State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Providence, RI

69.50Scored out of 250Updated 05/2024
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 13 out of 45 points
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. Based on community-wide greenhouse gas emissions inventories, Providence is reducing emissions by about 1% annually on average. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects the city will not achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

The Climate Justice Plan also sets specific community-wide targets for electrification of heating in buildings (85% of commercial heating and 90% of residential heating by 2050). 

Energy Reduction Goal

The city does not have a community-wide energy reduction goal. 

Renewable Energy Goal

The Climate Justice Plan established goals of 50% carbon-free electricity by 2035 and 100% by 2050. 

Last updated: August 2023

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

Equitable Community Outreach

The Racial and Environmental Justice Committee (REJC), 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 systems to better inform the city’s climate strategy. The ten community members have conducted interviews within their communities to better understand how energy impacts lives and communities.

The City is also working with the REJC to launch two Green Justice Zones to deepen collaboration with Providence’s frontline communities. The Green Justice Zones will help the City prioritize investments that align with the Climate Justice Plan in the two neighborhoods in Providence that are most burdened by environmental impacts. 

Equitable decision-making

Providence aided in the creation of a Racial and Environmental Justice Committee (REJC), which is entirely comprised of community members of color. The REJC advised the Office of Sustainability on how to better incorporate equity into its work. REJC and the City continue to share power with frontline communities in a collaborative governance model. 

Equity Accountability Measures

The Climate Justice Plan includes seven key climate equity objectives and over fifty strategies that seek to create an equitable, low-carbon city. The plan also identifies changes that are needed in the city's governing structure, economic systems, and health of their communities to ensure an equitable transition from fossil fuels. The plan includes specific goals for improving low-carbon transit options for frontline communities and reducing diesel truck traffic in those communities.

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: August 2023

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList 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: August 2023

Adaptive Mitigation List All

Heat Island Mitigation Policies and Programs

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. The city is working to establish an Urban Forest Master Plan.

Resilience Hubs

We were unable to determine if the city has supported the creation of resilience hubs that incorporate clean energy resources and are sited in disadvantaged communities.

Last updated: August 2023

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Workforce development for disadvantaged workers

We could not determine if city has partnered with a local education institution, labor union, or community-based organization to create, support, and/or incentivize the development of clean energy workforce development initiatives that target training and support services for potential or existing workers from disadvantaged communities to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

Workforce development for the broader community

We could not determine if city has partnered with a local education institution, labor union, or community-based organization to create, support, and/or incentivize the development of clean energy workforce development initiatives that target training and support services for potential or existing workers from the broader community to obtain and keep in-demand jobs.

Outcomes tracking

We could not determine if the city has instituted a mechanism to measure the performance and/or success of equitable workforce development initiatives focused on the clean energy sector.

Last updated: August 2023

Buildings Policies
Score: 9.5 out of 70 points
Building Energy CodesList 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 2018 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 49.50.


Residential properties must comply with the State Energy Conservation Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 65.15.

Solar-readiness policies

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar-ready, but allows solar energy use in all zones.

EV-readiness policies

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be EV-ready. 

Low-energy use requirements

Providence requires new municipal buildings to achieve LEED standards. All Public School new and major renovation projects must adhere to the Collaborative for High Performance Schools standard and achieve certification.

Electrification policies

We could not find information on whether the city has adopted any electrification policies.

Last Update: September 2023

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

The city staffs 8 full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city uses plan reviews and performance testing to ensure code compliance.  In 2019, the City completed a code compliance study which identified a compliance rate of 77% for commercial properties and 89% for residential. The study also provided recommendations for improvement, which the City is working towards implementing. For example, one of the recommendations was to hold a code enforcement training for inspectors. The city does not currently provide any upfront support.

Last Update: September 2023

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

The City does not yet have a benchmarking policy, but it has proposed a Building Energy Reporting Ordinance (BERO). The proposed ordinance would require large building owners (of buildings greater than 10,000 square feet) to benchmark their buildings’ energy use and report this data to the City.


The proposed Building Energy Reporting Ordinance (BERO) includes a requirement for energy action, whereby each covered property that us not exempted shall be required to complete an energy action or assessment, as defined by the Director of Sustainability, within five years of the requirement going into effect and each five years thereafter.



Providence offers commercial property owners access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. 

Voluntary programs

Providence launched a voluntary buildings energy challenge program called RePowerPVD in April 2018.  This program has two tracks:

1) 20 percent reduction by 2025: Using a 2015 baseline, property owners may enter any building over 10,000 square feet by committing to reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2025.

2) Race to Zero. Property owners may also enter their buildings into the “race” to become the first Zero Energy Building (ZEB) in Providence.

Last Update: September 2023

Score: 14.5 out of 70 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Providence's Climate Justice Plan was released in 2019 and includes sustainable transportation strategies. It also includes strategies specifically benefiting disadvantaged communities. 

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

According to the Providence Climate Justice Plan, the city has a goal of reducing VMT 11% by 2035 and 20% by 2050. 

Due to insufficient data on the baseline year, we were unable to calculate a required per-capita annual reduction for achieving this goal. Therefore, Providence did not earn points for the stringency of its target. 

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

The City of Providence did not provide VMT data collected since the adoption of its goal; therefore, we cannot assess progress toward the goal. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

We were unable to find information indicating that the City of Providence has made changes to its zoning code in the past 10 years to facilitate more residential density, mixed-use development, or transit-oriented development. 

Parking Requirements

Providence has eliminated parking minimums in certain districts. 

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Providence offers a height bonus for downtown developments. 

Affordable Housing around Transit

The City of Providence does not require, preserve, or incentivize the development of affordable housing near transit. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The City of Providence does not have a codified mode share target. 

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

The City of Providence does not have a codified mode share target, and therefore cannot make progress toward the target. 

Subsidized Access to Efficient Transportation Options

The City of Providence partners with Spin to offer discounted fares to people without smartphones, mobile location services, or credit cards. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Public Transit List All

Transit Funding

The transit entities that serve the City of Providence have received $74,046,440.80 on average annually between 2017 and 2021 from local sources. That equates to roughly $70.32 per capita between 2017 and 2021 within the service area. 

Access to Transit Services

The AllTransit Performance Score measures a given community's transit access and performance. The score considers connections to other routes, access to jobs, service frequency, and the percent of commuters who ride transit to work. The City of Providence’s AllTransit Performance Score is 7.4, scoring 2 points in the City Scorecard. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Neither the City of Providence nor the local utility provide incentives for purchasing efficient vehicles. 

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Neither the City of Providence nor the local utility provide incentives for the installation of EV charging stations. 

Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Requirements

The City of Providence does not require new developments to install EV charging stations. 

EV Charging Ports

The City of Providence has 90.1 vehicle charging ports per 100,000 people available for public use. 

Electric School Bus Goal

Providence set a goal of transitioning 100% of its bus fleet to electric by 2040. Providence plans to prioritize routes serving communities with high environmental justice issues as it transitions to electric buses. 

EV Transit Bus Goal

Neither the City of Providence nor the local transit agency have set an electric transit bus goal. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Sustainable Freight Plans

The City of Providence does not have a sustainable freight plan or freight mobility plan in place, nor is it pursuing any freight efficiency strategies. 

Open Data Portals

The City of Providence does not have an open data portal with real-time freight data. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Community Energy Infrastructure
Score: 26 out of 40 points
Community Energy Infrastructure 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. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the Rhode Island page of the State Database.

The City of Providence launched its electricity aggregation program in May 2023, the Providence Community Electricity program.

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

Last Updated: August 2023

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2021, Narragansett Electric reported 131,365 MWh in net electric incremental savings.

In 2021, Narragansett Electric reported savings of 3.16 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs.

Narragansett Electric offers both natural gas and electric efficiency incentives to residential and commercial customers.

The City has various partnerships with Narragansett Electric, its electric and natural gas utility, that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy in both the public and private sectors, including the City’s voluntary energy challenge program called RePowerPVD. Narragansett Electric has been providing automated energy usage data as well as energy benchmarking assistance to program participants at request. The City is a member of the RI Energy Efficiency Collaborative to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of National Grid’s energy efficiency plans.

Last Updated: August 2023

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 a 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. They braid funds with Green and Healthy Homes as well as the RI Department of Human Services, Department of Energy and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to provide health and safety measures in programs.

The utility partners with the seven local Community Action Agencies to administer the program. National Grid supports their local presence as they serve as the initial, and primary, interface for income-eligible customers. National Grid also recently established a Customer Advocate Support program to help customers manage their energy bills and identify assistance solutions. Customer Assistance Expos and community tabling events aim to connect customers to their local advocates.

In 2021, according to Narragansett Electric, it achieved 4,262 MWh and 0.18 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $11,841,300 and $6,721,000 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. Narragansett Electric served 5,992 electric and 3,246 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 2021, according to Narragansett Electric, it achieved 3,329 MWh and 0.23 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $4,782,900 and $5,324,200 on its electric and natural multifamily programs, respectively. Narragansett served 1,554 electric housing units in 197 multifamily properties and 3,081 natural gas housing units.

Last Updated: August 2023

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Narragansett Electric provides building owners support to use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. The city of Providence provides community wide energy usage information for planning and evaluation purposes through their online sustainability dashboard. The City of Providence has been working closely with the state and Narragansett Electric to get building energy data available to ratepayers.

Last Updated: August 2023

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Cities and Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2020, National Grid set a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, along with interim targets of 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 from a 1990 baseline. To achieve the goal of 80% by 2030, National Grid will need to reduce emissions by 2.6% annually from 2019 levels from US operations.

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.

In 2019, the Providence City Council voted to authorize the Mayor and the City’s Office of Sustainability to develop and implement an aggregation plan to allow the residents of Providence to have more control over their electric bills. Under Rhode Island state law, CCA programs provide the opportunity to bring the benefits of competitive choice of electric supplier, longer-term price stability and more renewable energy options to the residents and businesses of the City of Providence and other municipalities in Rhode Island. The City Council is in full support of this program and the potential monetary and environmental benefits to our community. The City solicited bids in late 2019 and in early 2020 awarded a contract for a consultant to assist the City in the creation and operation of an aggregation plan and CCA program.

Clean Distributed Energy Resources 

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

Municipal Renewable Energy Procurement 

Providence had installed 4.75 MW of solar capacity on city facilities. 

City Renewable Energy Incentive and Financing Programs 

Providence 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. 

The city also provides expedited solar permit reviews for qualifying commercial buildings. 

Last Updated: September 2023

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide Water Efficiency and Goals

Although Providence’s water and energy utilities do 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 efficient measures at its plant. As a result of its efforts, the COF project received a “Lead by Example Award” from the RI Office of Energy Resources in recognition of significant contributions toward comprehensive clean energy measures that are helping to reduce energy burdens and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The agency installed a rooftop solar array, which is expected to offset about 60% of its annual electric consumption. It installed energy efficient LED lighting and lighting controls throughout its facility, purchased three zero-emissions Chevy Bolts, and installed two electric vehicle charging stations on its property. The COF project also installed green infrastructure to mitigate stormwater run-off to nearby Mashapaug Pond.

The wastewater treatment plant currently self-generates some energy through biogas CHP and is powered by 100% renewable energy as of October 2020 via biogas CHP, wind, and solar.

Providence Water is powered by 100% renewable energy as of October 2020.

Last Updated: August 2023

Local Government Score:
6.5 out of 25 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

Climate Change Mitigation Goal

The city of Providence set a goal to reduce local government GHG emissions 100% by 2040, using a 2015 baseline. 

Energy Reduction Goal

The city of Providence set a goal to reduce local government building energy use 30% by 2030, using a 2010 baseline. 

Renewable Energy Goal

The city of Providence set a goal to use 100% renewable energy to power city operations by 2030. 

Last updated: November 2023

Procurement and Construction Policies 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 included funding in its Master Lease to procure 15 new EVs and install charging infrastructure, with 3 EVs purchased as of mid-2021. In early 2020, the City leveraged incentives and successfully installed six EV charging stations for municipal and public use at the public safety garage. We were unable to find information on the overall composition of Providence’s fleet.  

Public Lighting

The City has not adopted controls provisions of the Model Lighting Ordinance for outdoor and street lighting. 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. 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. 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. As such, 100% of the City's streetlights are now LEDs. 

Inclusive procurement

Providence has a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program, with MWDBE targets.

Last updated: February 2024

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking

The City of Providence has been benchmarking and monitoring its energy consumption as part of its fiscal and environmental agenda since 2010. The FY2022 Municipal Energy Report will mark the eighth report released by the Office of Sustainability. 100% of Providence’s municipal building square footage is regularly benchmarked using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Before the end of FY23 the City will be signing a 3-year contract with an Energy Management Services SaaS provider to expand its benchmarking, reporting and analytical capabilities. Monthly financial and consumption reports will be available.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategies

The City worked with the Department of Energy, NBI, Maalka, and EcoEdge to develop a Strategic Energy 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. The city has a full-time energy manager who manages the city’s energy efficiency work.

Municipal Employee Transportation Benefits

Providence does not provide reduced-emission transportation benefits to municipal staff.

Last update: February 2024