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To evolve as a center of learning, pursue world-changing research and respond to pressing environmental concerns, Stanford designs and creates buildings that use resources wisely and provide healthy, productive environments. Ensuring that new buildings are as efficient as possible is essential to reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions. Energy generation for heating, cooling and electricity in buildings accounts for 93% of greenhouse gas emissions.

In taking on this challenge, project managers draw inspiration from Stanford’s original master plan designer – Frederick Law Olmsted, the visionary founder of American landscape architecture – and are guided by Stanford’s Guidelines for Sustainable Buildings. Olmsted envisioned a resource-conserving campus that would respond to its climate and context to achieve beauty and functionality. The guidelines, which new building projects are expected to follow, update that vision for today’s context.

Stanford’s new buildings are now being designed to meet a whole-building, energy performance target. The target is unique to each new building, but based on performance of existing campus buildings of the same space type. Each new building is targeted to perform better than the peer buildings that were built before it.

It’s also critical that existing buildings use resources sustainably, and the university makes significant investments in efficiency upgrades that reduce energy and water use in existing buildings.


View the 2017-18 Sustainability Year in Review for more information on energy and water use in buildings and overall campus performance. 

Completed Projects

  • The 123,000-gross-square-foot Bass Biology Building will be constructed as part of Stanford’s Science, Engineering, and Medical Campus Initiative. The building will be located between Gates Computer Science and Mudd Chemistry and will provide shared spaces for collaboration; innovative instrumentation; and laboratories for students, faculty, and research staff. Incorporating lessons learned from earlier buildings, Bass Biology will use heat recovery, zone-level heating and cooling, and reduced airflow in labs during non-occupied hours. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2018.  
  • The 55,000-gross-square-foot David and Joan Traitel Building, an office and conference center for the Hoover Institute completed construction in summer 2017 at the site of the old Cummings Art Building. This project represents the first expansion in over 35 years for the university-affiliated think tank. The building is the first office space to use the new benchmark energy targets. The design team has incorporated heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, and plug load innovations to meet the challenging targets.  Since completion in summer of 2017, the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management (SEM) has been tracking building energy use and working with operations staff to address any performance shortfalls.
  • The Denning House will become the hub of the new Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program, which has been established to prepare leaders to address global challenges in the 21st century and beyond. The house will have dining and food service facilities to accommodate an evening meal for each cohort of 100 so they can dine together once weekly. Multipurpose lecture space and section discussion rooms will also be provided.  The pioneer cohort of Knight-Hennessy scholars includes citizens of 21 countries pursuing degrees in 31 Stanford graduate departments.
  • While Kingscote Gardens is not a new building on campus—in fact, at 100 years old it is among the oldest—the extensive retrofit project that wrapped up in 2018 involved comprehensive updates to almost all aspects of the building, transitioning it from residential to office space for ten different university programs. The retrofit project included updates to the structure of the building to meet seismic safety standards, as well as high-efficiency equipment upgrades across its energy and water fixtures and systems. The building also now includes a shower, to support and encourage those who bike to work.

In-Progress Projects

  • The Bio-Medical Innovations Building (BMI) will help the School of Medicine to translate medical research discoveries into treatments and cures. The new building will be approximately 215,500 sf with four above-grade floors of research labs and lightfilled gathering places, and a lower basement level with reduced functional square footage for utility support. A connective tunnel to other nearby research facilities is part of the proposed design. The design includes a number of features that should enable the building to exceed its aggressive energy performance targets, including high performance walls and windows, efficient lighting systems, exhaust air heat recovery, low pressure-drop ductwork high efficiency supply fans, and variable air volume fume hoods, which automatically turn down when not in active use.
  • Two institutes—Chemistry, Engineering, and Medicine for Human Health (ChEM-H) and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute (SNI)—will occupy a new 235,000-gross-square-foot facility on the southwest side of campus. The building will have a combination of fume hood labs, engineering labs, and computational space and will incorporate a number of energy- and water-saving strategies.  The building will be the first “test case” for aggressive new energy and water targets, including a number of best practices gained in recently completed lab buildings to make it as efficient as possible.   The facility will incorporate advanced envelope and façade design, unoccupied setback of general and fume hood ventilation rates, and use of exhaust air from non-lab spaces to substitute some of the fresh outside air supplied to labs.
  • The Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR) is the largest expansion of Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) to-date, and when completed will increase graduate student housing capacity on campus by almost 20 percent, meeting a critical university priority as Bay Area housing costs continue to rise. As part of this project, mid-rise buildings (new and existing) in Escondido Village will be connected to Stanford’s central hot water loop for space heating, thereby avoiding the need for gas boilers on site. Occupancy is expected as early as Fall 2020. 
  • The Redwood City campus for Stanford will wrap up the first phase of construction in 2019, when non-academic user groups will begin to occupy the new satellite campus. The concept design responds to guiding principles and objectives that will enrich and carry forward the existing Stanford culture, as well as offer benefits to the surrounding community, and will set an example of Stanford’s commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. High-performance strategies for the structures and landscape, coupled with an aggressive transportation management program, will demonstrate responsible stewardship of the site and respect for the community. The Redwood City campus will include  a “mini” version of Stanford’s electrically-powered Central Energy Facility, which uses an innovative heat recovery system to meet campus heating and cooling needs.  As a result, no natural gas will be used in any of the individual campus buildings
  • The Center for Academic Medicine (CAM) will provide a consolidated office and administrative environment for several Stanford Medicine departments currently located throughout the Stanford Medicine campus. The new center will primarily house clinical faculty, computational researchers and departmental administration and leadership. Although no the building will not house clinical functions, it will be essential to support clinical faculty and educators as they perform their duties in the nearby Hospitals and Clinics. The CAM project has two major components:
    • A four story, 170,000 gross square foot office and administrative building inclusive of several amenities for the building occupants such as a small conference center, a café and a fitness center.
    • A three story underground parking structure with approximately 830 spaces to replace existing surface parking and provide adequate parking for the new building occupants.
  • Construction of four 4,000 academic square-foot District Work Centers (DWCs) that Stanford maintenance, operations, and landscaping staff will use to make daily operations more efficient. Presently, these staff members are dispatched from the Bonair section of campus, and as a result often have to drive a significant distance to and from worksites to respond to calls. The DWCs will distribute these workers throughout campus so they can bike or walk to their worksites in response to calls, and will provide them with localized tool storage, workshops, locker room facilities, and drop-in workspaces. The project is part of a holistic effort to increase efficiency across all aspects of campus operations.