State and Local Policy Database

San Diego

City Scorecard Rank


San Diego, CA

58.50Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
6 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan includes climate and energy actions for municipal operations. The city recently released the 2018 Annual Report for the Climate Action Plan. 

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city’s Climate Action Plan established a municipal emissions reduction goal of 50% below 2010 levels by 2035, with interim goals of 15% below 2010 levels by 2020 and 40% below 2010 levels by 2030. ACEEE does not project the city will achieve its GHG emissions reduction goal for local government operations. 

Energy Reduction Goal

The Climate Action Plan includes a goal to reduce energy use 25% below 2010 levels by 2035, with an interim reduction goal of 15% below 2010 levels by 2020. The city also participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to achieve an energy use reduction of 20% below 2010 levels by 2023.

Renewable Energy Goal

The Climate Action Plan also includes a goal to use 100% renewable energy citywide by 2035.

Last updated: June 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition

Current policy (Administrative Regulation 90.73) calls for all new vehicles to be 50% better than CAFE standards by 2020 and for a 5% reduction in vehicle miles traveled compared to the previous year. The policy also calls for operating all vehicles in a manner that ensures maximum fuel conservation including keeping tires inflated to the recommended pressure, using air conditioning selectively, and minimizing public vehicle idling. Additionally, this policy commits the city to investigate the benefit, availability and use of lower carbon fuels, low emission & zero emission vehicles, including but not limited to Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, Partial Zero Emission Vehicles, and Zero Emission Vehicles such as electric vehicles. Additionally, San Diego’s Climate Action Plan sets a goal that 50% of municipal vehicles are zero-emission vehicles by 2020, followed by 90% by 2035. San Diego’s fleet is currently composed of 3% efficient vehicles, including hybrid and battery electric vehicles.

Public Lighting

San Diego’s Ordinance 20186 requires efficient outdoor lighting. The City’s Street Division maintains over 40,000 street lights and approximately 88% of streetlights have been upgrades to LEDs. In 2019, the remainder of lights will be upgraded. 

Green Building Requirements

Among the directives of San Diego’s Sustainable Building Policy (Council Policy 900-14) there is a commitment that all new city-funded facilities and major building renovation projects (more than 5,000 square feet) achieve LEED Silver certification and be constructed to be 15% more energy efficient than California's building code. 

Last updated: June 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting

In the City of San Diego, energy use is monitored and benchmarked using a Smart Energy Management and Monitoring System, the City is in the process of compiling municipal assets into Portfolio Manager. Currently, 747 properties have been entered into Portfolio Manager and are actively being updated. The DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge requires the City to benchmark and report 80% of its building portfolio’s total square footage on an annual basis. The Climate Action Plan directs the City to form a Municipal Energy Strategy, which will include a comprehensive retrofit strategy for public buildings along with opportunities to integrate renewable energy installations and other emerging clean technologies. The Municipal Energy Strategy will be completed in 2018 and an Implementation Plan will be drafted in early 2019.

Public Workforce Commuting

San Diego has a flexible schedule and telecommuting policy for City employees in place.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 7.5 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of San Diego adopted the Climate Action Plan in 2015 and has release annual reports on progress made towards goal established by the plan.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The Climate Action Plan established a greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of 50% below 2010 levels by 2035, with interim reduction goals of 15% by 2020 and 40% by 2030. ACEEE does not project the city will achieve its community-wide GHG emissions reduction goal. 

Greenhouse gas inventories are included in the annual reports.

Energy Reduction Goal

The Climate Action Plan set a goal to reduce energy use by 15% per housing unit in 20% of residential units by 2020 and 50% of units by 2035.

Renewable Energy Goal

San Diego’s Climate Action Plan includes a goal to generate 100% of its community-wide energy from renewable sources by 2035.

Energy Data Reporting

The 2018 Annual Report Appendix includes community-wide energy data.

Last updated: June 2019

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

Equity-Driven Community Engagement

We were unable to determine whether permanent city staff have taken a unique and expanded approach in conducting outreach for multiple clean energy initiatives to marginalized groups compared with outreach to 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: June 2019

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

The city streamlined its solar photovoltaic permitting process.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The city’s Climate Action Plan establishes an urban heat island mitigation goal to increase urban tree canopy coverage to 15% of the city’s land by 2020 and to 35% by 2035.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 19 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of San Diego adheres to California’s energy policies including energy code, solar- and EV-readiness, and benchmarking. The city offers several incentives and financing programs for energy efficiency and solar projects.

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of California allows its local jurisdictions to adopt building energy codes more stringent than the mandatory state codes. Title 24 outlines all California building codes. Title 24, Part 6 includes the California Energy Code and the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards (BEES). Title 24, Part 11 includes the California Green Building Code. The 2016 codes exceed the 2015 IECC standards and ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2013. To learn more about California’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties comply with the 2016 California Building Standards Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 51.7.


Residential properties comply with the 2016 California Building Standards Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 59.6.

Solar- and EV-ready

San Diego adheres to the solar- and EV-ready requirements already included in the California Building Standards Code.

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

San Diego has an unspecified number of internal staff solely dedicated to energy code compliance. State code CalGreen 5.410.1 requires commissioning of all new nonresidential buildings greater than 10,000 square feet and city staff are responsible for plan review. The city provides upfront support in the form of the preliminary review service.

Last Updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

The State of California adopted Assembly Bill (AB) 802 in October of 2015. AB 802 requires commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 50,000 square feet and greater to benchmark energy usage annually. AB 802 covers 64% of commercial and 70% of multifamily buildings. This city is currently exploring the feasibility of adopting its own benchmarking ordinance.


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

Last Update: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

San Diego offers eight incentives and financing options for both energy efficiency and solar projects.

Through Resolution R-298001, the city offers expedited permitting to residential and commercial projects that meet green building standards outlined in Policy Number 900-14.

Commercial and residential property owners may access property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for both energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations.

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

San Diego has not adopted a policy requiring building owners to conduct any additional above-code energy-saving actions.

Last Update: March 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

The city has partnered with GRID Alternatives to develop the Solar Installer Apprentice Program. 

Last Update: March 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 13.5 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary gas and electric utility for the City of San Diego. The City of San Diego is an active promoter of SDG&E’s energy efficiency programs. The State of California requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS and requires local government- utility partnerships through mandate by the California PUC. To learn more about the state requirements for electric and gas efficiency, please visit the California page of the State Database. On the state level, San Diego advocates for additional spending requirements for natural gas efficiency projects.

The Water Branch of the Department of Utilities provides drinking water services to the City of San Diego, and the Wastewater branch treats the wastewater. The Storm Water Division of the Transportation and Stormwater Department manages the city’s stormwater.

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, according to SDG&E, they achieved 440,258 MWh in net incremental savings, representing 2.32% of retail sales. In 2017, SDG&E reported savings of 1.64 MMtherms from natural gas efficiency programs, representing 0.43% of its retail sales. These savings figures cover SDG&E’s entire service jurisdiction, not just San Diego. SDG&E offers natural gas and electric efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential and commercial/industrial customers.

The Local Government Partnership is a formal partnership formed between the City and SDG&E to jointly strategize, plan, and administer energy efficiency and other demand side management initiatives in the City. Energy efficiency projects target electricity, natural gas, and water savings. The City of San Diego partners with SDG&E in promoting many electric and gas efficiency programs available to all sectors of residences and businesses in the city.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

SDG&E offers the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) Program, which provides renters or owners with energy-efficient lighting, water efficiency measures, health and safety measures, door and window replacement, appliance upgrades, insulation, weatherstripping, and caulking. SDG&E also offers the Middle Income Direct Install (MIDI) Program to qualified residential customers. This program provides no-cost energy efficiency measures to customers who meet income eligibility criteria (201-300% of the federal poverty line) within SDG&E’s service territory. SDG&E also partners with over 200 community partners to reach eligible customers, as well as 2-1-1 San Diego who provides enrolment services for SDG&E’s ESA program in addition to other state and local programs. SDG&E streamlines eligibility requirements for customers enrolled in other bill assistance programs. In addition, SDG&E leverages local LIHEAP agency dollars to provide health and safety repairs and services not offered through the ESA program, such as water heaters for renters.

In 2017, according to SDG&E, it achieved 3,619 MWh and 0.22 MMtherms in energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 21,677 customers.

Multifamily Programs

SDG&E offers the Multifamily Properties Energy-Efficiency Rebates Program. This comprehensive program provides rebates for the installation of energy efficient products in apartment buildings, mobile home parks and condominium complexes. Rebates are available for products installed in both common areas and units. In 2017, the program included AC diagnostics, duct testing and sealing, low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, tier-2 smart power strips, occupancy sensors, furnace and tankless water heater upgrades, and LED lighting in units and common areas. The City formally partners with SDG&E to target the multifamily sector.

In 2017, according to SDG&E, it achieved 5,457 MWh and 0.03 MMtherms in energy savings from its multifamily program, while serving 26,219 multifamily customers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

SDG&E has implemented an automated benchmarking service. Building owners opt into this program by creating meters in Portfolio Manager and completing a request for automated data. SDG&E sends 36 months of historical usage data to Portfolio Manager and monthly updates on an ongoing automated basis. SDG&E signed on with the City of San Diego to partner on the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Initiative, Energy Data Accelerator, to facilitate better access to energy usage data. The City has also been working with SDG&E through the State’s Energy Data Access Committee to improve data accessibility.

Last Updated: March 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, SDG&E provided $655,500 in incentives for the installation of 218.5 kW of new distributed solar systems, equating to $3,000/kW installed. These incentives were paid for the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program. The SASH program provides one up-front capacity-based incentive of $3 per watt to qualified low-income homeowners for the installation of solar systems. SDG&E plans to launch the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program is set to in early 2019, which will offer between $0.60 to $3.20 per watt. SOMAH is a statewide program that aims to install 30 MW of generating capacity by 2030, making solar accessible to low-income ratepayers in the state.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The city of San Diego is engaged in various regulatory proceedings at the California Public Utility Commission. The City advocates on behalf of the City and/or the community to encourage more renewable generation adoption. The City advocated in the Net Energy Metering proceeding for grandfathering of older net metering rates that the City used to calculate its cost-benefit analysis. The City also participated the regulatory process involving exit fees, which are fees charged to customers who buy electricity from government-run community choice programs rather than traditional utilities.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

The City of San Diego’s Department of Water Utilities offers water use calculators for household and landscape use. There are also rebate programs available for micro irrigation, turf removal, and rain barrels. The City of San Diego is also a member of the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), which has been partnering with SDG&E for more than twenty years on administering water efficiency programs, such as low-flow showerheads, small business water efficiency equipment, leak loss detection, and education and outreach.

The City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan has several water savings targets and long-term strategies to reach those targets. One target is to reduce daily per capita water consumption by 4 gallons by 2020 and 9 gallons by 2035 below 2010 levels. Action 1.3 of the Climate Action Plan directs the City to support water rate structures that provide pricing signals that encourage water conservation and reuse. Action 1.4 directs the City to present to City Council for considerations a Water Conservation and Disclosure Ordinance. The core strategy is to implement an Outdoor Landscaping Ordinance that requires use of weather-based irrigation controllers.

Supporting strategies to meet these targets are to record the annual volume percentage of recycled water used and planned to be introduced through 2035 and pursue additional financial resources and incentives for implementing energy and water efficiency measures identified by the conservation and ordinances, and to promote the expansion of greywater systems.

The City is also launching Pure Water San Diego, a phased, multi-year program that will provide one-third of San Diego's water supply locally by 2035. The Pure Water Program will use proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. The program offers a cost-effective investment for San Diego's water needs and will provide a reliable, sustainable water supply.

Water plant efficiency and self-generation

The City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan encompasses both local water and wastewater utilities’ operations and include targets to reduce energy consumption at municipal facilities by 15% by 2020 and an additional 25% by 2035 below 2010 levels. Strategies to reach these targets include implementing a Smart Energy Management & Monitoring System for facilities to monitor and track energy consumption and using those results to identify opportunities for great efficiency and demand response along with pursuing LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance Certification for municipal facilities. San Diego just completed its CAP 2018 Annual Report, on progress towards its CAP goals.

Since 2000, the Public Utilities Department has maintained a California Energy Commission-trained Energy Audit Team. Nearly all of the Department's major facilities have energy audit reports. The Department has invested an average of $400,000 per year in energy efficiency projects which have upgraded almost all of its emergency generators, department-owned administration buildings, as well as many of its largest pump stations and wastewater treatment plants. Projects have included lighting re-lamping and control, air conditioning system improvements, and process improvements.

The City of San Diego’s Wastewater Branch has a multiple self-generating facilities and projects. The City also has a goal to capture 98% wastewater treatment gases by 2035. At the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, methane gas is captured to fuel three generators for a total capacity of 5.7 MW. The system also produces heat which is used to heat the plant’s digesters. Methane capture is also utilized on two other sites, the Metro Bio solids Center (MBC) and the North City Water Reclamation Plant (NCWRP). The MBC has a cogeneration capacity of 6.4 MW and the NCWRP has a cogeneration capacity of 3.8 MW. The Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant has an adjacent 1.35 MW hydroelectric plant that captures the energy of the treated wastewater discharge as it flows down a 90 foot-drop from the plant to the ocean outfall.

Last Updated: March 2019

Score: 12.5 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the city of San Diego is the San Diego Assocation of Governments (SANDAG).TIts area of jurisdiction encompasses San Diego, and 17 other surrounding cities and counties.

Last updated: January 2017

Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

San Diego’s Climate Action Plan has a comprehensive plan to reduce VMTs through increasing the use of mass transit, implementing pedestrian improvements in Transit Priority Area to increase commuter walking opportunities, implementing the City’s Bicycle Master Plan to increase commuter bicycle opportunities, and promoting effective land use to reduce VMTs.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

San Diego has a goal to reduce transportation GHG by 23% by 2035 from a 2010 baseline. This is equivalent to a 0;9% reduction per year.

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

San Diego tracks progress towards its GHG target.

Last Updated: March 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

San Diego’s municipal code includes a transit overlay and urban village overlay for the development of walkable, mixed-use communities. 

Residential Parking Policies

Reduced parking is allowed for studio apartments and in multifamily buildings.

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

As an incentive to promote location-efficient real estate development, the Affordable/In-fill Housing and Sustainable Buildings Expedite Program allows expedited permit processing for affordable infill housing developments that have ten or more proposed units and are located within designated urbanized areas.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

San Diego has codified goals as part of the Climate Action Plan that include increases in walking commuter share, bicycle commuter share, and public transit commuter share by 2020 and 2035.

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

The city has seen increases in all targeted modes between 2010 and 2017.

Complete Streets

San Diego does not currently have a complete streets policy.

Car Sharing

We could not confirm if San Diego has a parking policy in place for car sharing vehicles.

Bike Sharing

The city has 0 docked bike share bikes per 100,000 people.

Last Updated: May 2019

Transit List All

Transportation Funding

San Diego spends an average of $45.51 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 6.0 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

SDG&E offers purchase incentives for electric vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

SDG&E has the Power Your Drive program that provides incentives for installing electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

San Diego has 19.02 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Clean, Efficient Transportation for Low-Income CommunitiesList All

Affordable New TOD Housing Policy

The city has reduced parking requirements for low-income housing built near transit.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

At this time, San Diego does not provide any rebates or discounts to efficient transportation for low-income residents.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

49.0% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in San Diego.     

Last Updated: April 2019