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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 2016-17 Sustainability Year in Review for more information on energy and water use in buildings and overall campus performance. 

Completed Projects

  • As an extension of the Stanford Energy System Innovations program, Stanford recently completed installation of 4.5 MW of solar photovoltaic panels on rooftops across campus. Buildings were chosen based on a variety of factors, including aesthetic concerns, orientation, roof size and slope, and construction issues, and have joined a total of 32 structures with solar photovoltaic panels on their rooftops. Construction wrapped up in spring of 2017, to supply the campus with additional clean energy that feeds directly into facilities, offsetting energy purchased through the grid.
  • 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.

In-Progress Projects

  • 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. Because this building is still in design, it will be the first “test case” for the 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 shared space will facilitate easier and more frequent collaborations and provide unique facilities for these two intellectual communities to foster great ideas and innovative scholars that transcend individual schools and departments.
  • 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 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. Construction will take place over approximately three years; occupancy is expected as early as Fall 2020.
  • The Redwood City campus for Stanford is quickly becoming a reality. After over five years of project design, environmental review, and community outreach, the City Council of Redwood City adopted the conceptual master plan for the new campus in September 2013. The satellite campus will accommodate nonacademic user groups not required to be on the main 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 open in 2019.
  • 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. Each year the program will identify a group of 100 high-achieving graduate students from around the world with demonstrated leadership and civic commitment to receive full funding to pursue a wide-ranging graduate education at Stanford, with the goal of developing a new generation of global leaders. 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.