thermal storage tank in the sun


Stanford adopted a long-term approach in developing climate action strategies because decisions regarding building design, energy infrastructure, and energy supply have lasting impact and should be based on a planning horizon equivalent to the lifecycle of these investments. The benefits of Stanford's new energy supply system are substantial.

  • The new energy system is significantly more efficient than the previous combined heat and power plant due to heat recovery and lower line losses from hot water distribution compared to steam.
  • Powering the Central Energy Facility (CEF) with grid-based electricity provides higher reliability, lower costs, and greater flexibility for greener power procurement than the previous natural-gas fired power plant. Stanford procures its electricity through Direct Access (wholesale purchases as opposed to purchasing from a retail utility), which enables the university to decide how much of its electricity will come from renewable sources, to which the university remains committed. 
  • The energy efficiency gains of the CEF and hot water distribution, along with the ability to power the plant with renewable electricity, reduces Stanford's scope I and II greenhouse gas emissions by 68% from peak levels.     
  • The CEF's heat recovery system reduces Stanford's potable water consumption by 18%, as the majority of the waste heat from the chilled water loop is reused instead of being discharged out the evaporative cooling towers.
  • The CEF and hot water distribution system was the lowest life-cycle-cost option and will pay Stanford back more than $420 million dollars over the next 35 years.