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Energy plays a critical role in building a sustainable campus, posing unique challenges and opportunities given increased demand from growing research universities. Stanford has a strong foundation for success, rooted in a decades-long commitment to energy conservation and efficiency and the advantages of a temperate climate and strong state energy codes. The university has also made significant strides in incorporating renewables into its portfolio through the Stanford Energy System Innovations project.

Driving down greenhouse gas emissions is a key priority in meeting the university’s goals, and requires a significant drop in energy use campus-wide. To do this, Stanford employs a full range of strategies, from stringent energy-performance standards for new buildings and retrofits of existing buildings, to behavior programs encouraging energy conservation.

As of 2017, Stanford has reduced energy intensity on campus 26% from a 2000 baseline, and systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus have saved more than $4 million a year. Learn about ongoing conservation initiatives.


View the 2017-18 Sustainability Year in Review to explore more in-depth energy consumption data. 
  • The Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program (WBERP) completed major energy retrofits at the Mechanical Engineering Research Lab (MERL) and Varian (Russel H) Physics Lab, which together will save over $350,000 per year.  The retrofits included installing the latest in high-efficiency lab control systems, including using occupancy sensors in labs to minimize use of lighting and fans during unoccupied periods. The WBERP, which was launched in 2004 to spur energy retrofits in the highest energy using buildings on campus,  includes projects at Chem-Bio (Lorey Lokey), Green Earth Sciences, McCullough, CCSR and Terman, the last five buildings in the program.   The remaining buildings are expected to produce an additional $1.3 million per year in savings. 
  • Over 50 Energy Retrofit Projects (ERPs) were completed in 2017-18, for estimated savings of over $400,000 per year. Projects ranged in scope from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades and lighting retrofits to high-efficiency freezers and server virtualization.
  • Two new ERP express programs were launched in 2017-18: a Streamlined Server Efficiency Rebate Program and a rebate program for High-Efficiency Biosafety Cabinets.
  • Stanford’s Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation took advantage of the ERP rebate program to complete a retro-commissioning project at the Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center. The project is saving over $126,000 per year, while improving temperature control and occupant comfort.
  • Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises obtained over $10,000 in ERP rebates in 2018 to help fund LED lighting projects.
  • Improvements to the North Wing of Tressider Memorial will save over $40,000 per year as a result of installing a new Direct Digital Control (DDC) system, room-level scheduling features, and CO2 sensors to adjust ventilation rates based on need.  
  • The School of Medicine upgraded 12 air handler units on the roof of the new Center for Clinical Sciences Research in 2018.  These improvements are on track to save over $78,000 per year. The School also continued to make improvements to the controls at the Fairchild Science Building, estimated to reduce energy use by over $30,000 per year.