State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Providence, RI

41.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 4 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Providence adopted the Climate Justice Plan in 2019, following up on the Sustainable Providence plan, initially released in 2014 and updated in 2016. The Climate Justice Plan sets sector-specific targets to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and aims to center those most impacted by the climate crisis in the decision-making process.

Last updated: September 2021

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: September 2021

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: September 2021

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: September 2021

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

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.

UHI 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.

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 4.5 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 but it is is currently advocating for a benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. The city offers access to property assessed clean energy financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Last Updated: August 2021

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 2015 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-readiness policies

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

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure 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. 

Last Updated: June 2021

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 to ensure code compliance, but does not use site inspections nor performance testing.  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 Updated: June 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


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.

Voluntary programs

Providence launched a voluntary buildings energy challenge program called RePowerPVD in April 2018. 

Last Updated: August 2021

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: June 2021

Score: 13 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. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) designs, constructs, and maintains the state's surface transportation system.

Last updated: May 2020

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Sustainable transportation is addressed in the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Sustainable Providence Plan (2014), and Climate Justice Plan (2019). Sustainable Providence contains a chapter dedicated to promoting sustainable transportation, where VMT is tracked as a key metric. In the Climate Justice Plan, targets for reducing VMT and lowering transportation carbon emissions citywide include reducing VMT 11% by 2035 and 20% by 2050, and aiming for 43% of VMT to be electric by 2035 and 80% by 2050.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

In the Climate Justice Plan, targets for reducing VMT and lowering transportation carbon emissions citywide include reducing VMT 11% by 2035 and 20% by 2050, and aiming for 43% of VMT to be electric by 2035 and 80% by 2050. The Great Streets Plan released in January of 2020 offered a baseline of VMTs in Providence. The average Providence household creates over 18,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per year, which contributes to traffic congestion, noise, physical inactivity, and more than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from transportation and mobile sources each year.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

Providence is currently on pace to meet its target.

Last Updated: December 2021

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's zoning ordinance includes updated regulations for the required number of off-street vehicle parking, bicycle parking, and loading spaces, and the design of surface parking lots, driveways, and parking structures. Article 14 also includes regulations that limit the number of off-street vehicle parking spaces allowed in some instances through a parking maximum.

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: December 2021

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

The goals and strategies for transportation modal shift in the city's 2019 Climate Justice Plan include a target for increasing the number of employers in Providence offering RIPTA’s EcoPass to their employees from 50 to 200 employers, and a target for increasing the number of trips taken using bike sharing plan subscriptions to 10%.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

The City is tracking mode share via its open data portal yet progress has remained flat, with roughly 36% of commuters taking alternative transportation. 

Complete Streets

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

Last Updated: December 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve the City of Providence have received $82,154,575.20 on average annually between 2015 and 2019. That equates to roughly $78.37 per capita between 2015 and 2019 within the 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 Providence Transit Connectivity Index value is 7.4, scoring 1 point in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: December 2021

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

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

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

The City's electric and natural gas utility, National Grid, offers broad incentives on the installation of charging stations infrastructure. The RI Office of Energy Resources also offers incentives for charging infrastructure through their program, Electrify RI.

EV Charging Locations

The City has 135 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 75 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

In the Climate Justice Plan, Providence aims to lead by example with the target that 100% of the City's school buses be renewable by 2040.

EV Transit Bus Goal

RIPTA has launched a pilot program with three leased all-electric buses. This pilot, which includes the installation of charging infrastructure for the buses, is giving RIPTA chance to learn about the new technology, train staff, and test the performance of the electric buses on a variety of RIPTA routes. After the pilot program, which is underway, RIPTA plans to purchase 16 to 20 electric buses as permanent additions to its fleet. That process was slated to begin in 2021.

Last Updated: December 2021

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: December 2021

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

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

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

RIPTA also offers reduced fare bus passes for elderly and those with disabilities. Past and current e-bike and e-scooter companies have provided reduced rate programs for eligible participants. Currently Spin offers Spin Access, which provides access to scooters for people without smartphones, mobile location services, or credit cards. Spin Access also provides discounted fares for those who qualify.

Last Updated: December 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 13 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.

In 2019, the Providence City Council voted to authorize the developed and implementation of a community choice aggregation (CCA) plan to allow the residents of Providence to have more control over their electric bills. 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.

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

Last Updated: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, Narragansett Electric reported 190,159 MWh in net electric incremental savings, representing 2.62% of electric retail sales. In 2019, Narragansett Electric spent $104,066,400 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 9.91% of its retail revenue.

In 2019, Narragansett Electric reported savings of 4.51 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.77% of its retail sales. In 2019, Narragansett Electric spent $30,141,700 on natural gas energy efficiency, which equates to $122.39 per residential gas customer. 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 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: July 2021

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 2019, according to Narragansett Electric, it achieved 4,956 MWh and 0.31 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $12,595,100 and $6,919,900 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. Narragansett Electric served 6,229 electric and 2,685 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 2019, according to Narragansett Electric, it achieved 4,179 MWh and 0.38 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $4,179,000 and $4,177,00 on its electric and natural multifamily programs, respectively. Narragansett served 5,111 electric housing units in 3,249 multifamily properties and 3,097 natural gas housing units.

Last Updated: July 2021

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: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of 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.

Last Updated: August 2021

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. PW has a goal of using 100% renewable energy by the end of 2019.

The wastewater treatment plant currently self-generates some energy through biogas CHP and is well on its way to being 100% renewable by 2020 via biogas CHP, wind, and solar.

Last Updated: July 2021

Local Government Score:
6.5 out of 10 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 targets to eliminate all climate pollution from city operations by 2040. To meet this goal, Providence must reduce per capita emissions by 4.17% annually. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects the city will achieve its near-term GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

Executive Order 2016-3 establishes a goal of carbon neutrality community-wide by 2050. The Sustainable Providence Plan also 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 100% renewable electricity for municipal operations by 2030, 100% renewable thermal by 2040, and 100% electric transportation by 2040. 

Last updated: June 2021

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. 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. 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.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems

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

Inclusive procurement

While we were unable to find information on the policy's application to energy projects, the City has Minority Business Enterprise participation policy that sets a goal of 20% WMBE participation. 

Last updated: June 2021

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 FY2020 Municipal Energy Report will mark the sixth report released by the Office of Sustainability. 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. 

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. 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%. Between FY 2018 and FY 2019, 14 buildings increased their Energy Star scores. The average Energy Star scores of all City schools combined has risen 14.4% since FY 2014, largely due to energy efficiency upgrades and HVAC control retro-commissioning completed in the buildings. The city has a full-time energy manager who manages the city’s energy efficiency work.

Last updated: June 2021