Energy Resilience Initiatives

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

Deep energy efficiency is the first part of a resilience strategy as it will provide significant long-term value and increased reliability.

We are proud of our growing number of initiatives that enhance energy resilience, save money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions!  Some initiatives listed below were part of an Energy Performance Contract and others were performed independent of that project.  


Stadium lights at the Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Ballpark were upgraded to LED

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Savings of 33.67 tons of CO2 and 69,869.45 kWh per year! One-time rebate of $54,953.50!

Lights at Stoney Field were upgraded to LED

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Annual savings of 10.45 tons of CO2 and 21,671 kWh!  One-time rebate of $8,523!

Lights at Volvo Car Stadium were upgraded to LED

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Annual savings of 12.97 tons of CO2 and 26,914 kWh!  One-time rebate of $10,584!

Replaced aging HVAC Chiller equipment at Dock Street Theater with energy-efficient technology

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Savings of 29.31 tons of CO2 and 60,817 kWH per year!  One-time rebate of $13,747!

Parking garages at Gaillard, Aquarium, VRTC, Marion Square, Charleston Place, Concord, and Queen were upgraded with LED lights and sensors

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Savings of 292.93 tons of CO2 and 607,796 kWh per year!  One-time rebate of $44,350!

Traffic signals were converted to LED lights 

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

Traffic signals have been synchronized to allow more free flowing traffic and less idling

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Annual savings of 569,659 hours of time, 341,795 gallons of gas and 203.5 tons of CO2!

The City is using LED lights for its premier tree.

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An average annual savings of $1,000!

The City is finishing up an Energy Management Performance Contract with Johnson Controls International to evaluate and upgrade facilities

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Savings of over 175,000 tons of CO2, over $18M in cost avoidance, and 47% reduction in energy consumption citywide when complete!

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.”

Energy efficiency is a critical, yet often overlooked, component of a resilient energy system. 

New LED lights at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Ballpark

new LED lights at Joe Riley Stadium Spring 2020 (9)
new LED lights at Joe Riley Stadium Spring 2020 (5)
new LED lights at Joe Riley Stadium Spring 2020 (4)

Energy Performance Contract Results

Angel Oak with energy reduction from JCI

Saving Energy in Transportation

  • We have a growing fleet of hybrid and flex fuel vehicles and are working on transitioning our fleet to become more efficient and EV Charging Stations Gaillard 2019 (1)incorporate electric vehicles and their associated charging infrastructure.
  • To encourage electric vehicle adoption citywide, there are 8 electric vehicle charging stations (offering free charging!) available for public use in City garages.  This infrastructure is currently on the list to be upgraded and expanded to other locations too!  In addition, the City incentivizes new private development to install electric vehicle charging stations for public use.
  • The Livability and Tourism Department is enforcing the City’s no idling policy which limits idling to 5 minutes.
  • The City encourages the use of alternative transportation such as bikes, buses and walkability through a variety of programs and projects, such as the Holy Spokes Bike Share, free DASH and HOP shuttles, and walkable City sponsored events such as Second Sundays on King Street and Farmers Markets.  Coming soon, implementation of the People Pedal Bike Plan and a new bike and pedestrian bridge over the Ashley River that will safely connect West Ashley to downtown!

Saving Energy by Department: Staff 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.Green Team City of Charleston logo final

  • Expands recycling options so City employees 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

Saving Energy in New Development

  • City facilities are built with high performance in mind and to LEED or similar standards
  • Street tree program and tree protection programs- trees can often shade structures reducing cooling costs in summer.
  • Planning for more compact, efficient developments reduces stress on expanding the grid


Saving Energy from Waste

  • Keep Charleston Beautiful provides education to City neighborhood and community groups and reducing, reusing and recycling.
    • 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 in honor of Earth Day 2008 and reaffirmed this by passing a similar Earth Day resolution in 2020 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. OR-2068_v1
    • 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.

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.