State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Madison, WI

Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
11.5 out of 15 points
Local Government Summary List All

The Madison Sustainability Plan describes the city’s energy-related goals and strategies for its internal government operations.  Madison’s primary focus is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from municipal buildings and reducing vehicle emissions from the municipal vehicle fleet.

Last updated: October 2013

Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The Madison Sustainability Plan calls for municipal operations to achieve the same goal as the community, namely an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2008 levels, and has specific actions to reduce emissions in city operations.  The Madison Common Council adopted the sustainability plan in May 2012 by City Resolution 21481.  We did not collect information on the extent to which formal agency stakeholder groups were involved in setting the goal.

Last updated: October 2013

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Madison’s Policy for the Acquisition of Energy Efficient and Safe Vehicles details energy efficiency requirements for future fleet purchases.  The policy also includes right-sizing and anti-idling policies within the policy.  Madison has worked with MGE to install ten electric-vehicle charging stations in city parks and parking ramps.

Public Lighting

We did not have find information regarding efficiency requirements for public outdoor lighting, but Madison has retrofitted parking lots and some streetlights (those not owned by the local utility).  Streetlight do have photo sensors so they only operate when necessary.

New Buildings and Equipment

The Madison Common Council passed a resolution that requires all new and remodeled buildings to meet LEED Silver standards and the city’s Design Guidelines emphasize energy efficiency.  Madison’s Policy for the Procurement & Disposal of Electronic Products and Policy for the Purchase of Printers, Faxes, Copiers, Paper, and Toner both require the city to take energy efficiency into account when making purchases.      

Last updated: October 2013

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

Madison benchmarks 53 large buildings out of 300 total facilities; the 53 buildings represent the majority of the government’s energy use.  In terms of an energy performance strategy, it is the part of the maintenance staff’s tasks to look for building retrofit opportunities.  If projects are estimated to have a 10 year payback, Madison may pursue the project. 

Public Employees

Madison has policies in place permitting both teleworking and flexible schedules.

Last updated: October 2013

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 7.5 out of 10 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

Madison’s Facilities and Sustainability Team leads the city’s implementation of its community-wide energy efficiency initiatives. The city has adopted community-wide energy-related goals and has robust efficient distributed energy systems.   

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

The Madison Sustainability Plan was adopted by the Madison Common Council in May 2012 by City Resolution 21481.  It sets goals to both reduce Madison’s community-wide carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and actively involve 20% of Madison residents in energy efficiency and climate change programs by 2030.  We did not collect information on the extent of stakeholder involvement in the setting of goals.

Last updated: October 2013

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with 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: March 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

There are four district energy systems serving Madison, but we could not locate information on the systems’ capacities.  Madison’s combined heat and power capacity is 187,600 kW, meaning that the CHP capacity per 100,000 residents is 80.4 MW.  One of the district energy systems integrates with CHP.

Last updated: October 2013

Mitigation of Urban 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 of Madison installs green infrastructure, including rain gardens, and trees on medians and terraces during street construction.  Madison also has a policy in place to protect mature trees and encourages green roofs on private development. 

Last updated: October 2013

Buildings Policies
Score: 12.5 out of 29 points
Buildings Summary List All

Madison has some building sector initiatives to improve efficiency including an energy savings target, residential and commercial efficiency incentives, and upfront code support. The Building Inspection Unit manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Madison.

Last Updated: October 2013

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All

The State of Wisconsin requires local jurisdictions to follow the state building codes. Residential construction must follow the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code, which references the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). Commercial construction must follow the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code, which references the 2009 IECC. To learn more about Wisconsin’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial construction in Madison complies with the Wisconsin Commercial Building Code. The City of Madison advocates for more stringent energy codes. The City of Madison’s Building Inspection Unit has a representative that sits on the State Building Code and State Energy Code committees. The City also lobbies through Code Council groups to provide feedback on potential changes.


Residential construction in Madison complies with the Wisconsin Uniform Dwelling Code. The City of Madison advocates for more stringent energy codes. The City of Madison, Building Inspection Unit has a representative that sits on the State Building Code and State Energy Code committees. The City also lobbies through Code Council groups to provide feedback on potential changes.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Madison reported a budget of $4,066,479 for the building code department in 2012. This level of spending normalizes to $24.95 per $1,000 of residential construction spending for the city. Madison has not made third-party plan review or performance testing mandatory for code compliance, nor has it established either as a voluntary code compliance option. Madison offers contractor training with continuing education credits as upfront code support.

Last Updated: October 2013

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Madison does not have mandatory or voluntary programs to encourage building benchmarking in any sector. The MLS which serves the Madison area does not include fields for energy efficiency features.

Last Updated: October 2013

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Building Energy Savings Goals

Madison has set the goal to reduce energy consumption across all building stock by 50% from the 2008 baseline by 2030. This goal is outlined in the Sustainability Plan.

Green Building Requirements

Madison has not yet established above-code building requirements for any class of building.

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Madison does not yet require commercial or residential buildings to take energy efficiency actions such as energy audits or retro-commissioning.  

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Green Madison offers commercial property owners rebates and financing. Residential property owners are offered rebates and low interest energy efficiency financing for approved projects.

Last Updated: October 2013

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 8.5 out of 18 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU), is the primary electric and natural gas utility serving the city of Madison. The State of Wisconsin requires spending and savings targets for its electric and natural gas utilities through a PSC act. The utilities pool their required spending totals into the Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration (SEERA) which contracts out for companies to administer the energy efficiency programs. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Wisconsin page of the State Database.

The Madison Water Utility is the municipal utility which provides drinking water, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management services to the City of Madison.

Last Updated: October 2015

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

According to EIA, in 2011, MGE spent $1,717,000 on electric efficiency programs, representing 0.45% of its annual revenue. Due to these programs, MGE reported a net incremental electricity savings of 35,349MWh, representing 1.05% of its retail sales. MGE either did not spend or did not publish spending figures specific to natural gas sales. Spending on electricity represented in this section covers the entire Wisconsin service territory, not just Madison. MGE offers natural gas and electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

To promote energy efficiency programs, the City of Madison includes MGE flyers in Water Utility Billings, as well as partnered on Green Madison through October 2013 and currently partners with Mpower, a community-wide effort to be more energy efficient.

Last Updated: October 2015

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, MGE makes use of the My Account data sharing platform. MGE automatically uploads whole-building utility information into Energy Cap and Energy Stewards, the benchmarking softwares most commonly used in Madison. The City of Madison receives a total amount of electrical and gas usage across the city, which they use to develop carbon inventories for the Community. This information is not publically available yet. At this point, the City of Madison supports resolution 34565 which authorizes city intervention in MGE's rate case before the Wisconsin PSC in which MGE sought to hike the base charge of electricity. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

The Madison Water Utility has established the goal to reduce per capita water consumption by 20% by 2020. To reach this goal, the utility offers rebates to residential customers who replace one inefficient toilet with an EPA WaterSense-rated High Efficiency Toilet (HET). The Madison Water Utility is installing smart water meters. When the smart metering is complete, the utility is planning on pursuing a water conservation rate structure. 

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

Though Madison has not yet established a target for reducing energy usage in municipal water services operations, The Madison Water Utility is working with University of Wisconsin on pumping strategies to lower energy use - based on intensity of pumping and the height the water needs to be moved. The Water utility upgraded customer water meters to a wireless technology network that saves energy by eliminating trips to read meters. The Madison wastewater treatment plant captures and reuses heat on-site.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The Stormwater Commission has established numerous requirements for newly developed areas for stormwater management such as new parking lots and bioswales. Madison budgeted $80,000 annually to meet goal of installing 1,000 rain gardens on public and private land. 

Last Updated: October 2015

Score: 13.5 out of 28 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the city of Madison is The Metro Transit System. MTS also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus service. The Capital Area Regional Planning Commission is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Madison and many surrounding towns. The Department of Public Works is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last Updated: October 2015

Location Efficiency List All

Madison’s Comprehensive Plan includes the zoning code to encourage location-efficient development applied to the whole city. Madison's zoning code, adopted in 2013, removes parking minimums in 12 districts. Madison adopted its Complete Streets Policy in 2009. The adoption of the guidelines encourages the inclusion of complete streets principles in all road construction and maintenance projects. As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, Madison allows reduced parking requirements for infill and redevelopment projects.

Last Updated: October 2015

Mode Shift List All

Transportation and Land Use Planning

Madison has not yet written or implemented a policy to encourage improved integration of transportation and land use planning such as a VMT reduction or mode share target.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There is a car sharing program currently available to the residents and visitors of Madison, Community Car. The city is served by a bikesharing program, Madison B-cycle with over 30 operable stations.

Transportation Demand Management Programs

To reduce the frequency of single-occupancy trips, Madison Metro Transit works with area businesses to provide unlimited metro-transit passes for the businesses employees.  Also, the Rideshare, etc. website facilities carpooling among residents of the city.

Last Updated: October 2015

Transit List All

We did not locate Madison's transit and city highway funding data. 

The Transit Connectivity Index measures how many transit rides are available per week within walking distance from the average household. The City of Madison’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 15,482, putting it in a high mid-range category (10,000 - 20,000) available in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: October 2015

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, Madison does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. There are no incentives available for the construction of commercial or private EV charging infrastructure. Madison does however, have 27 EV charging stations that are available to all Madison Gas and Electric customers.

Madison prohibits the idling of all trucks for longer than 15 minutes. Madison is an active participant with the Dane County Clean Air Coalition, which works to reduce petroleum use in all transportation across the region.

Last Updated: October 2015

Freight System EfficiencyList All

There are no intermodal freight facilities within the city of Madison’s boundaries. 

Last Updated: October 2015