State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Memphis, TN

18.50Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
2 out of 10 points
Local Government Summary List All

The Sustainable Shelby Implementation Plan, released in 2009, lays out a broad range of environmental and economic development objectives for both Memphis and Shelby County. The plan also describes energy-related initiatives for Memphis’s local government operations, including reducing energy use in municipal facilities and creating more sustainable public procurement policies for equipment. The Office of Sustainability is responsible for overseeing these energy initiatives both within Memphis and Shelby County. In 2015, the city committed to the Compact of Mayors and will set reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and complete a climate action plan by 2018.

Last updated: February 2017

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

The Sustainable Shelby Implementation Plan discusses initiatives for local government operations, but it does not set energy-related goals for local government operations. The recently announced Memphis Clean and Green Initiative aims to reduce municipal energy costs by 20% annually within five years by increasing energy efficiency in municipal buildings. In 2015, the city committed to the Compact of Mayors and the Office of Sustainability is currently completing an inventory of community-wide greenhouse gas emissions. As part of complying with this commitment, the city will set reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and complete a climate action plan by 2018. Local government energy efficiency goals and emissions reduction targets will likely be included in this plan.






As the city completes local government efficiency initiatives from the Sustainable Shelby Plan, their status is tracked on the plan’s website

Last updated: January 2017

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

Memphis does not have specific fuel efficiency requirements for its public fleet. However, in late 2014, the Memphis Bioworks Foundation completed an inventory of public fleets in the Memphis area and created a plan for gradual replacement of the existing fleet with alternatively fueled and energy efficient vehicles. The plan is scheduled to begin operating in the city of Memphis this coming year. Currently, only the Shelby County incorporates GPS technologies to increase public fleet efficiency in this city.

Note: For local fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing fleet efficiency. Local alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

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.

New Buildings and Equipment

Memphis does not have energy efficiency requirements for public buildings. The Sustainably Shelby Plan has a goal to revise procurement policies to include consideration of lifetime cost of goods, services, and equipment, but it is unclear if the policies have been revised yet.

Last updated: April 2017

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

The City of Memphis currently tracks energy use in 52 public facilities and 38 county facilities using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  This City tracks energy use in 99% of the square footage of building space owned by Shelby County Schools. There is no comprehensive retrofit strategy in place in Memphis.

Public Employees

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

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 1 out of 12 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability leads the city’s implementation of its community-wide energy efficiency initiatives.

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Energy Efficiency GoalsList All

In 2015, the city committed to the Compact of Mayors and is currently completing an inventory of community-wide greenhouse gas emissions. As part of complying with this commitment, the city will set reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and complete a climate action plan by 2018.

A community driven goal of creating 800 MW of renewable energy and energy savings through energy efficiency by 2020 was endorsed by some in Memphis and Shelby County, but the city has not yet identified or implemented a community-wide energy efficiency-related target.

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.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient Distributed Energy Systems - District Energy and Combined Heat and PowerList All

We did not find information on any programs or policies to plan for future district energy systems.

Last updated: January 2017

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.

We did not find information on any policies that require or incentivize low impact development (LID) or conservation of private land. The city does not have a private tree protection ordinance.

Last updated: January 2017

Buildings Policies
Score: 2.5 out of 28 points
Buildings Summary List All

Memphis has some building sector initiatives to improve efficiency. The Department of Code Enforcement in the Public Works Division manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Memphis.

Last Updated: January 2017

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

Tennessee is a home rule state, in which codes are adopted and enforced at the jurisdictional level. To learn more about the building energy codes in Tennessee, please visit the State Policy Database.


The City of Memphis adopted the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for new commercial construction in 2012.


The City of Memphis adopted the 2009 IECC for new residential construction in 2012.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Memphis does not have internal staff dedicated solely to energy code compliance. The city does not require building code officials to complete energy code training. The city 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. The city does not provide upfront support to developers or owners for energy code compliance. 

Last Updated: January 2017

Requirements and Incentives for Efficient Buildings List All

Green Building Requirements

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

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

Memphis 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

Tax abatements and low interest loans are available for residential and commercial projects implementing green building or energy efficiency measures.

Last Updated: January 2017

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Memphis does not have mandatory or voluntary programs to encourage building benchmarking in any sector.

The multiple listing service which serves the Memphis region includes energy efficiency fields for features of homes listed on the market, using the Memphis Green Features Checklist.

Last Updated: January 2017

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 5.5 out of 20 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 which provides wastewater treatment and stormwater management services for Memphis.

Last Updated: January 2017

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2015, according to TVA and MLGW, MLGW achieved 2,206 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 0.02% of retail sales. To achieve these savings, MLGW and TVA spent $399,340 on electric efficiency programs in Memphis in 2015, which equates to 0.03% of annual revenue. In 2015, MLGW either did not spend or did not report spending 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: January 2017

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.

In 2015, according to MLGW, it spent $337,500 on its low-income electric efficiency portfolio. It did not provide information on natural gas spending as well as electric nor natural gas savings or customers served in 2015.

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.

Last Updated: June 2017

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) makes use of the My Account data sharing platform which includes a “My Home Compare” scale so households can compare usage to similar households. At this time, MLGW does not provide Memphis’s building owners and managers with automatic benchmarking data for use in Portfolio Manager. MLGW does not publically release community aggregate energy usage data. Currently, the City does not advocate for policy improvements in data provision by utilities.

Last Updated: January 2017

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

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.

Energy 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.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The Stormwater Management Program has established numerous requirements for newly developed areas for stormwater management such as new parking lots and bioswales. Revenue generated from the stormwater fee is also used for public projects that incorporate low impact development (LID) and green infrastructure. The Mid-South Regional Greenprint Plan is the regional vision for green infrastructure in terms of greenways and bicycle trails.

Last Updated: January 2017

Score: 7.5 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

Location Efficiency List All

Memphis adopted a Unified Development Code in 2010 that incorporates form-based elements and overlays to encourage mixed-use development. The city removes minimum off-street parking requirements for certain areas of the city. There are no incentives available through the city to promote location efficiency.

Last updated: January 2017

Mode Shift List All

Modal Share Targets

Memphis has not yet developed targets to promote a modal shift in transportation.

Car and Bicycle Sharing

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

Complete Streets

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

Last updated: January 2017

Transit List All

The MATA transit system that serves Memphis received $67,376,187 in average annual funding from 2011-2015. This funding level is $50.13 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting the city in the fifth highest category ($50-99) available in transit funding. 

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 6, putting it in the fourth highest category (5-14) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, Memphis does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles. There are no incentives available for the construction of EV charging infrastructure. This city has 16 EV charging stations available for public use.

Last updated: January 2017

Freight List All

Sustainable freight plan

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.

Smart freight

Memphis does not employ an internet-based application or service to coordinate freight transport

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Memphis does not have a sustainable transportation plan in place.

Last updated: January 2017

Low-Income in Transit-Oriented Development Areas List All

Memphis does not have any requirements or incentives in place to encourage the development or preservation of affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Last updated: January 2017