State and Local Building Efficiency Regulations & Policies: Atlanta

In this series, we’re exploring state and local building efficiency regulations to give you a bird’s-eye view of the policies that may impact your portfolio.

“Hotlanta”– a term not only favored by enthusiastic tourists but also to describe the increasingly oppressive summer months in the Peach State’s capital city. According to the Climate Reality Project, the average temperature in Atlanta rose nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.11 degrees Celsius) between 1980 and 2015, causing the already warm and humid city to occasionally experience extreme drought. 1

Perhaps, as a result, Atlanta was the first city in the south to pledge to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2035. Currently, it is targeting an overall emissions reduction of 40 percent below 2009 levels by 2030.2  Since 45% of total GHG emissions come from the energy consumed by commercial buildings and industrial processes, Atlanta naturally focuses on building efficiency as a key part of its climate mitigation strategy.3 Through its Climate Action Plan, the city requires routine energy benchmarking and audits to encourage building owners to track and reduce energy consumption from their buildings. Both the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia also apply mandatory building efficiency requirements to municipally-owned buildings.  

Additionally, Atlanta offers a variety of voluntary programs and incentives, including tax credits, rebates, and PACE financing.  The Atlanta Better Building Challenge garners broad participation; the city currently leads the nation in the amount of square footage committed to the program, with over 111 million square feet across 590 buildings participating.4 For more information on voluntary incentive programs across the state, please see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.  

Learn more about how Aquicore makes it easy to collect the energy data needed to comply with local, city, and state benchmarking regulations.

We’ve compiled the key building energy requirements, policies, and plans for Atlanta. Keep reading for the full list of key mandatory energy requirements. 

State / City / CountyNameType of Regulation / Policy / InitiativeDescriptionEffective Date
Atlanta, GAAtlanta Commercial Buildings Energy and Efficiency OrdinanceEnergy BenchmarkingAll commercial and multifamily buildings more than 25,000 square feet and all municipal buildings must track and report their annual energy use using the ENERGY STAR and submit data to the city.2015
Atlanta, GAAtlanta Commercial Buildings Energy and Efficiency Ordinance 

Ordinance 15-O-1101
Energy AuditAll commercial and multifamily buildings more than 25,000 square feet and all municipal buildings are required to conduct and submit an ASHRAE Level II Energy Audit every 10 years.  Retro-commissioning requirements are optional.2015
GeorgiaExecutive Order 04.24.08.02Energy Efficiency (Existing Buildings, State buildings)As part of “Conserve Georgia”, state agencies and departments must reduce energy consumption 15% by 2020, using 2007 energy use as a baseline. Reductions in energy use must come from energy efficiency measures and can also come from renewable energy development. We were unable to find an updated equivalent EO past 2020.2007
GeorgiaSenate Bill 130Energy Efficiency (New Construction, State buildings)All new state buildings are required to undergo commissioning and exceed ASHRAE 90.1.2004 energy efficiency standards by 30%. State buildings over 10,000 square feet must also be commissioned to achieve a 15% percent reduction in water use when compared to water use based on plumbing fixture selection in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 1992.Provisions adopted in 2002, Amended in 2016

Atlanta, GA
2015 IECC Building Code + Amendments Energy Efficiency (New Construction)The 2020 Georgia State Minimum Standard Energy Code, based on the 2015 IECC with state-specific amendments, went into effect January 1, 2020, and focused on thermal envelope and mechanical systems. For a content field guide for commercial buildings click here.  New Amendments took effect on January 1, 2020
Atlanta, GAOrdinance 03-0-0693Energy Efficiency (New Construction)All major renovations to and new construction of municipal buildings over 5,000 square feet are required to obtain LEED New Construction Silver Certification or greater. All existing City-financed facilities over 25,000 square feet must gain LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance certification over a period of 10 years. 2003
Atlanta, GAExecutive Order 17-0-1654TransportationAll new residential homes and public parking facilities must accommodate electric vehicles (EV).  Twenty percent of the spaces in all new commercial and multifamily parking structures must be EV-ready.  Additionally, all new development of residential homes must be equipped with the infrastructure needed to install EV charging stations, such as conduit, wiring, and electrical capacity. 2017
Georgia2010 Georgia Water Stewardship ActWater EfficiencyDue to water resource management challenges in Georgia, the state also requires local governments, state agencies, and public water systems to take specific actions to ultimately reduce water waste.  Examples include routine water audits, high-efficiency flow fixtures, high-efficiency cooling towers for new construction.  Notably, submeters must be installed in new multi-unit buildings, including residential, commercial, and light industrial facilities.2010
1. For more info on water management and the City of Atlanta’s submetering requirements see The Water Stewardship Act
2. https://atlantaclimateactionplan.wordpress.com/ghg-emissions-and-reduction-targets/
3. https://atlantaclimateactionplan.wordpress.com/focus-areas/commercial-buildings/
4.  https://www.atlantabbc.com/about/

Key Sources: