State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Memphis, TN

20.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
0.5 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Memphis's Climate Action Plan was adopted in 2021. The Sustainable Shelby Plan includes a broad range of sustainability and economic development policy objections for the City of Memphis.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Climate Action Plan includes goals to reduce emissions from municipal buildings and fleet using a 2016 baseline. The goals are 55% in buildings and 45% in fleet by 2035, and 80% in buildings and 80% in fleet by 2050. 

Energy Reduction Goal

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

Renewable Energy Goal

We were unable to find information on a renewable energy goal for municipal operations.

Last updated: June 2021

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Memphis is considering policies and strategies for transitioning to a more efficient, cleaner fleet with an increased number of electric and alternative fuel vehicles. The City’s fleet is composed of 3.0% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. 

Public Lighting

Memphis has not yet adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance.  Streetlights are operated by the local electricity utility, MLGW, and are scheduled to operate only during the hours when they are needed. MLGW has implemented two LED streetlight programs and the city’s Climate Action Plan recommends replacing all streetlights to LED by 2030.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

We were unable to find information regarding onsite or offsite renewable energy systems in Memphis.

Inclusive procurement

We were unable to verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability currently tracks energy use for all Shelby County buildings and is working to incorporate City of Memphis buildings into their energy management software.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

Shelby County requires that all capital improvement projects conduct cost analysis. The County recently completed large-scale retrofits for two office buildings downtown (Vasco Smith Administration Building in 2015 and Shelby County Office Building/157 Poplar in 2011) that incorporated upgrades to multiple systems (HVAC, replacement of electrical infrastructure, window replacement, boiler plant replacement). The City of Memphis is investing in LED retrofits for some fire stations and is working with an energy performance contractor to renovate City Hall to make it more efficient. The energy performance contracting approach may be applied to other city facilities in addition to City Hall.

Last updated: June 2021

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 1.5 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

Memphis and Shelby County released the Climate Action Plan in 2019. The joint Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability releases annual reports on progress towards broadly defined energy and climate goals in the Sustainable Shelby Plan. The plan has not yet been officially adopted by the City Council. 

Last updated: June 2020

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The draft Memphis Climate Action Plan includes a greenhouse gas reduction goal of 71% below 2016 levels by 2050, with interim reduction goals of 15% below 2016 levels by 2020 and 51% below 2016 levels by 2035. The city and county have released one greenhouse gas inventory using 2016 data.

Energy Reduction Goal

The draft Climate Action Plan includes a goal to reduce commercial and residential electricity use by 10% or more, but the goal does not have a target date.

Renewable Energy Goal

The draft Climate Action Plan includes goals to increase carbon-free electricity generation to 75% by 2035 and 100% by 2050. 

Energy Data Reporting

The municipal utility’s annual reports includes community-wide energy data.  

Last updated: September 2020

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

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

Last updated: March 2020

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

The Memphis and Shelby County Climate Action Plan includes a goal to increase urban tree canopy coverage to 60% countywide by 2050. In the Sustainable Shelby Plan, Memphis and Shelby County have stated goals to develop an urban forestry program, hire a fulltime urban forester to audit the current system, develop a tree master plan, and create an initiative to plant 5,000 street trees per year.

UHI Policies and Programs

Though it has not yet been used to inform specific policies or programs, in late 2014, Memphis completed a regional tree canopy study with the University of Memphis and the Wolf River Conservancy. In 2015, the city also adopted the regional Greenprint plan that establishes a unified vision for a region-wide network of greenspaces.

Last updated: August 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 7 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Memphis is a home rule city and adopts its own building energy code. The city has not adopted a benchmarking and disclosure policy. The city offers incentives for energy efficiency and solar energy projects, particularly for low-income property owners.

Last updated: September 2020

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Tennessee allows cities to adopt home rule charters by local referendum, as the City of Memphis did. Thus, the city adopts and enforces its own building energy codes. Memphis and Shelby County recently adopted the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) with local amendments. To learn more about Tennessee’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties must comply with 2015 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 52.7.


Residential properties must comply with 2015 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 57.6.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV-ready.

Last updated: September 2020

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Memphis does not staff full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city verifies energy code compliance through plan reviews and site inspections. The city does not provide upfront support to developers and/or owners for energy code compliance.

Last updated: September 2020

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


MLGW, the city’s municipal utility, administers the Share the Pennies program to provide low-income homeowners with grants to make energy efficiency improvements.

The utility also runs the Rental Rescue program to provide renters with free energy audits to ensure properties are up to code on energy efficiency standards.

MLGW offers businesses and organizations seeking LEED certification additional incentive funds.

The Downtowm Memphis Commisssion program offers the option of longer tax abatement periods for projects that are LEED certified, attain Net Zero Energy Building certification, or attain MLGW’s EcoBUILD certification.

Last updated: September 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

We could not verify if the city has programs committed to developing a dedicated energy efficiency and/or renewable energy workforce.

Last updated: September 2020

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 3 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) is the municipal utility which provides electricity, natural gas, and drinking water to the City of Memphis. 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 Department of Public Works is the municipal utility that provides wastewater treatment and stormwater management services for Memphis.

Last Updated: March 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, according to TVA, MLGW achieved 6,809 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 0.05% of retail sales. In 2018, MLGW had no savings from natural gas efficiency programs. We could not confirm MLGW’s spending for 2018.

MLGW offers natural gas and electric efficiency tools and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

The city and county have partnered with MLGW and TVA to develop the Mayor’s Energy Challenge, which established a $10 million low-interest loan fund for commercial energy efficiency projects, promoted the My Account tool through MLGW, and prompted many assessment programs, calculators, and other tools to bring energy efficiency to Memphis.

Last Updated: March 2020

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

MLGW implementation of Share the Pennies program to provide home weatherization grants for low income qualified residential customers. This program provides the necessary capital and labor to make repairs to improve the energy efficiency of customers’ homes. Repairs include AC condenser replacement, attic access hatches, attic insulation, duct replacement, furnace replacement, leaks (gas and water), water heater replacement, window and door replacement, and health and safety improvements. Share the Pennies is funded by donations from rounding utility bills and sponsored by the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association and MLG The program works with the local nonprofit, Metropolitan Inter-faith Association (MIFA), on implementation, and also partners with other local nonprofit groups on program design and uptake, such as the Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 2018, according to MLGW, it achieved 564 MWh in energy savings and served 129. TVA served 247 MLGW customers in 2018.

Multifamily Programs

MLGW offers the Energy Advantage Apartments Certification Program. This program ensures that newly constructed apartments in Shelby County are as energy efficient as dwellings built to MLGW's EcoBUILD standards for homes. MLGW works with apartment developers to simulate energy usage given specifications on heating and cooling equipment, windows, building envelope, and other equipment in the units. If the simulation shows efficiency equal to or greater than current EcoBUILD standards, the complex can qualify for rebates from TVA through this pilot program. The rebates encourage developers to specify heat pumps or gas furnaces, rather than typical electric resistance heaters.

MLGW spend $32,450 on its multifamily program and served 94 customers in 2018.

Last Updated: March 2020

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Memphis Light, Gas & Water does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. The City of Memphis 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 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, neither MLGW nor TVA provided 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 12% of its total generation from renewable sources.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

While the MLGW programs focus on energy efficiency, water efficiency is included in My Account analytics and self-audits, low-income repairs, and customer communications to help preserve and protect the aquifer system. The Energy Education webpage includes information on both energy and water efficiency.

The City of Memphis does not have a water efficiency goal.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

In 2013, the City of Memphis’s two wastewater treatment plants enrolled in the TVA-EnerNOC Demand Response Program. Under this program, the city receives recurring payments from TVA in return for agreeing to reduce electricity consumption in response to abnormally high electricity demand. Combined the plants reduce consumption by 9,000 kW and receive an annual payment of roughly $154,000 for participating. In 2019, the City received $80,000 in payments for maintaining reserve capacity to curtail and for actually curtailing when called upon.

Both of the city’s wastewater treatment facilities supply biogas to the water utility for use on-site.

Last Updated: March 2020

Score: 8 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the City of Memphis is the Memphis Area Transit Authority. MATA also provides the public transportation for the city and the broader metropolitan area, including bus and trolley service. The Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is the MPO in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning. Its area of jurisdiction encompasses Memphis, and many surrounding cities and towns. The Department of Public Works is the city agency charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Memphis does not yet have a sustainable transportation plan in place.

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 2020

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

Memphis adopted a Unified Development Code in 2010 that incorporates form-based elements and overlays to encourage mixed-use development. The Memphis 3.0 Plan also encourages compact development, greater connectivity, and mixed-use development as priorities moving forward.

Residential Parking Policies

The City removes minimum off-street parking requirements for certain areas of the city.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

The Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive Plan encourages compact and mixed-use development, but no formal incentives are codified.

Last Updated: March 2020

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

The City of Memphis Bikeway and Pedestrian program monitors and estimates emissions saved based on numbers of miles traveled, and is seeking to measure mode shift in the future.

Complete Streets

Memphis adopted its Complete Streets Policy through executive order in 2013.

Car Sharing

There is a car sharing program currently available to the residents and visitors of Memphis, zipcar. 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

The Explore Bike Share system launched in Memphis in May of 2018. 600 bikes are currently available at 60 stations, and there is funding allocated to expand the system to a total of 900 bikes and 90 stations by 2020. Explore Bike Share is reducing the fleet slightly for winter months, but for April to June roughly 600 bicycles and 300 e-bikes (electric assist) are available.  Expansions are also planned for areas in the city surrounding new bike infrastructure (such as Binghampton and University of Memphis).  Downtown and Medical District areas have also seen an increased density of bike share docking stations over the past year.               


Last Updated: May 2020

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that service the City of Memphis has received $62,402,165 on average annually between 2014 and 2018. That equates to roughly $46.20 per capita between 2014 and 2018 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 Akron’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 4.1, scoring 0 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: March 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, Memphis 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 has 31 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 4.765 stations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

At this time, the City of Memphis 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 2020

Freight System EfficiencyList All

The Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MP0), the regional freight network, has completed a regional freight plan that will address freight needs and issues in a comprehensive fashion.

Last Updated: March 2020

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

The Memphis 3.0 Plan is now complete and includes policies and strategies related to creating and preserving affordable housing in transit-served and TOD areas.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Explore Bike Share offers a Pay-It-Forward membership that provides an annual membership to the purchaser as well as to a fellow Memphian in need of affordable transportation options. The Transit vision of the cities Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive Plan  also targets equitable transportation solutions.

Last Updated: March 2020