State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Knoxville, TN

Scored out of 100Updated
Local Government Score:
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 Energy and Sustainability Initiative states a goal to reduce municipal emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020. To meet this goal, the city must reduce per capita emissions by 1.1% annually. Knoxville is on track to be within 25% of its goal.

Energy Reduction Goal

The city participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to reduce energy use 20% below 2010 levels by 2022.

Renewable Energy Goal

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

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction 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 0.1% 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 is currently retrofitting all 29,500+ streetlights to LED. Approximately 10% have been converted as of December, 2018. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

New Buildings

Knoxville’s building construction policy requires all new municipal buildings to meet ENERGY STAR or LEED certification.

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting 

Knoxville benchmarks all municipal buildings using a combination of B3 Benchmarking platform and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The City does not disclose individual building performance publicly, but does share overall building performance as a part of the Better Buildings Challenge.

Public Employees

Knoxville does not have a telework or flexible schedule policy for City employees.

Last updated: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
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: March 2019

Climate Action and Energy Planning GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city’s Energy and Sustainability Work Plan set a goal to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020.

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.

Energy Data Reporting

The city has included some community energy data in its greenhouse gas inventories from 2009, 2014, and 2017.

Last updated: March 2019

Equitable Climate Action and Energy Planning List All

Equitable Community Outreach

The city did not increase its outreach to marginalized groups relative to other city constituencies in the planning and implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Equitable Decision-Making

The city has not created a formal role for local organizations representing low-income or communities of color to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan. 

Accountability to Equity

The city has not established goals or published methods for tracking how energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are reversing any ongoing actions that disadvantage marginalized residents.

Last updated: March 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

Through the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Providers Program, the city has installed 90 kW and 50 kW systems and maintains two other solar systems.

Last updated: March 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The city has a private tree protection ordinance, but excludes single family dwellings and duplexes.

Last updated: March 2019

Buildings Policies
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Knoxville has 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: March 2019

Stringency of 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 2012 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 2012 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 59.2.


Residential properties must adhere to the 2012 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 70.5.

Solar- and EV-ready

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

Last updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

The city does not staff any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city has not made plan reviews, site inspections, nor performance testing mandatory for energy code compliance. The city offers upfront support through pre-submittal conferences.

Last updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Knoxville offers two incentives for energy efficiency upgrades.

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.

Last updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

Knoxville does not require building developments perform additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last updated: March 2019

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: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Knoxville does not have a 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

Energy & Water Utilities
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, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, according to KUB and TVA, KUB achieved 10,590 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.20% of its retail sales. In 2017, KUB did not report savings on natural gas efficiency programs. 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.

TVA and the City of Knoxville partnered to provide low income weatherization from 2015-2017 through the Extreme Energy Makeover. In 2017, 444 homes were upgraded with a savings of 2,061 MWh savings. Participants were qualified using 80% AMI income limits.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

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

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

In 2018, TVA produced 13% of its total generation from renewable sources.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

In 2015, KUB implemented Round It Up, which allows KUB customers to voluntarily participate in having their bills rounded up to the next dollar. KUB sends 100 percent of the customer contributions to the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC), who administers a weatherization assistance program. Additionally, KUB and other partners received a $15 million grant from TVA in 2015 for the Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover (KEEM). With KEEM, 1,278 homes were weatherized for low-income customers in two years. As part of the City of Knoxville’s Smarter Cities Partnership, KUB works closely with community leaders and partners including 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 2018, TVA provided additional funding for the Home Uplift pilot program in support of Round It Up. With $1 million of funding over two years, Home Uplift will double the number of homes that can be weatherized through the Round It Up program. TVA, KUB and other partners are currently working to acquire other sources of funding for Home Uplift. In 2017, according to KUB and TVA, KUB achieved 1,878 MWh in energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 4,26 customers.

Multifamily Programs

At this time, KUB does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at multifamily properties.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

KUB does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. At this time, 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: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The energy and water utilities do not offer joint energy and water efficiency programs. At this point, the City of Knoxville has not established a water savings target or goal.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The water utility has not set specific energy efficiency targets or strategies. The city’s water system does not self-generate its own energy.

Last Updated: March 2019

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The City of Knoxville has not set a standalone VMT reduction target as part of its GHG reduction strategy.

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

We could not determine if the City requires transit-oriented development, compact or mixed land use development, street connectivity, or form-based zoning, nor if the City’s current zoning code has overlays that target the above types of development in specific neighborhoods.

Residential Parking Policies

At this time, parking minimums still remain in place in Knoxville.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

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

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

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

Car Sharing

Sec 17-308 of Knoxville’s Parking Ordinance allows for the signing of car-sharing vehicles dedicated parking.

Bike Sharing

The City of Knoxville has an exclusive bikeshare provider that is allowed access to City real estate and sidewalks. With approval, they are permitted to install bike share kiosks and docking stations to support the development of the bike share service. Pace Bikeshare also operates a dockless system in Knoxville. Kiosks and stations are provided and maintained for customer convenience, but users are free to depart their ride at any bike rack.

Last Updated: March 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The KAT transit system that serves Knoxville has received $14,456,010.20 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $16.76 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the lowest category ($0-19) 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 Knoxville’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 4.1, putting it in the lowest category (0-4.99) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2019

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

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

EV Charging Locations

The City owns 44 charging stations available for public use.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Knoxville 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 List All

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income Transportation AccessList 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.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

In the City of Knoxville, 76% of low-income households have access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: March 2019