State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Memphis, TN

18.50Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
1 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The Sustainable Shelby Plan includes a broad range of sustainability and economic development policy objections for the City of Memphis.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

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

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

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. There are currently no programs for outdoor lighting replacement in this city.

Green Building Requirements

We were unable to find information regarding the adoption of a green building policy in Memphis, but the City is currently considering a green building policy for municipal buildings as part of the climate action planning process. 

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

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. 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.

Public Workforce Commuting

We could not find data on policies to reduce the commutes of city workers, such as flex schedules and teleworking.

Last updated: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 0.5 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

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 City of Memphis and Shelby County are currently developing the area’s first climate action plan.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

Memphis does not have a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal. The city and county have released one greenhouse gas inventory using 2016 data.

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.

Energy Data Reporting

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

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to 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: June 2019

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: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

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. 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: June 2019

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: March 2019

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: June 2019

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: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Memphis 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

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

The city offers three incentives for solar energy and low-income energy projects.

Through cooperation with Pathway Lending, property owners may access low-interest loans for renewable energy projects.

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.

Last updated: July 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

Memphis has not adopted a policy requiring building owners to conduct any additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last updated: March 2019

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: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 4 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 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, according to TVA and MLGW, MLGW achieved 1,441 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 0.01% of retail sales. In 2017, MLGW did not report savings on natural gas efficiency programs. 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 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

MLGW implements Project CARE for the benefit of qualified low-income residential customers. This program provides the necessary capital (up to $1,500) and labor to make repairs to the residences of elderly and physically challenged customers in order to reduce their energy consumption. 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. Project CARE is funded by donations made through Share the Pennies sponsored by the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association and MLGW. 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 2017, according to MLGW, the program served 126 customers. Savings data was not available.

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. This program served 661 customers in 2017, and savings data was not available.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) does not provide building owners and managers with automatic benchmarking data for use in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Currently, the City does not advocate for policy improvements in data provision by utilities.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, MLGW 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

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 6 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 2019

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.

Residential Parking Policies

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

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

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.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The MATA transit system that serves Memphis received $24,703,700.80 in average annual funding from 2013-2017. This funding level is $18.38 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. Memphis’ 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, 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 owns 28 charging stations available for public use.

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 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

We could not confirm if it was completed, but the Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MP0), the regional freight network, is working on a regional freight plan that will address freight needs and issues in a comprehensive fashion.

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Memphis does not have any requirements or incentives in place to encourage the development or preservation of affordable housing in transit-served areas. The City’s under-development Comprehensive Plan – Memphis 3.0 – will include policies and strategies related to creating and preserving affordable housing in transit-served/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.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

At this time, the City of Memphis does not provide low-income households with access to high-quality transit.

Last Updated: April 2019