State and Local Policy Database

San Diego

City Scorecard Rank


San Diego, CA

47.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 5 out of 15 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: September 2021

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. Based on ACEEE’s analysis of past years emissions data, ACEEE projects that the city will achieve 75% of the per-capita emissions reductions required to achieve its 2030 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.

Last updated: September 2021

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.

Equity Accountability Measures

San Diego developed the Climate Equity Index to track the level of resident access to opportunities and the potential impact of climate change in census tracts. 

Last updated: September 2021

Clean Distributed Energy ResourcesList All

San Diego agreed to host eight solar-plus-storage microgrids on city facilities. 

Last updated: September 2021

Mitigation of Heat Islands List All

UHI Mitigation Goal

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

UHI Policies and Programs

We were unable to determine if the city has adopted specific policies or programs that incorporate requirements or incentives to mitigate the urban heat island effect. 

Last updated: September 2021

Buildings Policies
Score: 12.5 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: June 2021

Building Energy CodesList 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 2019 codes exceed the 2015 IECC standards and ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2016. To learn more about California’s building energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties comply with the 2019 California Building Standards Code. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 51.7.


Residential properties comply with the 2019 California Building Standards Code. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 59.6.

Solar-readiness policies 

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

EV-charging readiness and infrastructure policies

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

Low-energy use requirements

San Diego requires new municipal buildings and all new buildings and major renovations over 5,000 square feet to achieve LEED Silver certification. 


Last Updated: June 2021

Building Energy Code Compliance and EnforcementList All

San Diego does not have 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 the third-party commissioning includes functional performance testing, plan review, field inspection. City staff are responsible for plan review. The city provides upfront support in the form of the preliminary review service.

Last Updated: June 2021

Policies Targeting Existing BuildingsList All

Commercial and multifamily benchmarking

San Diego's Building Energy Benchmarking Ordinance requires commercial and multifamily buildings greater than 50,000 square feet and greater to benchmark energy usage annually. 


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. The city also provides expedited permitting for renewable energy. 

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

Last Updated: June 2021

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

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

Last Update: June 2021

Score: 13 out of 30 points
Transportation Summary List All

The transportation authority serving the city of San Diego is the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).Its 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

The City monitors its GHG inventory during the Climate Action Plan updating process annually. The City also has a specific greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for its transportation sector. One goal is to reduce average vehicle commute distance by two miles through implementation of the General Plan City of Village Strategy by 2035 and another is to reduce emissions 109,576 MT/CO2e by 2035. The City receives VMT data from SANDAG and is currently in the process of developing internal processes for compiling and analyzing this data. Quantitative progress can be found in the CAP 2018 Annual Report and the 2018 Annual Report Appendix.

Last Updated: December 2021

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. Zero minimum parking space requirements for multi-family residential development within Transit Priority Areas (TPA) defined as areas within ½ of a mile of an existing or planned major transit stop, if the planned major transit stop is scheduled to be completed within the planning horizon in SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP). In addition to the zero minimum parking space requirement, a maximum parking ratio of 1.0 space per unit was adopted for multi-family residential development in Downtown.

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: December 2021

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

Mobility Choices is part of the City of San Diego Complete Communities initiative which aims to connect every San Diegan with safe and convenient mobility options. Active transportation measures include pedestrian scale lighting along public walkways, crosswalks, high visibility, crosswalk striping at adjacent intersection, pedestrian refuges and raised crosswalk, shade trees, pedestrian resting and/or recreation areas, transit stop upgrades, designated car-share or carpool vehicle parking, and the installation of electric bicycle charging stations.

Last Updated: December 2021

Public Transit List All

Transportation Funding

The transportation entities that serve the City of San Diego have received $170,828,504.20 on average annually between 2015 and 2019. That equates to roughly $51.51 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 San Diego's Transit Connectivity Index value is 6, scoring 0.5 points in the City Scorecard.

Last Updated: December 2021

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

The City has 1282 charging ports available for public use, equivalent to 90 ports per 100,000 people.

Electric School Bus Goal

San Diego does not have an electric school bus goal.

EV Transit Bus Goal

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System aims to convert all of the agency’s 800 buses to zero emissions by 2040. MTS currently has six electric buses operating out of its divisions in downtown San Diego and East county.

Last Updated: December 2021

Freight System EfficiencyList All

San Diego does not have a sustainable freight transportation plan in place nor does the city has any policies that address freight efficiency. San Diego does not employ an internet-based application or service to coordinate freight transport.

Last Updated: December 2021

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.

Last Updated: December 2021

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 12.5 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. In 2021, California regulators updated state energy efficiency policies to focus on reducing carbon emissions. The state’s new rule rules value efficiency as a grid and decarbonization resource, encourage utilities to offer more programs that primarily serve communities of color and low-income residents, and encourage workforce development programs. 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.

In November 2018, the City conducted a community choice aggregation (CCA) feasibility study. In September 2019, the City Council approved a joint-powers authority (JPA), along with Chula Vista, La Mesa, Encinitas, and Imperial Beach to create the San Diego Regional Community Choice Energy Authority. The goal of the CCA is to provide clean energy to ratepayers by 2021.

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: July 2021

Electricity and Natural Gas Efficiency SavingsList All

In 2019, San Diego Gas & Electric reported 242,605 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 1.35% of its retail sales across the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not only San Diego. In 2019, SDG&E spent $62,756,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 1.68% of its retail revenue.

In 2019, SDG&E reported 3.72 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 0.77% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2019, SDG&E spent $737,6000 on energy efficiency, which equates to $8.56 per residential customer. These savings figures cover the utility’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: July 2021

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 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. SDG&E partners with over 200 community partners to reach eligible customers.

In 2019, according to SDG&E, it achieved 1,783 MWh and 0.02 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $10,078,869 and $9,005,556 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. SDG&E served 16,271 customers across its low-income electric and natural gas programs in 2019.

Multifamily Programs

SDG&E offers a few multifamily programs: Multifamily Energy Efficiency Rebates (MFEER) and the Comprehensive Mobile Home Program (CMHP).Each of these programs target specific sub-segments within SDG&E’s Residential Multifamily sector and did so at little to no cost to the customer through direct install and co-pay delivery channels. Both MFEER & CMHP offered measures such as AC diagnostics, faucet aerators, low flow showerheads, efficiency fan controllers, refrigeration vending machine controllers, pool & spa LED lights, LEDs lights for common areas, smart programmable thermostats and 48-inch T8 LEDs for common areas at no cost. The program also included tankless water heaters, furnace upgrades and domestic hot water boilers at the co-pay level.

Within its service territory, SDG&E administers and implements a low-income energy efficiency program, known statewide, as the Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP). Within the parameters of ESAP, SDG&E can treat in-unit residences and common areas in multifamily properties. The services offered through ESAP include no cost lighting, air sealing, HVAC repair and replacement, domestic hot water repair and replacement, appliance replacement, and benchmarking.

In 2019, according to SDG&E, it achieved 1,870 MWh and 0.011 in low-income program energy savings, while spending $1,736,282 on its electric multifamily programs and $333,587 on its natural gas multifamily programs. Participation data was not available for 2019.

Last Updated: July 2021

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

SDG&E provides automated benchmarking services. The utility uses the Green Button data sharing platform where customers can access 17 historical months of data upon registration. SDG&E sends 36 months of historical usage data to Portfolio Manager and monthly updates on an ongoing automated basis. SDG&E also provides community energy usage data on a per-request basis. SDG&E has completed their benchmarking request web portal for building-owners to comply with AB802.

The city of San Diego provides community wide energy usage information for planning and evaluation purposes through their Climate Action Plan monitoring process. The 2020 Climate Action Plan annual update indicates the comprehensive energy consumption data per sector.

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: July 2021

Decarbonization and Climate Change Mitigation Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Utility Climate Mitigation Goal

In 2021, SDG&E announced its intention to produce power with zero carbon emissions by the year 2045. The year corresponds to California's target goal to get 100% of its electricity from carbon zero sources. To achieve this goal, SDG&E will need to reduce emissions by 3.85% annually from 2019 levels.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

The City of San Diego initiated the establishment of San Diego Community Power (SDCP), a Community Choice Aggregator that will serve the City of San Diego customers, as well as customers in the cities of Chula Vista, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, and La Mesa. As of summer 2021, SDCP will serve both commercial and residential customers. Additionally, the City is currently negotiating the 50-year electric and gas franchise agreement with SDG&E and intends to leverage the negotiation to increase deployment of renewable and distributed energy generation by the utility.

The city of San Diego is engaged in various regulatory proceedings at the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) and advocates on behalf of the City and/or the community to encourage more renewable generation adoption. The City provided comments in response to the CPUC proceeding addressing microgrids and microgrid tariffs, and 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.

The City of San Diego is also working with SDG&E for renewable energy interconnection. SDG&E has agreed to put excess generation on the grid and receive credit through RES-BCT tariff. To meet the City’s 2015 Climate Action Plan’s goal of 100% renewable by 2035, City has implemented several privatized solar installations interconnected with utility grid where the City buys solar energy at a fixed bundled price which includes the Renewable Energy Certificates.

Last Updated: July 2021

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

Citywide 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. 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.

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 (PLWWTP), methane gas is captured to fuel two generators for a total capacity of 4.57 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 Biosolids Center (MBC) and the North City Water Reclamation Plant (NCWRP). The MBC has two privatized cogeneration total capacity of 9.6 MW, and the NCWRP has two City-owned power generation plants total capacity of 5.39 MW. The PLWWTP 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. At the Metro Operation Complex, Department has two solar systems for a total capacity of 0.430 MW. The Department’s Water Branch has multiple solar generation facilities. The Alvarado Water Treatment Plant has 0.95 MW privatized solar system. The Otay Water Treatment Plant has 0.80 MW privatized solar system, and the Bayview Reservoir has a City-owned 0.160 MW solar system.

Last Updated: July 2021

Local Government Score:
4.5 out of 10 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 2020 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 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

The Climate Action Plan includes a goal to reduce municipal 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 2021

Procurement and Construction Policies 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 municipal fleet is composed of 8.4% efficient vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles. 

Public Lighting

San Diego’s Ordinance 20186 requires efficient outdoor lighting. Approximately 38,000 inefficient fixtures were retrofitted to LEDs in 2012-2013. Phase 1 of the Outdoor Lighting Upgrade and Smart Sensor Installation Project took place from Fall 2018 to Summer 2019 and included 4,792 light fixture retrofits to LED. As such, 63% of the City’s outdoor lighting has been upgraded to LEDs. Phase 2 of the Outdoor Lighting Upgrade and Smart Sensor Installation Project is planned to include another 3,800 outdoor fixture upgrades, bringing the total to 69%.

Onsite and offsite renewable systems 

San Diego has installed 6,000 kW of solar capacity on city facilities.

Inclusive procurement 

We were unable to find information regarding inclusive procurement and contracting processes in San Diego.

Last updated: June 2021

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking 

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. In addition, the City is working on the Smart City Open Urban Platform (SCOUP). SCOUP will automatically track, benchmark, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use across the City's Municipal facilities.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

The Climate Action Plan directed the City to create a Municipal Energy Strategy, which they completed in 2020. The strategy included a comprehensive retrofit strategy for public buildings along with opportunities to integrate renewable energy installations and other clean technologies. The City is drafting the Municipal Energy Strategy Implementation Plan in 2021.

Last updated: May 2021