State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Providence, RI

41.50Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
6 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The Sustainable Providence Plan establishes climate and energy goals for the City of Providence’s municipal operations. These goals were updated with Executive Order 2016-3.

Climate Mitigation Goal

The update to the Sustainable Providence Plan established a citywide goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. To meet this goal, Providence must reduce per capita emissions by 2.94% annually. The city is not on track to meet its climate mitigation goal.

Energy Reduction Goal

The Sustainable Providence Plan includes a goal to reduce municipal energy use by 30% below 2010 levels by 2030. The city releases information regarding progress towards this goal through an open data portal and municipal energy reports. Municipal energy data is also released through an online sustainability dashboard.

Renewable Energy Goal

Providence aims to use renewable energy to power 100% of city operations by 2030. 

Last updated: June 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

In accordance with the City Code (Chapter II, Article I, Sec. 2-12), when the city purchases motor vehicles for its municipal operations, each vehicle purchased must be the most fuel-efficient model available that will fulfill the intended municipal function. In 2019, the City will be launching an EV pilot with the procurement of up to six new electric vehicles to incorporate into its fleet, as well as the installation of EV charging infrastructure at the central fleet garage. Based on the results of this pilot, the City plans to expand EV procurement to the rest of the fleet. We were unable to find data regarding fleet composition.

Public Lighting

Providence has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. The City of Providence purchased its roadway lighting in February 2016 from the Utility, National Grid and hired a third party to retrofit the entire system, including floodlighting, to LED technology, and incorporate open-portal controls for dimming. Currently, the City’s new LED streetlighting and controls management company remotely dims about half of the City’s streetlighting by 40% late night to early morning. New recent guidelines enacted by the RI Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC) will allow the City to expand that to 50% dimming for six hours (11pm-5am). All streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate from dawn to dusk.

Green Building Requirements 

In accordance with state law (§ 37-24-4), all major facilities projects of public agencies shall be designed and constructed to at least the LEED-, LEED for Neighborhood Development-, and SITES-certified. Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) regulations for new building construction mandate that projects shall comply with all requirements set forth in the most recent Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools Protocol (Northeast-CHPS) so that approved projects provide high quality learning environments, conserve natural resources, consume less energy, are easier to maintain, and provide an enhanced school facility.

Last updated: June 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

100% of Providence’s municipal building square footage is regularly benchmarked using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The City has partnered with the Department of Energy, NBI, Maalka, and EcoEdge to develop a Strategic Energy Plan. The City is currently working to integrate these efforts with the City's five-year Capital Improvement Plan and the School Improvement Plan.  A number of comprehensive whole-building studies have been completed on individual buildings, and as part of broader studies such as the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Schoolhouse Energy Report Card for which RIDE also provided detailed building energy strategies to every municipality for every school building in their district. In 2016, the City completed whole-building-approach energy efficiency projects at five City buildings using $1.2 million in funding from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB), a quasi-State agency developed to help Rhode Island municipalities address their goals for energy efficiency. The project, covering 71,240 square feet of building space, will reduce energy consumption in the five buildings by greater than 40%.

Public Workforce Commuting

Providence does not have policies to reduce the commutes of city workers, such as flex schedules and teleworking policies.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 8 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Providence’s Sustainable Providence plan was initially release in 2014. The city most recently updated the plan in 2016.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

With Executive Order 2016-3, Providence has adopted a goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050. ACEEE does not project the city will achieve its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal because no data was available to make a projection. 

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 uploads community-wide energy data for the residential and commercial sectors onto an online sustainability dashboard.

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equitable Community Outreach

The Racial and Environmental Justice Committee, comprised of community members of color, is now leading Providence’s climate planning engagement process. The Committee has trained ten community members in energy democracy and energy system to better inform the city’s climate strategy. The ten community members have conducted interviews within their community to better understand how energy impacts lives and communities.

Equitable decision-making

Providence aided in the creation of a Racial and Environmental Justice Committee, which was entirely comprised of community members of color. The Committee advised the Office of Sustainability as to how to better incorporate equity into its work.  

Accountability to Equity

The Racial and Environmental Justice Committee created the Principles and Values for a Racially Equitable and Just Providence framework. The city evaluates all climate strategy recommendations through this lens.

Last updated: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

Providence has amended the city’s zoning code to better encourage solar installation. The city has also streamlined its solar permitting process.

The City’s wastewater treatment plant has invested into wind, solar, and biogas combined heat and power. The plant is on track to use 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

Sustainable Providence establishes the city’s goal to increase Providence’s tree canopy from 23% to 30% and places priority on planting trees in low canopy neighborhoods. The City is tracking progress via the Dashboard.

The city has adopted a development incentives policy that awards building height bonuses in the downtown area to real estate developers that preserve open space. The city has also adopted a private tree protection ordinance for trees measuring 32-inches or more at diameter at breast height.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 5.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Providence enforces the state’s energy codes. The city requires plan reviews to verify energy code compliance. Providence has not adopted a benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. The city offers access to property assessed clean energy financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Rhode Island requires local jurisdictions to comply with the SBC-8 State Energy Conservation Code. The Conservation Code requires residential and commercial developments adhere to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). In 2018, the state adopted a voluntary stretch code that individual projects and developments may adopt. The state bars cities from adopting the stretch code as its standard building code.


Commercial properties must comply with the State Energy Conservation Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 60.0. The city does not advocate the state to adopt more stringent commercial energy codes.


Residential properties must comply with the State Energy Conservation Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 65.2. The city does not advocate the state to adopt more stringent residential energy codes.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance 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 uses plan reviews to ensure code compliance, but does not use site inspections nor performance testing.

Last Updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

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


The city does not have a single-family benchmarking and disclosure ordinance.

Last Updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Providence offers three incentives for energy efficiency and solar energy projects.

The city offers commercial property owners access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Residential property owners may also access PACE financing for renewable energy installations only.

Please note that each incentive/program is tallied based on the building types and energy resources eligible for award. For example, a PACE financing program that offers energy efficiency and renewable energy financing to both residential and commercial property owners is counted as four incentives.

Last Updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

Providence has not adopted any policy requiring building owners to conduct energy-saving actions.

Last Updated: March 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The city offered a Building Operator Certification (BOC) Level I training in partnership with National Grid and Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC). The course included eight full days of classroom training over several months. The city also offered Green Professional Building Skills (GPRO) training in partnership with the Urban Green Council, the U.S. Green Building Council’s New York City affiliate. This training was offered for free. 

Last Updated: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 11 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

The Narragansett Electric Company, an investor-owned utility (IOU) and subsidiary to National Grid, is the primary electric and natural gas utility serving the City of Providence. Rhode Island’s Comprehensive Energy Conservation, Efficiency and Affordability Act of 2006 requires utilities to acquire all cost-effective energy efficiency. The act also establishes requirements for strategic long-term planning and purchasing of least-cost supply and demand resources, and three-year energy saving targets. To learn more about the state-requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Rhode Island page of the State Database.

The Providence Water Supply Board provides drinking water services to the City of Providence.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, Narragansett Electric reported 232,023 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 3.17% of retail sales. In 2017, Narragansett Electric reported savings of 4.68 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.99% of its retail sales. These savings cover the entire Rhode Island service territory, not just Providence. Narragansett Electric offers both natural gas and electric efficiency incentives to residential and commercial customers.

The City has formed partnership with various organizations including Narragansett Electric, its electric and natural gas utility for its voluntary energy challenge program called RePowerPVD. Naragansett Electric has been providing automated energy usage data as well as energy benchmarking assistance to program participants at request. The City is an active new member of the RI Energy Efficiency Collaborative to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of National Grid’s energy efficiency plans.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

Narragansett Electric offers the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program to qualified low-income residential customers. The program offers a home energy assessment, appliance replacement, insulation, air and duct sealing, heating equipment, domestic hot water systems, and lighting. Customers who qualify for bill assistance are eligible to receive all services and equipment upgrades. The program is delivered by local community action agencies with oversight provided by a lead industry partner. The program also collaborates with the federally funded Weatherization Assistance Program, offering joint services to qualified customers. Further, the Company offers an Income Eligible Multifamily program for low-income residential customers who reside in multi-unit building. The program offers a no cost comprehensive energy assessment along with no cost measures such as lighting, insulation, air sealing and mechanical upgrades.

In 2017, according to Narragansett Electric, it achieved 8,020 MWh and 0.32 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 8,238 electric and 4,540 natural gas low-income customers.

Multifamily Programs

Narragansett Electric offers a multifamily program that provides comprehensive energy services to Residential Market Rate, Income Eligible and Commercial and Industrial Gas multifamily customers including energy assessments, incentives for heating and domestic hot water systems, cooling equipment, lighting, and appliances. The program establishes a primary multifamily point of contact to manage and coordinate services offered through their existing energy efficiency programs. The utility also launched a new landlord weatherization program that covers 100% of the cost of weatherizing 1-4 unit builds.

In 2017, according to Narragansett Electric, it achieved 6,640 MWh and 0.40 MMtherms in energy savings from its multifamily programs, while serving 8,743 electric and 9,821 natural gas multifamily customers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Narragansett Electric supports the EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool for Rhode Island properties as part of a larger effort to promote energy efficiency and identify improvement opportunities for customers.The City of Providence has been working closely with the State and Narragansett Electric to get whole building energy data available to large commercial buildings. Narragansett Electric recently launched the Rhode Island System Data Portal as part of this mission.

Last Updated: April 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

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

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The city of Providence actively engages with the state to support key policies related to energy efficiency and renewable energy. For example, the City submitted written testimony in support of House bill 5536, which removes unnecessary barriers to allow municipalities to choose the electricity supplier for its residents and businesses to enable community choice aggregation. The City also supported legislation that would expand net metering options to nonprofits, including hospitals and universities.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

Although Providence’s water and energy utilities not offer joint energy and water efficiency programs, the Providence Water Supply Board offers water efficiency kits for residential customers and efficiency audits for commercial and industrial customers. In accordance with R.I. General Laws §46-15.3-5.1 (c) and §46-15.8-5, the Water Supply Board established a residential average annual water use target of 65 gallons per capita per day.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The City of Providence has not yet established a target for energy efficiency through municipal water services operations. However, in October 2017, the water utility received grant and rebate money that it used to implement several energy efficiency measures at its plant. There are no programs or policies in place to increase energy efficiency through the Providence Water Supply Board’s operations. The wastewater treatment plant currently self-generates some energy through biogas CHP.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 11 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving Providence is the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority (RIPTA). RIPTA provides the public transportation throughout the State of Rhode Island. The State Planning Council is in charge of conducting metropolitan transportation planning throughout the state. Providence’s Department of Public Works is charged with managing the city’s transportation network.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Sustainable transportation is addressed in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Providence’s Sustainability plan contains a chapter dedicated to promoting sustainable transportation. VMT is tracked as a key metric, but there are no targets or goals in place. As the city develops their climate action plan to become a carbon neutral city by 2050, targets for reducing VMT will be in included.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

Providence’s VMT targets are currently under development. The city proposed target includes a 11% reduction in VMT by 2030 and a 20% reduction in VMT by 2050.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Providence does not track progress towards a VMT/GHG target.

Last Updated: May 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The Providence Zoning Ordinance update features new transit-oriented development zones to encourage more intensive development on portions of major transit routes.

Residential Parking Policies

The city has no parking minimums downtown, and parking maximums exist in designated transit-oriented development areas.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

The City has adopted a development incentives policy that awards building height bonuses in the downtown area to real estate developers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

Providence does not have a mode shift target in place for the transportation sector.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Providence does not track progress towards their mode shift target.

Complete Streets

Providence’s complete streets policy scored an 21.2 out of 100 according to the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Car Sharing

The city has an agreement with Zip Car to allow them to use City-owned on-street parking spots.

Bike Sharing

The city has 221.74 docked bike share bikes per 100,000 people.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

Providence spends an average of $32.80 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 7.5 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, Providence does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Providence does not currently offer incentives for the installing of EV charging infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

Providence has 9.98 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

Providence does not have any incentives for renewable EV charging infrastructure installation.

Last Updated: March 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

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

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Providence does not provide any subsidies for efficient transportation options to low-income residents.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

60.9% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in Providence.     

Last Updated: April 2019