State and Local Policy Database

San Diego

City Scorecard Rank


San Diego, CA

49.50Scored out of 100Updated 10/2020
Local Government Score:
4 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 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 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: September 2020

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 municipal fleet is composed of 4% of efficient vehicles, including hybrid and battery electric. 

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 will occur in 2020 and will include another 3,800 outdoor fixture upgrades, bringing the total to 69%.

Onsite renewable systems 

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

Inclusive procurement 

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

Last updated: March 2020

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.

Comprehensive Retrofit Strategy

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: July 2020

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 6 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: March 2020

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 near-term 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.

This section applies only to community-wide energy data reporting. For information on data reporting due to building energy benchmarking and disclosure policies, click on the Buildings tab.

Last updated: September 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: August 2020

Clean Distributed Energy SystemsList All

The city has not adopted a formal policy, rule, or agreement that supports the creation of clean distributed energy systems.

Last updated: March 2020

Mitigation of Urban 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 15% of the city’s land by 2020 and to 35% 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: August 2020

Buildings Policies
Score: 12 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: September 2020

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.

Low-energy use requirements

San Diego requires new municipal buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification. 

Last Updated: September 2020

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList 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 city staff are responsible for plan review. The city provides upfront support in the form of the preliminary review service.

Last Updated: September 2020

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.

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

Last Updated: September 2020

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

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

Last Update: September 2020

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.

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: March 2020

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2018, San Diego Gas & Electric reported 441,209 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 2.35% of its retail sales across the utility’s entire service jurisdiction, not only San Diego. In 2018, SDG&E spent $76,419,000 on energy efficiency programs, which represents 2.01% of its retail revenue.

In 2018, SDG&E reported 1.38 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 0.36% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. In 2018, SDG&E spent $8,215,506 on energy efficiency, which equates to $9.60 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: March 2020

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.

In 2018, according to SDG&E, it achieved 5,515 MWh and 0.17 MMtherms in energy savings, while spending $12,851,046 and $9,929,483 on its electric and natural gas low-income programs, respectively. SDG&E served 21,387 electric customers and 21,388 natural gas customers.

Multifamily Programs

In 2018, SDG&E offered three multifamily programs: Multifamily Energy Efficiency Rebates (MFEER), Comprehensive Manufactured-Mobile Homes (CMMH) and the Multifamily High Opportunity Pilot Program (MF-HOPP). 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 & CMMH 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. MF-HOPPs specifically targeted multifamily properties built in or prior to 1980, with 50 plus residents and that showed potential to exceed a 10% savings threshold through a pre-qualifying benchmark analysis. The MF-HOPPs program introduced new common area measure categories and encourages the early replacement thereof by offering such products as LED lighting and fixtures, variable speed pool pumps, pool and spa LED lighting, refrigeration vending machine controllers, and central boilers for domestic hot water at no cost to the end-use customer.

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 2018, according to SDG&E, it achieved 2,327 MWh and 0.012 in energy savings, while spending $5,911,885 on its electric multifamily programs and $656,876 on its natural gas multifamily programs, while serving 1,086 multifamily properties.

Last Updated: March 2020

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. 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 2020

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2018, SDG&E provided $957,927 in incentives for the installation of 319 kW of new distributed solar systems to 102 single-family homes, 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 launched the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program 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.

San Diego is the largest city in America to pursue a Clean Energy Community Choice (CCA) program. Plans are currently in place to establish a regional joint powers agreement that will include Chula Vista, La Mesa, Encinitas and Imperial Beach. The five-city regional JPA would be the second largest CCA in California, behind only the Clean Power Alliance in the Los Angeles area. 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: March 2020

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. 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 (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 0.430MW. The Department’s Water Branch has multiple solar generation facilities. The Alvarado Water Treatment Plant has 0.95MW privatized solar system. The Otay Water Treatment Plant has 0.80MW privatized solar system, and the Bayview Reservoir has a City-owned 0.160MW solar system.

Last Updated: March 2020

Score: 14 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