Energy Resilience Initiatives

The City of Charleston has prioritized energy efficiency to ensure that our buildings and facilities are performing as efficiently as possible and not wasting energy.  

We are proud of our growing number of initiatives that promote energy resilience and energy efficiency!  

Since the work of sustainability is never done,  we will continue to add new initiatives to the list and tackle them as resources and capacity allows!

Per section 101(e)(6) of title 10, U.S.C., the “term

energy resilience’ means the ability to avoid, prepare for, minimize, adapt to, and recover from anticipated and unanticipated energy disruptions

in order to ensure energy availability and reliability sufficient to provide for mission assurance and readiness, including task critical assets and other mission essential operations related to readiness, and to execute or rapidly reestablish mission essential requirements.”

Using Energy More Efficiently

  • The City is using LED lights for its premier tree.  

The electricity savings in dollars are about $1,000 per season.

  • Traffic signals are lighted via LED lights and synchronized timing.  

LED technology uses 83% less energy than traditional lighting and saves about 2,000 tons of CO2 annually!

  • Energy efficiency contract with Johnson Controls International yields the following anticipated results:

    $16.8 M cost savings so far (April 2019)

    $18.1 M estimated cost avoidance over 15 years

    $13.3 M estimated in infrastructure renewal

    46.6% estimate reduction in energy consumption citywide when complete

    136,692.08 tons of CO2e emissions have been reduced by energy savings as of April 2019, and an additional 45,250 tons of CO2e emissions are estimated to reduce when complete

Project Highlights: Energy Efficiency Contract

  • Install high efficiency LED fixtures with sensors in parking garages (better light / lower wattage / longer life / energy efficiency)
  • Install LED bulbs as lighting upgrades in City facilities (better light / lower wattage / longer life)
  • Replace inefficient chillers, air handling units and HVAC units, particularly those reliant on R22 refrigerant as the product is phasing out and has major environmental concerns (end of useful life / operational reliability / improved comfort / energy efficiency)
  • Install programmable thermostats at multiple locations (improved comfort / energy efficiency)
  • Link the City’s diverse and widespread facilities into one system wide control dashboard (energy efficiency / energy management)
  • Install VendingMiser® technology on cold beverage and snack machines throughout the City (energy efficiency)
  • Renovate facilities, clean ducts, replace windows, and address any building envelope concerns (energy efficiency)
  • Implement life safety improvements such as a full electrical analysis at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Baseball Park (safety / efficiency)
  • Install new WeatherTrak irrigation system throughout the City (reduce the City’s current water usage by 30 to 40%/ protect both landscape
  • and hardscape / automated leak detection / reduce non-point source runoff pollution / optimize operations)
  • Implement water conservation measures at City parks (water conservation / utility savings)

Fleet Efficiencies

  • We have a growing fleet of hybrid and flex fuel vehicles and are working on transitioning our fleet and incorporating electric vehicles and their associated charging infrastructure
  • There are electric vehicle charging stations available to the public in City garages.  This infrastructure is currently on the list to be upgraded and expanded to other locations too!

Limiting Idling

  • The Livability and Tourism Department is enforcing the City’s no idling policy which limits idling to 5 minutes.
  • Traffic signals have been synchronized to allow more free flowing traffic and less idling. 

The annual benefit of the retiming traffic signals amounts to 569,659 hours of time saved, 341,795 gallons of gas and 203.5 tons of emissions reduction.

City Green Team

The Staff Green Team is comprised of interested City employees from all City departments and it promotes education and awareness of sustainability and aims to improve energy, waste and water efficiency throughout government operations.

  • Expands recycling options so City employees and City offices can easily recycle hazardous waste and other items that don’t belong in the blue recycling bins, such as batteries, CFL and LED bulbs, corks, and printer toner cartridges.
  • Expands outreach about the new single-use plastic regulations to help ensure all departments are in compliance and to offer assistance

Green Building

  • City facilities are to be built to LEED or similar standards


Light on the Land Offerings

  • Encouraging Bikes, Buses and Better Sidewalks : Holy Spokes Bike Share
  • Free DASH and HOP shuttles
  • Street tree program and tree protection programs
  • Planning for more compact, efficient developments
  • Second Sundays on King Street and Farmers Markets are walkable events

Recycling / Waste

  • Keep Charleston Beautiful provides education to City neighborhood and community groups.  
    • If you are interested in having a representative come talk to your group about ways that everyone can improve our community’s quality of life through litter prevention, recycling and property standards.  Clean City Clara is Keep Charleston Beautiful’s pelican mascot who teaches kindergarten through 2nd graders in Charleston County school-based programs the importance of recycling.
  • City Council passed a resolution on Earth Day of 2008 requiring recycling by all City staff including paper and co-mingled items- aluminum, glass and plastics #1 and #2 and printer cartridges.
  • As part of this same resolution, they require the use of recycled paper for all routine copier use. 
    • Many on City staff are going further by
      • using two sided printing
      • minimizing printing unnecessary documents
      • reusing single side printed paper
      • hauling cardboard to be recycled
  • KCB and the City Parks Department are working together to provide recycling receptacles throughout the City’s park system and provide the hauling.
  • Single-use plastics (bags and disposable food service ware) are no longer allowed starting January 1, 2020 and thousands of reusable bags and straws have been disseminated throughout the community, particularly in lower income areas and to residents with disabilities.