State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



15.0Scored out of 50Updated 10/2019
State Government
Score: 4.5 out of 6
State Government Summary List All

The state offers a variety of energy efficiency incentives. The state government leads by example by benchmarking energy use and encouraging the use of energy service performance contracts for public buildings. Research and development focused on energy efficiency is conducted at two institutions in the state.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial incentive information for Virginia is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Virginia). Information about additional incentives not present on DSIRE is listed here. The state does enable Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing (PACE), but it does not have any active PACE programs.

Clean Energy Development and Services (CEDS) Program: A $6 million Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) grant and loan program created in January 2016 for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuel projects and programs.

Commonwealth Energy Fund (CEF): This Center for Innovative Technology program provides loans for high-growth potential, early stage Virginia companies capable of driving job creation, reducing energy consumption, increasing energy generation from renewable resources, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Last Updated: July 2018

Carbon Pricing PoliciesList All

The State of Virginia does not yet have carbon pricing policies in place.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place and Virginia statute does not allow localities to require energy benchmarking and disclosure for residential and/or commercial buildings.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Public Building Requirements List All

In the past, Virginia has set several short-term targets for energy savings in state buildings. Executive Order 48, signed on April 5, 2007, directed state agencies to reduce the annual cost of non-renewable energy purchases by at least 20% of fiscal year 2006 expenditures by fiscal year 2010. Executive Order 19, signed by Governor Bob McDonnell on July 1, 2010, directed each state agency to develop and employ efficiency tools with the goal of reducing its annual energy use by at least 5 percent for fiscal year 2012 (compared to fiscal year 2010). Executive Order 31 and the 2014 Virginia Energy Plan directs the State Energy Office to reduce electricity consumption by 15% in state buildings by 2017, from 2010, and work with the Governor's Executive Committee on Energy Efficiency to establish a comprehensive system to measure, verify and track energy consumption in state facilities. The state has developed prototypes for an energy data registry/dashboard that will be used to collect energy consumption data from state agencies. As part of EO 31, the Governor created a Chief Energy Efficiency Officer within the Administration to oversee aggressive implementation of EE measures in state agencies, and instructed executive agencies to engage/re-engage in the Energy Performance Contracting process. The 2014 Virginia Energy Plan includes a recommendation to "create a central state facility energy data registry and dashboard to track energy consumption at all state agencies. The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy created a pilot version of this data warehouse in early 2016 and started in late 2016 a two-year process to develop a full scale benchmarking program for all state buildings. A small percentage, around 5 percent, of the largest energy consumers in the state building fleet, had been benchmarked by the end of 2016 in the pilot referenced above.

EO 19 also directs that new or renovated state buildings should conform to LEED silver or Green Globes two-globe standards.  In addition, the order instructs the Commonwealth to encourage private sector adoption of energy-efficient building standards by giving preference when leasing buildings for state use to facilities meeting the above standards.

Executive Directive 2, signed by Governor McDonnell in 2011, directs three state agencies to create a plan to centralize energy management across state facilities to seek out economies of scale and greater energy efficiencies. This plan shall also encourage communications among agencies on energy best practices and educate state employees about how their actions affect state energy use and costs.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Fleets List All

Executive Order 19, signed by Governor Bob McDonnell in July 2010, expired when the new Governor issued Executive Order 31 in October 2014. State vehicle fleet energy efficiency requirements are not addressed in EO 31. However, the Virginia Department of General Services includes in its policies and procedures guidelines for the purchase of fuel-efficient, low-emission state-owned vehicles, when practicable. In addition, DGS’s leasing vehicles guidelines encourage the use of compact, fuel-efficient, and low-emission vehicles.

The state included in the 2014 Virginia Energy Plan (VEP) a goal to increase the number of natural gas, propane, and electric vehicles in state and local government fleets to 300 by the end of 2017. Virginia’s fleet conversion program directs up to $9 million in federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) and state matching funds to pay the incremental costs of these vehicles. Vehicles that receive this funding must be garaged in areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, carbon monoxide, or particulate matter (nonattainment areas) and for former nonattainment areas that are now in compliance (maintenance areas). 

The Commonwealth also offers temporary “bridge” and long-term loans to state agencies and localities in both non-attainment and attainment areas, as well as loans for alternative fueling and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. These programs support the alternative fuel vehicle recommendation made by a working group of the Virginia Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission.

Virginia Department of General Services includes in its policies and procedures guidelines for the purchase of fuel-efficient, low-emission state-owned vehicles, when practicable. Every state vehicle request begins as the smallest most fuel-efficient vehicle, and larger vehicles must go through additional justification documentation. In addition, DGS’s leasing vehicles guidelines encourage the use of compact, fuel-efficient, and low-emission vehicles.

Note: For state efficient fleet initiatives, policies listed must make a specific, mandatory requirement for increasing state fleet efficiency. State alternative-fuel vehicle procurement requirements that give a voluntary option to count efficient vehicles are thus not included.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) and Department of General Services (DGS) administer under the Virginia Energy Management Program (VEMP) a performance contracting program for state facilities and other public bodies that provides on-site technical assistance; code and safety compliance oversight; a well-defined, low-risk process under a statewide contract; template documents and other resources; and list of a pre-qualified energy service companies. In 2010, Governor McDonnell issued an executive order that requires state agencies to engage with both departments to attain energy efficiency improvements. Executive Directive 2, issued in 2011, directs DMME and DGS to examine conversion of VEMP to a self-sustaining enterprise operation and to create a plan to centralize energy management across state facilities to seek out economies of scale and greater energy efficiencies.

Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Order 31 in October, 2014 that directs all executive branch agencies, authorities, departments, and all institutions of higher education to proactively pursue energy efficiency measures, especially Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) to reduce energy consumption. Agencies already employing EPC should re-evaluate their overall energy consumption to identify areas for further efficiency improvements.  Agencies should utilize the current EPC process, which provides for a general audit to assess whether EPC is appropriate for the agency. Those audits will be conducted with the goal of implementing an EPC by 2016. Since 2015, the state has invested over $192 million dollars in EPCs and has saved over 14 million kWh. DMME has managed a statewide ESPC program since 2002. In 2017, a new statewide contract was advertised and a refreshed list of pre-qualified ESCOs were selected to continue the program.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Research & Development List All

The Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center, formerly known as the Riverstone Energy Centre, offers services supporting commercialization of new clean energy technologies, including energy efficiency. The R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency supports projects in advanced manufacturing and energy efficiency.

The Center for Innovative Technology's Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund invests in research, technology development, and commercialization at Virginia colleges and universities, companies, federal labs and other research institutions to advance high-potential technologies and drive economic development in the Commonwealth.

The state also offers grants to encourage collaboration between private investors and Virginia’s educational institutions to conduct R&D activities in the tobacco regions of the Commonwealth.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Score: 5.5 out of 8
Buildings Summary List All

With an effective date of September 4, 2018, Virginia's Uniform State Building Code (USBC) has been updated to incorporate energy efficiency provisions for commercial buildings of the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2013.  All buildings with permit application date of September 4, 2019 or after must comply. Virginia has completed a baseline compliance study, established a stakeholder advisory group, and offers code trainings.

Residential Codes List All

With an effective date of September 4, 2018, Virginia's Uniform State Building Code (USBC) has been updated to incorporate energy efficiency provisions for commercial buildings of the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2013.  All buildings with permit application date of September 4, 2019 or after must comply.  Residential buildings must meet requirements of the residential provisions of the 2015 IECC, with weakening amendments removing required envelope pressure (blower door) testing and improvements to attic/wall insulation R-values

Residential buildings had previously been required to comply with the 2012 IRC; however, a few technical amendments had rendered the code equivalent to the 2009 IECC.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Commercial Code List All

With an effective date of September 4, 2018, Virginia's Uniform State Building Code (USBC) has been updated to incorporate energy efficiency provisions for commercial buildings of the 2015 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2013.  All buildings with permit application date of September 4, 2019 or after must comply. There were no weakening amendments to the commercial energy code.

Commercial buildings had previously been required to comply with the 2012 IECC, with reference to ASHRAE 90.1-2010. 

Last reviewed: July 2019

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: NA
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies:  A field study for code compliance for detached single-family homes was conducted and concluded in 2018. Results are still considered preliminary as of June 2019 while PNNL works to complete the final statewide report. Compliance rates varied depending on the measure.  Compliance with requirements for fenestration (98.6% compliance) and crawl wall R-values (100%) were high; a majority of homes (78%) tested below 5 air-changes per hour (ACH50) for envelope leakage and a majority met the high efficacy lighting requirements (80.9%), while compliance with duct leakage requirements were relatively low (over 63% of duct systems tested did not meet the code requirement of 6 CFM per 100 square feet of conditioned floor area for systems not 100% in conditioned space). Compliance was determined through both prescriptive (e.g. observation of U-factors and SHGC for fenestration and R-values insulation) as well as performance testing (duct and envelope leakage testing).
  • Utility Involvement: NA
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: Virginia does not have a formal stakeholder group on code compliance. However, the state does regularly convene stakeholders including the Virginia Building Code Officials Association Energy Committee, Viridiant (formerly EarthCraft Virginia), Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, Sierra Club, Home Builders Association of Virginia, Apartment Owners and Builders Association and others.
  • Training/Outreach: The existing state certification is required for all local governmental code enforcement personnel and independent third-party inspection agents, who must obtain certification to ensure consistent and technically accurate code interpretation and application. The program consists of two separate components, training and examination, with training delivered by the Jack A. Proctor Virginia Building Code Academy (JPVBA) and examinations administered by various nationally-recognized code testing organizations (ICC, NCPCCI).
  • New efforts this year include coordination between DHCD, Viridiant, and Virginia Building and Code Officials Association (VBCOA) on series of trainings to be offered statewide to educate code officials and design professionals on how to meet the new residential energy codes, and code officials and HVAC trade professionals on duct leakage testing requirements and protocols.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Score: -0.5 out of 3
CHP Summary List All

The state has limited policies in place to encourage CHP development, but the 2018 State Energy Plan recommends increased state-sponsorship of investment in CHP projects and calls out CHP’s resilient attributes that are important for critical facilities during severe weather events. No new CHP system came online in Virginia in 2018.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: Virginia Interconnection Standard

Description: In 2009 the Virginia State Corporation Commission adopted interconnection rules for those systems that are not net metered. The rules feature three tiers of interconnection, ranging from those under 500kW to those of 20MW. Fees differ depending on system size and a dispute resolution process is stipulated. No fuels or technologies are specified, and none are explicitly precluded.

A separate interconnection standard is applicable to systems that are also net metered. Systems powered by renewable fuels may be net metered.

Last Updated: July 2017

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

There are currently no state policies designed to acquire energy savings from CHP (like other efficiency resources) or energy generation from CHP (in terms of kWh production) that apply to all forms of CHP.

However, the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 directs Dominion Energy to consider deployment of 200 MW of CHP and/or waste-heat to power (WHP) by 2024 in its next Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). Additionally, the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan (VEP) recommends establishing a goal of 750 MW of cumulative CHP/WHP capacity by 2030. The VEP directs DMME to create a "roadmap" that prioritizes investments in CHP/WHP projects via utility-sponsored programs, public buildings and the private market.

Last Updated: July 2019

Deployment IncentivesList All

There are currently no state policies that provide additional incentives for CHP deployment.

Last Updated: July 2017

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

In 2018, Virginia adopted an update to its State Energy Plan. The updated plan provides recommendations for the future of the Commonwealth’s energy systems that aim to “support technological advances, create new business opportunities, and allow Virginia’s energy markets to grow” (DMME 2018). The plan recommends increased state-sponsorship of investment in CHP projects, and calls out CHP’s resilient attributes that are important for critical facilities during severe weather events. Specifically, the plan calls on the Commonwealth to establish a cumulative target of at least 750 MWs of CHP by 2030. This would build on Virginia’s Senate Bill 966, which requires Dominion Energy to consider including 200 MW of CHP or WHP in its next integrated resource plan. The authors also recommend developing strategies for achieving the target. These include utility investments, private market mobilization, and the deployment of CHP in public buildings.

Last Updated: August 2019

Score: 0.5 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Virginia has made legislative progress in energy efficiency, but the implementation process has been difficult, and as a result, the state still falls well below the national average on energy efficiency program spending and energy savings. In 2007, Virginia set a legislative goal (S 1416) of reducing electricity consumption by 10% (from 2006 levels) by 2022. In 2008, the legislature mandated that utilities submit integrated resource plans that lay out demand-side resources. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved five energy efficiency programs for Dominion Power in 2010 and additional programs in 2012.

Repeated attempts to introduce energy efficiency goals and resource standards have not been successful. The governor vetoed an energy efficiency resource standard in 2009 (SB 1248). In 2008, legislators rejected an earlier goal of 19% savings by 2025 (SB 1296). SB 111, which would have introduced innovative rate structures, did not pass. Revenue recovery has also been questioned on the basis of consumer affordability (SB 150).

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Virginia also adopted the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 (HB 1558/SB 966), which requires regulated utilities to spend $1.3 billion on energy efficiency over the next ten years, more than tripling efficiency budgets. The law does not set specific or binding annual targets.

HB 2506 authorized investor-owned electric utilities to recover the costs of designing, implementing, and operating energy efficiency programs by adjusting their rates, if such programs are found to be in the public interest. The Virginia State Corporation Commission may allow utilities to recover reductions in revenue related to energy efficiency programs, to the extent the revenue is not recovered through off-system sales.

Dominion Power now offers a small set of programs for its residential and commercial customers, and several gas utilities offer rebates. The Tennessee Valley Authority also runs efficiency programs in Virginia.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: July 2018

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

Since 2008, Virginia code has required electric utilities to file integrated resource plans (IRPs). The IRPs will forecast electric utilities' expected loads (projected over a 15-year period) and the utilities' plans to meet these obligations by using supply-side and demand-side resources. Utilities began filing IRPs in 2009.

For more information on energy efficiency as a resource, click here.

Last Updated: July 2018

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

In March 2007, the Virginia legislature passed a bill amending Virginia’s earlier electric industry restructuring law. The governor approved the bill conditionally, requiring the addition of a section on energy conservation, including a goal of 10% electricity savings by 2022 (calculated relative to 2006 sales). The legislature accepted this condition. Under this provision, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) was directed to conduct a proceeding to consider whether the 10% goal could be met cost-effectively, determine the mix of programs that should be implemented and their cost, and develop a plan for development and implementation of these programs, including who should deploy and administer these programs. The SCC completed a report verifying the energy efficiency goal of 10% by 2022 was achievable. In 2015, Governor McAuliffe announced a revised goal of 10% electricity savings by 2020. However, no regulatory requirements have been put in place for energy efficiency programs, so energy savings goals are considered voluntary.

Last Updated: July 2018

Utility Business Model List All

Virginia allows natural gas utilities, but not electric utilities, to decouple their profits from their sales. In December 2008, Virginia Gas received approval to implement a three-year conservation and ratemaking efficiency plan. The plan has two main components: an Energy Conservation Plan (ECP) to promote conservation and efficiency and a Revenue Normalization Adjustment, Rider D ("RNA Rider" or "Rider"), which is a natural gas decoupling mechanism that provides for a sales adjustment to customers’ monthly bills. The ECP and RNA Rider became effective on January 1, 2009 (Docket No. PUE-2008-00060; December 23, 2008).

Virginia Code Section 56-585.1 provides for the recovery of revenue reductions related to energy efficiency programs. Dominion Virginia Power applied for recovery of lost revenues in a regular rate case as part of its application to continue its DSM riders. The Commission denied Dominion’s lost revenue recovery request because it determined that the company did not meet its “burden to establish that its proposed revenue reductions ‘occur[red] due to measured and verified decreased consumption of electricity caused by energy efficiency programs approved by the Commission…’” (emphasis in order). The Commission held that Dominion failed to provide “sufficient evidence for the Commission to measure and to verify that a specific amount of decreased consumption of electricity was directly caused by the CFL program.”

Revenue recovery is limited by any offsetting sales and subject to industry standard measurement and verification (Case No. PUE-2010-00084).

The 2007 legislation amending the state's earlier restructuring law called for the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to open a proceeding to initiate the development and implementation of efficiency programs with incentives and alternative means of compliance to achieve such goals. The legislation also states that an electric utility may recover projected and actual costs of energy efficiency programs, including a margin recoverable on operating expenses, which is equal to the general rate of return on common equity. The SCC can only approve such recovery if it finds that the program is in the public interest (See Virginia Code Section 56-585.1). 

Virginia does not have incentives in place for natural gas.

Last Updated: July 2018

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: total resource cost test, utility cost test, participant cost test, and ratepayer impact measure test 

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Virginia relies on legislative mandates (VA Code Section 56-585.1 a5). Evaluations are mainly administered by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Virginia has formal requirements for evaluation articulated in 20 20 VAC 5-304-10. Evaluations for each of the utilities are conducted.

Virginia uses four of the five classic benefit-cost tests identified in the California Standard Practice Manual. These are the Total Resource Cost (TRC), Utility/Programs Administrator (UCT), Participant (PCT), and Ratepayer Impact Measure (RIM). According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), Virginia considers all four of these tests to be its primary cost-effectiveness tests. An energy efficiency program is considered to be “in the public interest” if the program provides measurable and verifiable energy savings to low-income and elderly customers.

Virginia adopted new rules in 2018 that a program or portfolio of programs shall be approved if the net present value of the benefits exceeds the net present value of the costs as determined by not less than any three of the four aforementioned tests. The benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio, total program, customer project, and individual measure level programs screening. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in 20 VAC 5-304-10.

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for Virginia is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP).

Last Updated: August 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

The Virginia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1349 in 2015, requiring utility pilot programs for energy assistance and weatherization for low-income, elderly, and disabled households. Governor Terry McAuliffe further strengthened this legislation through the issuance of Executive Directive 3 with additional implementing instructions. The 2018 Grid Modernization and Security Act (SB966) went further to require that at least 5% of energy efficiency programs benefit low-income, elderly, and disabled individuals.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in 20 VAC 5-304-10, but they do not address low-income programs.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

Level of coordination is unclear from publicly available data.

Last updated: October 2018

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

Certain large customers are exempt from paying for the costs of new energy efficiency programs. Dominion Power customers may qualify for their opt-out program by having average demands between 500kW and 10MW. Customers over 10 MW do not participate in the state's energy efficiency programming by law. Once customers opt-out, they cannot take advantage of existing programming nor be charged for it. Customers must show that they have already made energy efficiency investments or plan to in the future. Customers must submit measurement and verification reports yearly in support of their opting out of programs funded by a cost-recovery mechanism (CRM). 

Last Updated: July 2018

Data AccessList All

Virginia has no policy in place that requires utilities to release energy use data to customers or third parties. 

Last Updated: July 2018

Score: 5 out of 10
Transportation Summary List All

The state devotes significant funding to transportation initiatives, integrates transportation and land use planning, and has passed complete streets legislation.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land Use Integration: Virginia’s Planning, Subdivision of Land and Zoning Code (Title 15.2, Chapter 22) requires every locality in Virginia to undertake a comprehensive plan that coordinates land-use planning and future actions in order to effectively implement zoning requirements. Local governments are in charge of controlling growth while the state ties use of discretionary funds to the implementation of sustainable growth practices.

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

Complete Streets: The state has had a complete streets policy in place since 2004. 

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: Virginia has a state freight plan that identifies a multimodal freight network, but it does not include freight energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transit Funding List All

House Bill 1539, adopted in 2018, allocates $154 million for Metro funding as was needed and $15 million for VRE but the revenue primarily comes from existing sources of funding – much of it from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority that funds regional transportation.

House Bill 2313, adopted in 2018 - the legislature passed a floor for the regional gas taxes in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. The floor will generate an additional $27.2M for NVTC and $18 million for HRTC including $18.2 million for Metro and $8.6 million for VRE. It will also generate $21.9 million for Hampton Roads. While the Hampton Roads revenue cannot be used directly for transit, it can be applied to other transit projects like facilities and BRT lanes that can benefit transit.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Equitable Access to TransportationList All
Virginia does not have any state programs in place to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, but it does consider the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners. Last Reviewed: July 2019
Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Virginia has not set appliance standards beyond those required by the federal government. 

Last Reviewed: June 2019