State and Local Policy Database


City Scorecard Rank


Worcester, MA

22.50Scored out of 100Updated 8/2019
Local Government Score:
4 out of 9 points
Local Government Climate and Energy Goals List All

The City of Worcester adopted its Climate Action Plan in 2007. The Plan includes climate and energy actions for both the community and municipal operations.  

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for municipal operations.

Energy Reduction Goal

Worcester participates in the Better Buildings Challenge to achieve an energy use reduction of 20% below 2009 levels by 2020. The city is also a designated Massachusetts Green Community. The designation requires the city to commit to a 20% energy use reduction in municipal operations over five years.

Renewable Energy Goal

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

Last updated: March 2019

Procurement and Construction List All

Fleet Policies and Composition 

As part of its Green Community designation commitment, the City committed (via an internal Policy document, signed in 2010) to purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles for municipal use whenever such vehicles are commercially available and practicable. We were unable to find data on Worcester’s fleet composition. 

Public Lighting

Worcester has not adopted a policy requiring efficient outdoor lighting, such as the International Dark-Sky Association’s Model Lighting Ordinance, but the City has followed some provisions and best management practices. The City replaced lights it its public garages, parks and parking lots, following over 13,000 of its streetlights with LEDs. The latter are down-facing fixtures causing less light spill than the replaced high-pressure sodium and metal halide light fixtures. All lighting uses a program-based astrological clock to turn lights on and off within 30 minutes of dusk and dawn. Additionally, lights have photocells to turn the lights on in the event that darkness carries past astrological clock dusk and dawn times in order to maintain appropriate light levels. 

Green Building Requirements 

We could not confirm if Worcester has adopted a green building policy requiring municipal buildings to exceed city-wide energy codes or obtain green building certification.

Last updated: March 2019

Asset Management List All

Building Benchmarking and Retrofitting 

Worcester benchmarks all municipal energy use through a MassEnergyInsight tool. The City has been using an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) since 2010 to conduct comprehensive retrofits across its 92 buildings.

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: March 2019

Community-Wide Initiatives
Score: 1.5 out of 16 points
Community-Wide Summary List All

The City of Worcester released the Climate Action Plan in 2006.

Last updated: June 2019

Community-Wide Climate Mitigation and Energy GoalsList All

Climate Mitigation Goal

The city does not have a climate mitigation or greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.

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 does not report 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

Worcester currently has 10.5 megawatts of solar capacity spanning 15 installations. The city placed 10 solar systems on public schools and one has placed on top of a former landfill.

Last updated: June 2019

Mitigation of Urban Heat Islands List All

The city does not have a quantitative urban heat island mitigation goal, but the Climate Action Plan acknowledges strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect.

We could not verify if the city has policies or programs that mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Last updated: June 2019

Buildings Policies
Score: 6 out of 30 points
Buildings Summary List All

The City of Worcester enforces the state’s energy codes, but has adopted a state-determined stretch code. The city has not established a comprehensive energy code compliance verification process nor adopted a mandatory benchmarking policy. Worcester does not offer incentives for energy projects. The city does not require above-code energy-saving actions

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code AdoptionList All


The State of Massachusetts requires all buildings to be consistent with 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)/ASHRAE 90.1-2013, but grants municipalities the authority to adopt a state-determined stretch code. Worcester adopted this stretch code in 2010.  To learn more about Massachusetts’s required energy codes, please visit the State Policy Database.


Commercial properties must comply with the 2015 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2013. The city’s zEPI score for their commercial energy code is 49.8. 


Residential properties must comply with the 2015 IECC/ASHRAE 90.1-2013. The city’s zEPI score for their residential energy code is 48.9

Solar- and EV-ready

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Building Energy Code Enforcement and ComplianceList All

Worcester does not have any full time employees solely dedicated to energy code enforcement. The city does not require plan reviews, site inspections, nor performance testing as a means of compliance verification. The city does not offer upfront support for energy code compliance.

Last Updated: March 2019

Benchmarking, Rating, & Transparency List All

Commercial and multifamily

Worcester does not have a benchmarking, rating, and disclosure policy for commercial and/or multifamily properties.


The city has not adopted a single-family benchmarking and disclosure policy.

Last Updated: March 2019

Incentives and Financing for Efficient Buildings and Renewable EnergyList All

Worcester does not offer any incentives for energy efficiency, solar energy, nor low-income energy improvement projects.

Last Updated: March 2019

Required Energy ActionsList All

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workforce DevelopmentList All

Worcester provided funding for the South Middlesex Opportunity Council's Green Jobs Academy. The academy provided free or low-cost building science training to youth and low-income individuals. 

Last Updated: June 2019

Energy & Water Utilities
Score: 7 out of 15 points
Energy & Water Utilities Summary List All

National Grid, an investor-owned utility (IOU), is the primary electric utility for the City of Worcester. The primary natural gas supplier for Worcester is Eversource, an IOU. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires spending and savings targets for its utilities through an EERS. To learn more about utility policies and programs for the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, please visit the State Policy Database.

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Electric & Gas Energy Efficiency Programs and SavingsList All

In 2017, National Grid MA reported 724,272 MWh of net electric savings at the meter, which represents 3.64% of its retail sales. In 2017, Eversource reported 6.90 MMtherms of net natural gas savings at the meter, which represents 2.09% of its retail sales across the utility’s service territory. These savings figures cover both utilities’ entire service jurisdiction, not just Worcester. Eversource offers natural gas efficiency incentives and technical assistance to residential customers. National Grid similarly offers electric efficiency programs to residential and business customers. Both utilities also sponsor whole-building programs, including multifamily buildings, through the state-wide Mass Save program. Their “whole facility” approach focuses on a facility’s thermal envelope (shell insulation and air leakage conditions for units heated by natural gas or electricity) as well as lighting and mechanical systems.

At this time, the City of Worcester does not have a formal partnership with National Grid or Eversource in the form of a jointly-developed or administered energy saving strategy, plan, or agreement.

Last Updated: March 2019

Low-Income & Multifamily EE Programs List All

Low-Income Programs

The state of Massachusetts is served by the Low-Income Energy Affordability Network (LEAN), which is a network of Community Action Agencies, public and private housing owners, government organizations and public utilities that work together to provide low-income efficiency solutions in the state. Through LEAN, National Grid and Eversource participate in the dual fuel Low-Income Single-Family Core Initiative and Multifamily Initiative, which are available to qualified low-income residential customers. The single-family program provides no-cost energy efficiency measures to residential customers living in one- to four-unit dwellings in which at least 50% of the occupants have incomes at or below 60% of the state median income. Eligible measures for this program include insulation, air sealing, repairing or replacing heating systems, health and safety wares, water efficiency measures, and lighting fixtures.

The program targets high energy users and elderly households and also streamlines eligibility requirements by automatically enrolling customers on the discount rate or who receive LIHEAP funds. The initiative is implemented by local Community Action Program (CAP) Agencies and is integrated with the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). There is also a statewide Energy Efficiency Advisory Council and a Multifamily Advisory Committee that provide guidance on low-income utility-sponsored programs in the state.

In 2017, according to National Grid, it achieved 216,732 MWh energy savings from its low-income programs while serving 12,728 low-income customers. In 2017, according to Eversource, it achieved 0.39 MMtherms of energy savings from its low-income programs, while serving 21,716 low-income customers.

Multifamily Programs

National Grid offers the Multi-Family Retrofit core initiative, which provides comprehensive energy efficiency services to market rate properties with five or more dwelling units. The initiative offers energy assessments that identify energy savings opportunities throughout the facility. An Energy Action Plan (“EAP”) is developed for each facility, identifying all energy efficiency opportunities regardless of fuel source. Historically, this initiative has provided incentives for cost effective gas and electric measures. The PAs anticipate the addition of oil measures and other deliverable fuels, pending issuance of updated RCS regulations. Incentives include (but are not limited to) lighting, shell improvements, heating, cooling, and water heating equipment and controls. The Multi-Family Retrofit core initiative is part of an emerging set of relatively new efficiency program designs across the nation working to serve this unique building sector.

National Grid and Eversource jointly offer the Low-Income Multi-Family Retrofit core initiative provides cost-effective, residential energy efficiency improvements that benefit income-eligible occupants and owners of multi-family buildings. Energy efficiency products and services are implemented within the common areas as well as directly in the dwellings of residential, income eligible customers living in multi-family facilities (with 5 or more attached units), in which at least 50 percent of the occupants are at or below 60 percent of the state median income level. The Program Administrators will provide up to 100 percent of the funding for cost effective projects with established caps based on projected savings. Low-Income Multi-Family properties owned by public housing authorities, non-profit organizations as well as for-profit organizations are eligible to participate. The initiative targets residential customers on the discount rate and/or customers living in multi-family facilities with five or more dwelling units in which at least 50 percent of the occupants are at or below 60 percent of the state median income level in addition to the landlords and property managers of these buildings. Any changes to eligibility criteria will be addressed collectively between the PAs, LEAN, lead agencies and CAP agencies.

In 2017, according to National Grid, it achieved 17,414 MWh energy savings from its multifamily programs, while serving 15,008 multifamily customers. In 2017, according to Eversource, it saved 0.41 MMtherms of energy from its multifamily programs, while serving 26,510 multifamily customers.

Last Updated: March 2019

Provision of Energy Data by UtilitiesList All

Neither National Grid nor Eversource provides building managers with automated benchmarking data through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. However, they both provide technical assistance for Portfolio Manager, which includes assistance collecting proper data and entering in facility information. At this time, the City of Worcester 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 2019

Renewable Energy Efforts of Energy UtilitiesList All

Renewable Energy Incentives

In 2017, National Grid did not provide renewable energy incentives for the construction of new distributed solar or wind systems.

City-Led Efforts to Decarbonize the Electric Grid

At this time, we cannot confirm if city of Worcester participates in activities or strategies to help spur or encourage more utility-scale or distributed renewable energy generation from its local electric utility, such as testifying in public utility commission proceedings related to renewable energy, creating a formal partnership with the electric utility on renewable generation, or participating in utility planning efforts to increase renewable generation.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficiency Efforts in Water ServicesList All

City-wide water efficiency and goals

Although the energy and water utilities do not offer joint energy and water efficiency programs, National Grid does offer rebates and incentives for water and energy saving technologies. Eversource does not partner with the water department, but it does offer water savings through existing energy efficiency programs.  However, no incentives have been provided for any measure that only saves water. At this point, the City of Worcester 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 2019

Score: 4 out of 30 points
Sustainable Transportation Planning List All

Sustainable Transportation Plan

The city's Climate Action Plan includes a transportation section. The plan includes strategies to reduce VMT, like increasing employee carpooling, increasing public transport ridership, and increasing walking and biking.

VMT/GHG Targets and Stringency

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

Progress Achieved Toward VMT/GHG Targets

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Location Efficiency List All

Location Efficient Zoning Codes

The city’s Commercial Corridors Overlay District’s intent is to encourage compact, pedestrian friendly development that is physically and functionally integrated through site design, dimensional and parking standards that limit parking, provide flexibility for development initiatives and provide incentives for mixed-use development.

Residential Parking Policies

Lower parking minimum requirements and parking maximums are established in the Commercial Corridor Overlay District, which includes downtown and mixed-use neighborhoods radiating out from the downtown along arterial corridors

Location Efficiency Incentives and Disclosure

Worcester does not have location efficiency incentives or disclosure requirements.

Last Updated: March 2019

Mode Shift List All

Mode Shift Targets

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

Progress Achieved Toward Mode Shift Targets

Worcester does not track progress towards their mode shift target.

Complete Streets

Worcester adopted a complete streets policy in 2018.

Car Sharing

Worcester does not have 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

Worcester spends an average of $25.64 per capita on transit.

Access to Transit Services

The city has an All Transit Performance score of 4.8 out of 10.

Last Updated: March 2019

Efficient VehiclesList All

Vehicle Purchase Incentives

At this time, Worcester does not offer incentives for citizens to purchase hybrid, plug-in, or EV vehicles.

Vehicle Infrastructure Incentives

Worcester does not currently offer incentives for the installing of EV charging infrastructure.

EV Charging Locations

Worcester has 7 publicly available EV charging locations per 100,000 people.

Renewable Charging Incentives

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

Last Updated: March 2019

Freight System EfficiencyList All

Worcester 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

Worcester does not have any requirements or incentives in place to encourage the development or preservation of affordable housing in transit-served areas.

Connecting Existing Affordable Housing Stock to Efficient Transportation Options

Worcester does not provide any subsidies for efficient transportation options to low-income residents.

Low-Income Access to High Quality Transit

0% of low-income households (those that earn less than $50k annually) are located near high-quality, all-day transit in Worcester.

Last Updated: March 2019