State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Knoxville, TN

29.00Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 4.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Knoxville developed the Energy and Sustainability Work Plan to guide its community-wide sustainability initiatives.

Last updated: September 2021

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 not 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: September 2021

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: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

The city has not adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: September 2021

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

We could not verify if the city has adopted a quantifiable urban heat island mitigation goal.

UHI Policies and Programs

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

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 5.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Knoxville has the authority to adopt building energy codes. The city offers upfront support to building owners and developers. The city does not have a benchmarking and disclosure policy. Knoxville offers residential and commercial property owners incentives for energy efficiency retrofits.

Last updated: June 2021

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 51.6.


Residential properties must adhere to the 2018 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for its residential energy code is 66.4.

Solar-readiness policies

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

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure 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.

Last updated: October 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

The city does not staff any full-time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city verifies energy code compliance through plan reviews. The city offers upfront support through training on building certifications and energy code updates.

Last updated: June 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


Residential and commercial property owners may access tax increment financing for retrofits if they qualify. The city favors projects that achieve an energy-savings certification. 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.

Last updated: June 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee offers training for contractors that work to install energy-saving measures on properties as part of its Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover program.

Last updated: June 2021

Score: 8 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The City of Knoxville addresses transportation efficiency in its Energy and Sustainability Work 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: November 2021

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The City has two form-based code districts: the South Waterfront and Cumberland Avenue.

Residential Parking Policies

The City's central business district has no off-street parking requirements.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

There are no incentives available through the City to promote location efficiency.

Last Updated: November 2021

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

At this time, the City does not have a codified mode share target for trips within the city.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

No progress has been achieved, as there are no targets in place.

Complete Streets

Knoxville adopted its complete streets policy in 2014 through Ordinance No. O-204-2014.

Last Updated: November 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that service Knoxville has received $14,348,270.00 on average annually between 2015 and 2019. That equates to roughly $76.52 per capita between 2015 and 2019 within the Transit Authority's service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The Transit Connectivity Index measures transit service levels. It is based on the number of bus routes and train stations within walking distance for households scaled by frequency of service. The City of Knoxville’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 4.4, scoring 0 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: November 2021

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

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

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Knoxville Utilities Board offers rebate incentives for the installation of residential EV charging infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 118 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 62.9 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

Knoxville does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

Knoxville does not have an EV transit bus goal.

Last Updated: November 2021

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Knoxville does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place, nor does it have any policies that address freight efficiency.

Last Updated: November 2021

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

The City of Knoxville has established an affordable rental development fund in the initial amount of $2 million for the creation of new affordable and workforce rental housing. This fund is in response to the need for standard rental units that are affordable to low- and moderate-income renters. Knoxville has lost hundreds of affordable units over the last few years while at the same time market rents have been steadily climbing. In an effort to increase the supply and long-term availability of rental housing options for persons with modest incomes, this fund has been created to incentivize the development of quality affordable rental housing. Proximity to public transportation is one of the funding priorities.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Knoxville does not currently provide rebates or incentives to low-income residents for efficient transportation options.

Last Updated: November 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 7 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities 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: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, according to KUB and TVA, KUB achieved 1,583 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.06% of its retail sales. In 2018, KUB spent $1,861,697 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 0.34% of its retail revenue.

In 2019, KUB did not report natural gas savings. In 2019, KUB spent $701,667 on natural gas energy efficiency, which equates to $7.49 per residential customer. These savings figures cover the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not just Knoxville.

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

Last Updated: July 2021

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 2019, according to KUB and TVA, KUB achieved 175 MWh in energy savings through KUB and TVA programs, while spending $1,821,667 and $701,667 on electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively, and served 141 electric and 93 natural gas customers. Natural gas savings were not available.

Multifamily Programs

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

Last Updated: July 2021

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. The City has included some community energy data in its 2009, 2014, and 2017 GHG inventories.

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: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of 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.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

In 2019, TVA emitted 5.7 metric tons of CO2 per capita.

Last Updated: July 2021

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: August 2021

Local Government Score:
4 out of 10 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 Green Fleet Policy requires the City to consider fuel efficiency when purchasing new vehicles. The Green Fleet Policy was developed in 2011. Knoxville’s fleet is composed of 1.2% 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 all streetlights have been converted to LED.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems  

The City has solar PV arrays onsite at 5 municipal facilities, capable of generating approximately 210 kW.

Inclusive procurement

The City prioritizes diversity in procurement and contracting related to energy use by encouraging Small, Minority-, Women-, Service-Disabled, and Veteran-Owned business participation in the procurement process. In 2017, the City set a goal to conduct 3.33% of its business with minority-owned businesses, 9.21% of its business with women-owned businesses, and 45.5% with small businesses. That year, the City pursued a streetlight retrofit project and named engagement with diverse business enterprises as one of 7 evaluation criteria in the selection of a contractor.

Last updated: June 2021

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

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.

Last updated: June 2021