Local Government Leading: City of Atlanta

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Dec 14, 2018

This installment of the Local Government Leading blog series highlights the City of Atlanta, Georgia.

In addition to being a Better Buildings Challenge partner, Atlanta was recently selected as a winner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge. Atlanta was selected because of its innovative and ambitious Climate Action Plan.  The plan provides a framework and set of actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Atlanta by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030.

As a winner of the Climate Challenge, Atlanta will receive technical assistance valued at up to $2.5 million. The city will work with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ acceleration program to achieve the following by 2020:

  • A sustainable and resilient building stock supported by clean energy upgrades and existing building code enforcement;
  • An expanded infrastructure for electric vehicles via the recently enacted EV Readiness Ordinance;
  • A Complete Streets Ordinance to allow for coordination of traffic signals throughout the city and prioritization of sidewalks and last-mile connectivity throughout Atlanta, especially in under-served neighborhoods.


These actions are aligned with the following four goals for residential buildings, commercial buildings, transportation and waste diversion from the city’s Climate Action Plan published in 2015:

  • Reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030;
  • Reduce energy consumption in residential buildings by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030;
  • Reduce GHG emissions produced by transportation by 20% by 2020 and 40% by 2030;
  • Increase waste diversion rate to landfills up to 80% by 2020.


In 2011, prior to releasing its Climate Action Plan, the City of Atlanta became one of the first cities to join the Better Buildings Challenge and set a goal to reduce energy and water use by 20% by 2020.  In 2016, Atlanta was the first city to meet its water reduction goal and is currently on track to meet its energy reduction goal as well, having improved energy performance by an average of 3% per year from a 2008 baseline.  

In order to drive energy efficiency action across the city, Atlanta launched a public-private partnership program, the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge, to engage local building owners and operators and encourage them to reduce their energy and water consumption in accordance with the city's energy and environmental goals.  Since the program was launched in 2011, it has grown from 28 participating buildings covering 26 million square feet to include more than 650 buildings and 116 million square feet, the largest program of its kind in the country.  The City of Atlanta reports that the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge has added $16 million to the regional economy and created 221 jobs since its launch in 2011.  Due to the success of the program, Atlanta has committed more square feet to the Better Buildings Challenge than any other local government. 

Through innovative programs and ambitious goal-setting, the City of Atlanta continues to establish itself as a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency as it secures a healthier environment and economy for its citizens.

Be sure to check out our previous Local Government Leading installments featuring the City of SeattleDistrict of ColumbiaCity of PhiladelphiaCity of Los AngelesCity of BostonCity of San Diego, City of Pittsburgh, and City of Chicago.