The City of Providence completed energy efficiency retrofits for municipal buildings, installed enough solar PV to power half the city, and has outfitted streetlights with LEDs throughout the city, all without a dedicated municipal budget for the work.

Rhode Island’s largest city is profiting because of clean energy investments, putting the city on course to reduce energy consumption by 30% by 2030. By leveraging private capital and utility energy efficiency programs, the city is on target to meet its ambitious goals and is showing you don’t need deep pockets to make the green transition.

>10,000 metric tons of CO2 have been saved via the clean energy investments

Cities100 – 2017

The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank has financed energy retrofits for five of the city’s municipal buildings and expects to see savings after year one. This is the first step for the city, which next aims to target energy consumption in private buildings. The city is also replacing 17,000 energy-sapping high-pressure sodium streetlights with LEDs to cut carbon emissions and save an estimated $3 million annually. Finally, a long-term contract was signed to build a 20-MW solar plant that will supply half of the city’s power needs, with no upfront cost for the city.

The challenge

Providence’s building stock accounts for more than two-thirds of their carbon emissions. Leading by example and installing energy efficiency upgrades in municipal buildings will pave the way for broader policy change and help achieve the goal of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2050.


Economic The projects, when fully implemented, will save the city more than $4 million per year. Furthermore, completion of the projects supports the growing energy efficiency and renewable energy job sectors.

Environmental Taken together, the projects conserve energy and reduce Providence’s dependency on fossil fuels, which improves air and water quality and reduces carbon emissions. Between 2010 and 2016, methane emissions were reduced by 1.2 metric tons and nitrous oxide emissions reduced by 0.17 metric tons.

Social More than 1,100 people in the Providence area are employed in solar energy jobs, and across the whole state of Rhode Island, clean energy jobs employ nearly 14,000 people.

About Providence

Providence is the capital city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. It’s home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, whose RISD Museum displays American art and silver. Nearby, 18th- and 19th-century homes line the streets of College Hill.

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