State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Rochester, NY

27.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
2 out of 10 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Rochester’s Municipal Operations Climate Action Plan identifies specific municipal operations that will contribute to Rochester’s citywide climate and energy goals.

Climate Mitigation Goal

Rochester aims to reduce local government greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020, using a 2008 baseline. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term GHG emissions reduction goal for municipal operations because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

Energy Reduction Goal

As stated in the city’s Municipal Operations Climate Action Plan, Rochester participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to achieve an energy use reduction in municipal infrastructure of 20% below 2008 levels by 2020. This goal is reiterated in the Rochester Energy Plan.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a municipal renewable energy goal. 

Last updated: September 2020

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition 

We could not confirm if Rochester has a fleet procurement policy or fuel efficiency requirements. However, the City is adding electric vehicles to its fleet and will continue to replace decommissioned vehicles with more efficient vehicles. Rochester is a part of the Electric Vehicles Purchasing Collaborative. Rochester’s fleet is composed of 2.9% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles.

Public Lighting

We did not find information regarding the adoption of a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance. We could not confirm if Rochester has an outdoor lighting upgrade program. Rochester has completed LED upgrades in 4,000 street lights and 28 municipal buildings. The City expects to complete additional LED upgrades in 9,500 street lights and 20 municipal buildings by 2020 to reach this goal.

Onsite renewable systems 

We were unable to find information regarding onsite renewable energy systems in Rochester.

Inclusive procurement 

We could not verify if the city has inclusive procurement and contracting processes.

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking 

The City uses EnergySTAR Porfolio Manager to track energy use for municipal facilities, however we could not confirm the percentage of city buildings that have been benchmarked. 

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategies

Rochester is developing a study to identify municipal facilities that would be selected for energy efficiency upgrades which may include comprehensive efficiency retrofits. Rochester has committed to the US Department of Energy’s Better Buildings challenge (BBC) for its portfolio of buildings. The City has pledged approximately 4 million square feet of buildings in the BBC. The goal of the BBC is a 20% energy use intensity reduction in municipal infrastructure by 2020. So far, City has reached 14% reduction in energy use intensity. 

Public Workforce Commuting 

We did not find information on a policy aimed at reducing commutes of city employees, such as flexible schedules or telework. 

Last updated: July 2020

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 0 out of 15 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Rochester adopted the Climate Action Plan. The city’s Office of Energy and Sustainability designed the plan and the City Council approved the plan.

Last updated: March 2020

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Climate Action Plan established a community-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals of 20% below 2010 levels by 2020 and 40% below 2010 levels by 2030. ACEEE was unable to project if the city will achieve its near-term community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal because insufficient GHG emissions data were available for our analysis.

The Climate Action Plan includes a community-wide greenhouse gas inventory, which is in the process of being updated after the city was awarded funding to conduct a new inventory. The city will also evaluate progress toward emission redu

Energy Reduction Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide energy reduction goal for the city.

Renewable Energy Goal

We did not find information regarding a community-wide renewable energy goal for the city.

Energy Data Reporting

The city’s Climate Action Plan includes citywide energy data from 2010. 

Last updated: March 2020

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether relevant decision-makers have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting engagement for multiple clean energy initiatives with marginalized groups compared to engagement with other city constituencies.

Equity-Driven Decision-Making

We were unable to determine if the city has created a formal role for marginalized community residents or local organizations representing those communities to participate in decision-making that affects the creation or implementation of a local energy, sustainability, or climate action plan.

Accountability to Equity

We were unable to determine whether the city has adopted specific goals, metrics, or protocols to track how multiple energy, sustainability, or climate action initiatives are affecting local marginalized groups. 

Last updated: March 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList 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, though the city is investigating opportunities for residents to learn about and adopt community solar.

Last updated: July 2020

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

We could not verify if the city has adopted a quantitative urban heat island mitigation goal.  

UHI Policies and Programs

The city does not have any policies or programs that mitigate the urban heat island effect, but the city has developed the “Sustainable Practices for Building Owners and Occupants” guidebook and the “Green Infrastructure Retrofit Manual” and is considering policies and incentives. 

The Climate Action Plan identifies trees, parks, and open space as general strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect. The Climate Change Resilience Plan suggests similar strategies, though these have not been implemented yet.

Last updated: July 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 8.5 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Rochester enforces the state’s building energy code. The city has a comprehensive energy code compliance verification process. Rochester does not have a benchmarking and disclosure policy. The city offers incentives for residential energy efficiency upgrades.

Last Update: September 2020

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


New York State allows local jurisdictions to adopt building energy codes that are more stringent than the state code. New York requires residential buildings to comply with 2015 IECC and commercial buildings to comply with 2015 IECC or ASHRAE 90.1-2013. Rochester has not adopted a stretch code. To learn more about California’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties must comply with 2015 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 56.5.


Residential properties must comply with the 2015 IECC. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 53.4.

Solar- and EV-ready

The city has not passed an ordinance mandating new construction be solar- and/or EV-ready.

Last Update: September 2020

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Rochester does not staff full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city uses plan reviews, site inspections, and performance testing to verify energy code compliance. The city does not provide upfront support for energy code compliance, but the city released a Guide to Sustainable Practices for Building Owners and Occupants.

Last Update: September 2020

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All


The city offers home energy improvements through the Sustainable Homes Rochester program. The program received funding from NYSERDA to promote clean heating and cooling technologies. The city aims to prioritize low-income households. The city also offers C-PACE financing. 

Last Update: September 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The city has provided job trainings through its Rochester Environmental Job Training Program (REJob). The Program helps disadvantaged citizens get jobs in the environmental construction field. Rochester has conducted two REJob rounds and is preparing to launch its third round.

Last Update: September 2020

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 6 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E), an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric and natural gas utility for the City of Rochester. The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) is the state-wide agency that administers energy-efficiency programs. The State of New York requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS and efficiency requirements in utility EEPSs. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the New York page of the State Database.

The City of Rochester Bureau of Water is the municipal utility that provides the City of Rochester with drinking water services, wastewater treatment, and stormwater management.

Last Updated: March 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, RG&E and NYSERDA reported 21,476 MWh of total net electric savings at the meter, which represents 0.30% of retail sales. In 2018, RG&E spent $6,354,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 0.99% of its retail revenue. We were unable to determine spending from NYSERDA.

In 2018, RG&E reported 4.74 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 1.78% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2018, RG&E spent $898,320 on energy efficiency, which equates to $3.08 per residential customer. These savings figures cover RG&E’s entire service jurisdiction, not just Rochester. We were unable to determine spending from NYSERDA.

RG&E offers electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers. RG&E also offers natural gas efficiency programs to residential and commercial customers.

RG&E has been working with the City of Rochester in an administrative capacity on a low-income energy efficiency program. RG&E also worked collaboratively on the ROC EV Accelerator program and provided support for their efforts to secure funding from NYPA on programs to support air source heat pumps and electric vehicle car share for residents.

Last Updated: June 2020

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

At this time, RG&E does not offer energy efficiency programs targeted at low-income customers.

NYSERDA offers the EmPower New York program to qualified low-income residential customers served by RG&E. This program addresses both electric and natural gas end uses, while providing no-cost energy efficiency solutions including air sealing, insulation, replacement of inefficient refrigerators and freezers, water efficiency measures, thermostats, and new energy-efficient lighting in order to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, the EmPower program includes health and safety checks of smoke detectors and appliances. Households that receive HEAP benefits, utility bill payment assistance, or participate in the federal Weatherization Assistance Program are automatically eligible. NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program and RetrofitNY initiatives also have low-income saving components. See the next section for more information.

In 2018, NSYERDA’s low-income programs achieved 618 MWh and 0.13 MMtherms savings for RG&E service territory. Spending value and number of customers served by their 2018 programs were not available.

The City of Rochester offers the Home Rehabilitation and Repairs Program, which is funded by the City of Rochester Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant program, New York State Affordable Housing Corporation, and HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.

Multifamily Programs

RG&E offers a Multi-Family Energy Efficiency program, which includes free direct install measures such as LED lighting in units and common areas, and faucet aerators and showerheads, water heater pipe wrap. The program also offers rebates for installing additional lighting measures, such as interior LED lamps, fixtures, and exit signs, exterior LED lighting such as wall packs, floodlights, canopy lights, and pole lights, and occupancy sensors.

NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program provides incentives for owners to incorporate energy efficiency into affordable buildings for RG&E customers. A Multifamily Building Solutions Provider will work with the owner to evaluate the building’s systems holistically, creating a customized plan aimed at generating a minimum of 20% source energy savings along with reduced energy bills. For projects that could reach deeper energy savings, the High-Performance Component targets a minimum of 40% source energy savings with a maximum post-construction source energy use intensity (EUI) of 100 kBtu/sq ft./yr.

In 2018, NYSERDA launched the RetrofitNY initiative. The goal of this program is to drive market transformation by industrializing and standardizing the design and construction processes to achieve deep levels of cost compression, which will drive large scale adoption of deep energy and net zero retrofits in multifamily buildings. RetrofitNY approaches retrofits from a whole building perspective and targets multiple health and resiliency benefits as associated outcomes of building work-scope. NYSERDA funds are used in conjunction with other subsidy and financing offered from local, state and federal sources as a financing package coordinated through relevant affordable housing agencies.   

In 2018, RG&E’s multifamily program saved 1,040 MWh and 0.04 MMtherms while serving 5,691 electric and 3,982 natural gas households, while spending $300,059 for electric and $66,783 for gas customers. NYSERDA’s multifamily programs achieved 1,302 MWh and 0.10 MMtherms savings for RG&E customers in 2018. Spending and customers served for NYSERDA programs was not available for 2018.

Last Updated: March 2020

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Rochester Gas & Electric does not provide building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager for multitenant commercial or multifamily buildings. The City of Rochester does not advocate for better access to utility data for ratepayers or the establishment of data-sharing agreements between the city and its utilities.

Last Updated: March 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, RG&E did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

In November 2019, the Mayor of Rochester submitted legislation to the City Council to authorize a community choice aggregation (CCA) program for the community. The City authorized the legislation and is currently pursuing next steps. The CCA will allow the City to select clean, renewable source of energy and would maintain the current utility to distribute the electricity to city customers. The utility will distribute energy while City purchases 100% renewable, clean energy from supplier of choice.

Last Updated: May 2020

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The energy and water utilities do not offer joint energy and water efficiency programs. At this point, the City of Rochester has not established a water savings target or goal.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The water utility has not set specific energy efficiency targets or strategies. The City’s water system does not self-generate its own energy.

Last Updated: March 2020

Score: 11 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

Rochester does not have a sustainable transportation plan but has a variety of efforts that target reduction of transportation GHG and energy consumption include a bicycle master plan and expansion to the regional transportation system.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

Rochester does not have a VMT/GHG target in place for the transportation sector.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

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

Last Updated: March 2020

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The city has a hybrid zoning code; Euclidian and form-based zoning, which supports elements of transit-oriented development.

Residential Parking Policies

Rochester has parking maximums citywide and doesn’t require parking minimums in the center city district and harbor village district.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Rochester offers faster permitting for projects that come in in compliance with zoning for mixed use development.  

Last Updated: March 2020

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

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

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Rochester does not track progress towards their mode shift target.

Complete Streets

Rochester’s complete streets policy scored an 74.4 out of 100 according to the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Car Sharing

Rochester does not have a parking policy in place for car sharing vehicles.

Bike Sharing

Zagster, Rochester's bike share partner,operates 340 bikes spread across 46 stations throughout the city. There are approximately 164.8  bikes per 100,000 residents available through this program.  

Last Updated: May 2020

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve the City of Rochester have received $97,350,832 on average annually between 2014 and 2018. That equates to roughly $90.89 per capita between 2014 and 2018 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 Rochester Transit Connectivity Index value is 6.5, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: May 2020

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

Rochester will be able to purchase additional electric vehicles under the new Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative, an initiative of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, or “Climate Mayors.”

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

We were not able to confirm if Rochester currently offer incentives for the installing of EV charging infrastructure. The city has however installed 36 EV charging ports in public parking lots to incentivize EV adoption and use. 

EV Charging Locations

The City has 55 charging stations available for public use, equivalent to 26.7 stations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

We were not able to confirm if Rochester has any incentives for renewable EV charging infrastructure installation. However, the city’s electric grid mix is comprised of more than 85% renewables so any existing charging stations are already drawing on comparatively clean energy sources.

Last Updated: May 2020

Freight System EfficiencyList All

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

Last Updated: March 2020

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

Rochester does not have any policies to preserve affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Rochester has received funding for an electric car share program and is working on the details of implementing the program. The program will include expanding clean mobility options for low- and moderate-income households in the city.

Last Updated: March 2020