates, project discussion meetings and pre-submittal conferences for builders.

Last Update: September 2023

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


The city's Community Development Department offers financial assistance for residential improvements through the Blighted Properties Redevelopment Program. The department requires projects that receive funding from the program to achieve ENERGY STAR standards.

In 2023, Knoxville Utilities Board committed to providing $90,000 in funding over the next three years for SEEED’s Opportunity Knox program. Opportunity Knox is a collaboration between SEEED and the Solar Energy Loan Fund (SELF), which aims to foster energy efficiency, storm resilience, and sustainability through affordable housing repairs and upgrades in KUB’s service territory. 

Last Update: September 2023

Score: 11.5 out of 70 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Knoxville's Energy and Sustainability Work Plan was released in 2021 and includes sustainable transportation strategies. 

VMT/GHG Target and Stringency

The City of Knoxville does not have a codified VMT or transportation GHG reduction target. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

The City of Knoxville does not have a codified VMT or transportation GHG reduction target, and therefore cannot make progress toward the target. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

We were unable to find information indicating that the City of Knoxville 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

Knoxville has eliminated parking minimums in certain districts. 

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

The City of Knoxville does not have location-efficient development incentives or disclosure policies. 

Affordable Housing around Transit

The city incentivizes affordable housing near transit through an affordable rental deployment program aimed toward affordable housing developments near transit corridors. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The City of Knoxville does not have a codified mode share target. 

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

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

Subsidized Access to Efficient Transportation Options

We were unable to find information on programs or policies subsidizing access to efficient transportation for disadvantaged groups. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Knoxville have received $10,566,381.80 on average annually between 2017 and 2021 from local sources. That equates to roughly $55.55 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 Knoxville’s AllTransit Performance Score is 4.4, scoring 0 points in the City Scorecard. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

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

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Knoxville Utility Board offers $400 rebates to customers with single-family homes purchasing a level 2 home EV-charger.  

EV Charging Requirements

The City of Knoxville does not require new developments to install EV charging stations. 

EV Charging Locations

The City of Knoxville has 53.1 vehicle charging ports per 100,000 people available for public use. 

Electric School Bus Goal

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

EV Transit Bus Goal

Knoxville’s Office of Sustainability set a goal of transitioning 100% of its bus fleet to electric by 2050.

BONUS: Equitable EV Charging

Knoxville developed a site suitability mapping tool, which consider population density, car ownership, and environmental justice factors like air quality and public health hazards to inform placement of free EV charging stations.

Last Updated: September 2023

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Sustainable Freight Plans

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

Open Data Portals

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

Last Updated: September 2023

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 21 out of 40 points
Community Energy Infrastructure Summary List All

The Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), a municipally-owned utility (MOU), is the primary electric and natural gas utility for the City of Knoxville. The Tennessee Regulatory Authority sets the rates and services standards of the investor-owned natural gas, electric, and water utilities. The municipal energy utilities implement Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)-funded energy efficiency programs, which are outlined in the TVA Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Tennessee page of the State Database.

The Knoxville Utilities Board also provides the City of Knoxville with drinking water services and wastewater treatment, while the City provides stormwater management.

Last Updated: September 2023

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2021, according to TVA, KUB achieved 764 MWh of net electric savings at the meter. In 2021, TVA spent $27,840,838on energy efficiency programs which includes spending for KUB, Memphis Light, Gas, and Water, and Nashville Electric Service.

In 2021, we were unable to verify energy efficiency program spending and savings for KUB’s natural gas programs.

KUB offers electric and natural gas efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and business customers.

Last Updated: September 2023

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

KUB offers multiple low-income efficiency programs to best meet customer needs. KUB supports both electric and natural gas energy efficiency through its Round It Up program, which collects voluntary customer bill round-up contributions for low-income weatherization assistance. The program is administered by Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC), which administers a weatherization assistance program. 

KUB also partners with TVA on the Home Uplift Program to provide low-income weatherization services to additional customers. Home Uplift addresses home comfort and health and includes measures such as air sealing, duct sealing/replacement, attic insulation, water heater, and pipe insulation, wall insulation, HVAC clean and tune, HVAC replacement, windows and door replacement, heat pump water heaters, refrigerator replacement, LED bulbs, and low flow showerheads. The program is funded by TVA, KUB Budget Contributions, and TDEC grant, and is administered by CLEAResult.  In addition to weatherization programs, KUB also customers in need of immediate assistance utilize Bill Payment Assistance funds. 

In addition, both Home Uplift and Round It Up provide additional resources for health and safety measures such as bathroom fans for gas homes, occupant safety repairs, electrical repairs, mechanical repairs, structural repairs, plumbing repairs, and moisture repairs. In addition, CAC administers a lead safety program and emergency home repair program which can be leveraged in conjunction with Round It Up.

The program has had approximately $700,000 contributed annually. In addition to customer funds, starting in 2021 KUB committed to $1 Million in annual contributions to weatherization programs. These funds along with KUB’s partnership with TVA’s Home Uplift Program build upon the Round It Up program to weatherize additional homes for families in need. Home Uplift has provided over $2 million since 2018, and together with Round It Up, over 500 homes have been served in addition to the 1,278 homes served through the Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover from 2015 to 2017. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will provide $750,000 in 2021 and 2022 for weatherization in the KUB service area, and TVA will also provide an additional $75,000 to support the comfort and health benefits of weatherization.

As part of the City of Knoxville’s Smarter Cities Partnership, KUB works closely with community leaders and partners including the City of Knoxville, CAC, TVA, Alliance to Save Energy, Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) and others to develop, advertise, and implement the low-income weatherization assistance programs. In addition to weatherization assistance, KUB, in partnership with TVA, provides free home energy and water savings workshops to the community, with over 700 customers served since April 2019. Customers who attend the workshops receive free conservation kits, valued at more than $40.

In 2021, according TVA, KUB achieved 405 MWh an in energy savings through TVA programs, while spending $14,723,248 on electric low-income programs, which includes spending for KUB, Memphis Light, Gas, and Water, and Nashville Electric Service Programs. According to TVA, KUB served 176 customers in 2021. We were unable to verify the natural gas savings, spending, and customers served data in 2021 for KUB.

 Last updated: August 2023

Multifamily Programs

At this time, KUB and TVA do not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties.

Last Updated: July 2023

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Knoxville Utilities Board does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. However, KUB does provide an online data portal for customers to view and manage their utility consumption data.

KUB provides some community building energy usage data to support the city’s GHG inventories. This data was received in 2023 for the 2022 inventory

The City of Knoxville does not advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers or the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities.

Last Updated: September 2023

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Cities and Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2019, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the electric power provider of KUB, committed to achieving reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% reduction by 2030 and by 80% by 2035 from 2005 levels. To achieve this goal, TVA will need to reduce emissions by 3.6% annually from 2019 levels.

Clean Distributed Energy Resources 

Knoxville formed an agreement with its local electric utility (KUB) to provide city property to host a 1 MW community solar array. The community solar program launched in April 2022. The city was the first subscriber and purchased 25% of shares for the first year to encourage support. 

Municipal Renewable Energy Procurement 

The City of Knoxville has solar PV arrays onsite at 5 municipal facilities, capable of generating approximately 200 kW. Knoxville also purchases 25% of the power from a 1MW capacity offsite solar array.

City Renewable Energy Incentive and Financing Programs 

We could not find information on whether the city incentivizes the deployment of renewable energy systems. 

Last Updated: February 2024

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

KUB is the water utility in Knoxville and an EPA WaterSense partner. KUB, in partnership with TVA, is providing free energy and water conservation workshops to the community. KUB has presented workshops to over 800 customers since April 2019, and workshop attendees receive conservation kits valued at more than $40. The kits include water conservation measures. Additionally, through a current partnership with the City of Knoxville, CAC, and others, some water efficiency measures are being installed in some of the homes being weatherized through KUB’s Round It Up program.

At this point, the City of Knoxville has not established a water savings target or goal.

Water Plant Efficiency and Self-Generation

KUB has made significant investments to improve energy efficiency. Plant efficiency has been optimized with the installation of efficient equipment (e.g., variable frequency drives) and operational adjustments. KUB has had multiple energy assessments of its plants conducted by third parties. One such assessment was conducted by the State of Tennessee in 2015, and the results noted KUB’s plants are extremely efficient and there is little more that can be done to improve efficiency. Still, KUB strives for efficiency in its water and wastewater operations, and recent efforts include installing LED lighting, participating in TVA’s demand response program, improving aeration systems, and implementing advanced technology to prevent water loss.

In addition to water and energy conservation, KUB is a Platinum-level participant in the National Biosolids Partnership, through which all of the organic solids (approx. 33,000 wet tons per year) from the wastewater treatment process are certified as fertilizer by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and applied to regional farmlands at no cost to the farmers. An interdisciplinary team within KUB remains active in exploring additional efficiency opportunities. Implementation of data analytics software is scheduled to support efficiency efforts.

KUB’s Kuwahee (KUW) Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) produces approximately 359 MMBTU of biogas per day. Biogas is captured for direct use of two processes at the plant including mixing and heating sludge. Biogas used for the heating process is redirected away from the environment and provides an alternative to natural gas.

Last Updated: September 2023

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

The City of Knoxville Energy and Sustainability Initiative includes both municipal and community climate action initiatives.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Sustainability Work Plan includes a goal to reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. The City of Knoxville passed a resolution in 2019 calling for a municipal greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years' emissions data, ACEEE projects that the city will meet approximately 97% of its near-term GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal operations. 

Energy Reduction Goal

The city participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to reduce energy use in 2 million square feet of municipal buildings 20% below 2010 levels by 2022.

Renewable Energy Goal

We were unable to find information regarding a municipal renewable energy goal.

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Knoxville’s Fleet department has an internal 'Green Fleet' policy that prioritizes electric vehicles, hybrids, and high-MPG vehicles in purchasing processes. Knoxville’s fleet is composed of 1% efficient vehicles and included hybrid vehicles.  

Public Lighting

Knoxville has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. The city completed its streetlight retrofit in 2019 and 100% of streetlights have been converted to LED. 

Inclusive procurement

Knoxville sets DBE procurement goals by department, targeting small businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, and more. The City encourages companies that bid for projects to commit to subcontracting goods or services to DBE businesses. When Knoxville requested bids to retrofit streetlights with LEDs, they selected a contractor that partnered with a small, local business with minority owners. Knoxville published a disparity study in 2023. 

Last updated: February 2024

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

The City benchmarks energy use in all municipal buildings using a combination of B3 Benchmarking platform and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  Energy use is monitored regularly, and 87 facilities totaling over 2 million square feet are analyzed every year for progress towards the City's Better Buildings Challenge target.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

While we were unable to confirm if Knoxville has a comprehensive retrofit strategy, the City's Office of Sustainability continually monitors building energy performance and works with facilities to identify opportunities for improvements and deploy solutions. The Office began calculating municipal GHG inventories on an annual basis in 2021, and also began splitting energy/emissions data into departments to facilitate conversations around energy management and reduction opportunities. The City's Office of Sustainability created a Sustainable Innovation Fund in 2020 to augment facility energy efficiency improvements and provide staff training. The fund totals $500,000 over 5 years.

Municipal Employee Transportation Benefits

Knoxville offers a free monthly bus pass to employees. The City calculates emissions from employee commutes in its annual Municipal Emissions Inventory.

Last update: February 2024