Energy Initiatives

The university supports a comprehensive effort to reduce fossil fuel-based 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 targets large-scale building retrofits; small-scale retrofits; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) controls; and user programs. 

Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program (WBERP)

The university has allocated $30 million for major capital improvements to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus. The first overhaul, of the Stauffer Chemistry Building, was finished in June 2007 and resulted in a 35 percent drop in electricity use, a 43 percent cut in steam use and 62 percent fall in chilled water use. It also cut energy costs by 46 percent in the first 12 months.

As of August 2015, the university had completed 15 WBERP projects, which are saving annually 9.5 million kWh, 5 million ton-hrs of chilled water, and 71 million pounds of steam, representing over 14,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and more than $4.5 million per year. An additional 12 projects are in the pipeline, which are projected to save another $2.3 million per year.

Systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus are expected to save $4.2 million a year and cut energy use by 28 percent.

WBERP Case Studies 

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

Energy Retrofit Program (ERP)

While the WBERP program focuses on the large central HVAC systems on campus, the ERP program promotes efficiency through building-level technology upgrades, such as premium efficiency T8 lamps and electronic ballasts, LED lighting, variable-speed drives for motors, high efficiency air compressors, and spectrally selective window film. Since the program began in 1993, over 500 ERP projects have been completed for cumulative annual energy savings of more than 37 million kWh per year. 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 percent 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 expansions 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 retrocommissioning 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 momre complex systems. 

Learn more about Sustainable IT