Reducing energy use is central to creating a sustainable campus. It’s also a formidable task, given the growing energy needs of research universities. Stanford has a strong foundation for success, however, as we’re building on a decades-long commitment to energy conservation and efficiency, as well as the advantages of a temperate climate and strong state energy codes.
Current energy-saving strategies will continually decrease consumption by existing buildings, but campus growth is likely to outpace those savings, requiring new efforts. Our recent experience illustrates why: total energy use increased 13 percent from 2000 to 2007, due to new construction, more energy-intensive research and more people and electricity-using equipment in existing buildings. Energy intensity (energy use per square foot) increased as well.
Reducing our use of fossil fuel–based energy in particular—through conservation and possibly alternative supplies—is a priority. Stanford gets most of its energy from the on-site Cardinal Cogen power plant, which produces electricity and steam from natural gas—a highly efficient process that uses the excess heat from electricity generation to warm campus buildings. But while natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel, it is a nonrenewable resource and its use contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
These are serious challenges. But by building on our substantial successes and drawing on Stanford’s culture of innovation and leadership, we believe we can meet them.
Goals & Results
Driving down the university’s greenhouse gas emissions is a priority, and meeting reduction goals will require a significant drop in energy use campus-wide. To make that happen, we’re employing a full range of strategies, from stringent energy-performance standards for new buildings (see Buildings) and retrofits of existing buildings to programs encouraging everyone who lives, studies and works on campus to save energy.
Our energy efficiency programs have yielded significant results. For instance:
- An energy-saving overhaul of the Stauffer Chemistry Building, completed in June 2007, led to a 35 percent drop in electricity use, 43 percent cut in steam use and 62 percent fall in chilled water use. The project reduced the building’s carbon dioxide emissions by 762 metric tons per year and cut its energy costs by 46 percent in the first 12 months. Similar results have been achieved at the neighboring Stauffer Phyiscal Chemistry Building.
- Preliminary results of a HVAC controls upgrade at the Gates Computer Science Building show a 62% reduction in steam use as well as 16% drop in chilled water consumption.
- The Energy Retrofit Program has delivered an estimated cumulative savings of over 240 million kilowatt-hours of electricity since it began in 1993—roughly equivalent to 15 months of the university’s current use—and prevented 72,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.
More efficient water heating in residences saves 100,000 therms of natural gas annually. See Energy Initiatives for program details and more results.