Energy Initiatives

Stanford supports a comprehensive effort to reduce energy use in Stanford's academic and administrative buildings through conservation, improved efficiency, and on-site renewable power generation. Stanford’s suite of energy-saving programs target large-scale building retrofits; small-scale retrofits; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) controls; and user programs.  


Since 2001, the annual Winter Closure Program has targeted the two-week campus shutdown over the winter holidays as an opportunity to conserve energy by turning off heating and ventilation systems in most buildings across campus. The two-week shutdown became mandatory in 2003 through a program administered jointly by the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management and Zone Management. To encourage participation from building occupants and students, Stanford hosts a Turn Off for Break campaign that focuses on individual contributions to energy conservation in offices, labs, and dorms. Winter Closure has resulted in a cumulative net energy cost savings of $4 million since its inception.

Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program (WBERP)

The Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program (WBERP) seeks to reduce energy consumption in Stanford’s most energy-intensive buildings. This $30 million capital program, which began in 2004 to address the 12 campus buildings consuming the most energy, now includes the top 27 buildings, representing 60% of total campus energy use.  Completed retrofits have delivered annual energy cost savings of $4.7 million (a payback of less than four years), and local utility rebates of $2.2 million. On average, buildings that have participated in the WBERP program see 24% reductions in energy usage, with some buildings realizing savings of up to 50%.

Systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus are expected to save $4.7 million a year and cut energy use by 24%.

WBERP Case Studies 

Beckman Center | Bing Wing | Cantor Arts Center | Gilbert Biological

Energy Retrofit Program (ERP)

Since 1993, the ERP program has provided more than $15 million for projects to improve energy efficiency  and reduce utility demand and associated building and maintenance costs. Rebates cover some or all of the upgrade costs, depending on the project payback period. Over 500 ERP projects have been completed for cumulative annual savings of 39 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 360,000 ton-hrs of chilled water, and 11 million MBtu of hot water/steam, or cumulatively over $4 million. Any campus department that is a customer of Stanford Utilities can apply for ERP rebates for projects that save electricity or thermal energy. For more information, review the ERP Guidelines or contact Leslie Kramer.

ERP Case Studies

Clark Center | Hagey Research Facility | Wilbur Dining Hall

ERP Express: Office Equipment

Reduced electrical consumption within individual workstations and shared office areas is a major goal of the Cardinal Green Office Program. To support facility managers and building champions seeking an extra incentive to make strategic purchases and operational decisions, ERP Express for Office Equipment offers small rebates for the purchase and installation of appliance timers and Smart Strips. Download the ERP express application form for eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, as well as other important information about the rebate program.

ERP Application - PDF

ERP Express: Laboratory Equipment

Researchers on campus can qualify for rebates through ERP Express for Laboratory Equipment. Sustainability and Energy Management (SEM) offers rebates to labs that utilize room temperature storage and/or replace old ultra-low temperature freezers with more efficient models. Rebates can also be provided for other types of lab equipment, such as incubators and lasers, if proven energy-efficient models are purchased. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Offered as part of the Cardinal Green Labs program, there are a number of targeted opportunities for labs available for labs to operate more sustainably. 

Learn More about Cardinal Green Labs

Energy Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP)

Introduced in spring 2004, this program aims to give schools and administrative units a financial incentive to use less electricity. The program sets a budget based on past consumption and lets participants “cash in” unused kilowatt-hours; those that exceed their electricity budgets pay the difference out of their own funds.

By the end of the program’s third full year, participants collectively used 3% less electricity than budgeted – netting total savings of $830,000. The program aims to reduce electricity use by 5% from a 2003 baseline. A number of schools and administrative units have achieved this goal, but others have had their baselines adjusted upward to accommodate additional electricity use from new buildings and expansion of research-driven activity.


Stanford is systematically reviewing the HVAC systems of 90 of its largest buildings, then adjusting or repairing the systems to ensure they work as designed. Technicians who conduct the reviews also recommend ways to further improve energy performance through ERP projects. All 90 buildings have been through an initial round of retro-commissioning and each building is revisited every four years.

sustainable IT Program

The Sustainable IT program is a joint effort between the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management and Information Technology Services to efficiently manage the extensive network of personal and campus computing equipment on campus. The program includes targeted efforts aimed at both personal equipment and the facilities that house more complex systems. 

Learn more about Sustainable IT