State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Providence, RI

35.00Scored out of 100Updated 5/2017
Local Government Score:
7 out of 10 points
Local Government Summary List All

Providence’s Sustainable Providence Plan, released in 2014, details the city’s energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction efforts for internal government operations. The Office of Sustainability oversees implementation of government operations initiatives and facilitates interdepartmental coordination.

Last updated: February 2017

Local Government Energy Efficiency Goals List All

As part of its city energy plan, Providence established a goal to reduce energy use in municipal buildings by 30% under 2010 levels by 2030. The city also has a goal to be carbon neutral city-wide by 2050, including municipal buildings. This goal is in line with the statewide Rhode Island Resilient Act of 2014, which calls for an 85% reduction in citywide emissions by 2050.


To meet their energy reduction goal, Providence would need to reduce local government energy usage by 2.3% per year.


Providence is not currently on track for its local government energy use goal.


The city released its first municipal energy report in 2015. It is modeled after similar building energy benchmarking reports from major cities and highlights municipal building metrics such as Energy Star Scores, EUI and energy cost, as well as success stories and plans for future energy efficiency efforts. The report will be updated for 2016. The metrics included in the report are also posted on the city’s open data portal, which will also be updated this year.

Last updated: April 2017

Procurement and Construction List All

Vehicle Fleets and Infrastructure

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. Otherwise, we did not find information on a fleet right-sizing policy, culling requirements, tracking technology or other policies or tools focused at encouraging the efficient use of the public fleet.

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

We could not confirm if Providence has adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. This city purchased its streetlighting from the utility company in February of 2015, and hired a third party to retrofit the entire system, including floodlighting, to LED technology, and incorporate open-portal controls for dimming. Additionally, The City’s new LED streetlighting and controls management company will be remotely dimming streetlighting City-wide between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am. All streetlights have photo sensors, so they only operate from dawn to dusk.

New Buildings and Equipment

Providence requires new muncipal construction and major renovation projects to meet LEED Silver certification. Energy efficiency requirements are not included in the local government procurement policy.

Last updated: April 2017

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

10% of Providence’s municipal building square footage is being regularly benchmarked using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. In January 2016, the City partnered with the State of Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER), National Grid, and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) in an ongoing strategy to target energy reduction in schools and municipal buildings. Last year the RIIB unveiled its new lending program, the Efficient Buildings Fund, which offers low interest rates for municipal projects that demonstrate a twenty percent energy savings, or better. 

Public Employees

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

Last updated: January 2017

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 3.5 out of 12 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

Providence’s 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

Providence has adopted a goal to become a carbon-neutral city by 2050. This goal is outlined in Executive Order 2016-3. This is in line with the statewide Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014, which calls for an 85% reduction in emissions by 2050. The city does not have a community-wide energy goal.

The city will be reporting its community-wide progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for the Compact of Mayors.

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

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 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 does not have a private tree protection ordinance or policies that require or incentivize low impact development (LID) techniques.

Last updated: January 2017 

Buildings Policies
Score: 2 out of 28 points
Buildings Summary List All

Providence has some building sector initiatives to improve efficiency. The Department of Inspection and Standards manages the building energy code compliance and enforcement for the City of Providence.

Last Updated: January 2017

Stringency of Energy CodesList All

The State of Rhode Island requires its local jurisdictions to follow the revised edition of the SBC-8 State Energy Conservation Code, SBC-8-2013 in residential and commercial construction. The code requires residential and commercial construction to comply with the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. To learn more about Rhode Island’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial construction in Providence complies with the State Energy Conservation Code. Providence has not yet begun advocating for increased stringency in commercial building energy codes.


Residential construction in Providence complies with the State Energy Conservation Code. Providence has not yet begun advocating for increased stringency in residential building energy codes.

Last Updated: January 2017

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Providence 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

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

Energy Audit and Retrofit Requirements

The City of Providence does not have building energy audit or retrofit requirements. 

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings

Providence does not yet provide incentives or financing products for home or building owners making energy efficient upgrades.

Last Updated: January 2017

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Providence does not have mandatory or voluntary programs to encourage building benchmarking in any sector. Providence was selected to participate in the City Energy Project (CEP), a joint project by the Natural Resource Defense Council and the Institute for Market Transformation. 

Last Updated: February 2017

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 15 out of 20 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: January 2017

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, Spending & SavingsList All

In 2015, according to EIA, Narragansett Electric achieved 204,408 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 2.69% of retail sales. To achieve these savings, Narragansett Electric spent $82,851,000 on electric efficiency programs in 2015, which equates to 8.16% of annual revenue. In 2015, Narragansett reported savings of 4.20 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 1.53% of its retail sales. To achieve these savings, Narragansett spent $20,100,000 on natural gas efficiency programs, which are normalized to $77.11 per residential customer. Spending on electricity and natural gas represented in this section covers the entire Rhode Island service territory, not just Providence. Narragansett Electric offers both natural gas and electric efficiency incentives to residential and commercial customers.

At this time, the City of Providence does not have a formal partnership with Narragansett Electric in the form of a jointly-developed or administered energy saving strategy, plan, or agreement. 

Last Updated: January 2017

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, as well as in collaboration with the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative and the Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes. The program also collaborates with the federally funded Weatherization Assistance Program, offering joint services to qualified customers.

In 2015, according to Narragansett Electric’s demand-side management report, it achieved 6,587 MWh and 0.32 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs, while spending $10,105,000 on its electric and $5,022,000 on its natural gas low-income efficiency portfolio. These programs served 10,500 electric and 3,300 natural gas low-income customers, with each electric household receiving an average of $962 and saving an average of 627 kWh and each natural gas household receiving $1,522 and saving 97 therms.

Multifamily Programs

Narragansett Electric offers a multifamily program that provides comprehensive energy services to multifamily customers including energy assessments, incentives for heating and domestic hot water systems, cooling equipment, lighting, and appliances. Through this program a primary multifamily point of contact is established to manage and coordinate services offered through their existing energy efficiency programs, including EnergyWise, C&I Retrofit, Residential New Construction, Income Eligible, and the ENERGY STAR® HVAC programs.

Last Updated: June 2017

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

In order for customers to access their own energy data, Narragansett Electric makes use of the Green Button data sharing platform. Narragansett Electric has run a pilot program to offer benchmarking services to affordable multifamily housing properties, but does not currently offer all building managers or owners access to automatic whole-building benchmarking data for input into Portfolio Manager. The utility does provide aggregated energy use data upon request. National Grid provides community-wide energy use data for community planning and evaluation purposes on a quarterly basis. Moreover, the city has been working closely with the State and National Grid to get whole building energy data available to large commercial buildings.

Last Updated: January 2017

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Water Efficiency

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.

Energy Efficiency and Self-Generation

The City of Providence has not yet established a target for energy efficiency through municipal water services operations. There are no programs or policies in place to increase energy efficiency through the Providence Water Supply Board’s operations.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

Providence is currently developing a plan to be released in 2017 that will take a comprehensive approach to watershed management and explicitly call for the widespread adoption and implementation of green infrastructure. In 2010, Providence adopted the state's Stormwater Design and Installation Manual that requires low impact development (LID) strategies.

Last Updated: January 2017

Score: 7.5 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

Location Efficiency List All

The Providence Zoning Ordinance update features new transit oriented development zones to encourage more intensive development on portions of major transit routes. The city has no parking minimums downtown, and parking maximums exist in designated transit oriented development areas. There are no incentives available to promote location efficiency. 

Last updated: January 2017

Mode Shift List All

Modal Share Targets

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

Car and Bicycle Sharing

There is one car sharing program currently available to the residents and visitors of Providence, zipcar. Providence does not currently have a bike share program, but one is under development and expected to launch in 2017.

Complete Streets

Providence adopted a Complete Streets Resolution in 2012.

Last updated: January 2017

Transit List All

The RIPTA transit system that serves Providence received $127,868,693 in average annual funding from 2011-2015. This funding level is $79.27 per resident in the service territory of the agency, putting it in the fifth highest category ($50-99) available in the City Scorecard

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. Providence’s Transit Connectivity Index value is 23, putting it in the third highest category (15-29) available in the City Scorecard.

Last updated: January 2017

Efficient VehiclesList All

At this time, Providence 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. The city has 19 EV charging stations available for public use.

Last updated: January 2017

Freight List All

Sustainable freight plan

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

Smart freight

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

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

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.

Last updated: January 2017

Low-Income in Transit-Oriented Development Areas List All

Providence 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