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Areas of Work

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The Office of Sustainability and Business Services within the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management focuses its work across seven guiding categories.

Infrastructural Planning and Support

OOS works with both academic and operations groups across campus to help develop long-term plans to improve campus operations and infrastructure. The group played a critical role in early planning and continued outreach for the Stanford Energy System Innovations project, and continues to support the project with analysis and evaluations of future enhancements. It has led the way in developing a Zero Waste Plan and Feasibility Study to support efforts in reaching the 90% waste diversison target established by President Lavigne through the Long Range Plan.  In support of this plan, OOS has established a strategic partnership with the Procurement Services team to help the campus understand the connection of Responsible Purchasing to zero waste efforts, resulting in new Responsible Purchasing Guidelines. A similar partnership with the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (DAPER) supports comprehensive sustainability advancements throughout its facilities and works closely with a number of individual departments to identify comprehensive and holistic solutions. 

Assessments, Evaluations, and Reporting

The university diligently tracks key performance indicators related to campus resource use and trends. This evaluation work is critical to assessing Stanford’s success in advancing the sustainability of both its physical campus and its programmatic and academic offerings. OOS conducts an annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory as a primary indicator of sustainability performance, and works closely with buildings and facilities staff to determine the best path toward building sustainability and how to engage the campus community in improving performance, exemplified through the Cardinal Green Office and Cardinal Green Labs programs that grew out of in-depth plug load analysis.  OOS applies this data-driven approach to evaluating its progress and created an in-house building sustainability rating system to evaluate each building’s sustainability performance to recognizee high-performing buildings and identify those that need improvement. This same methodology has now informed a detailed inventory that accounts for the remaining natural gas building equipment accounted for in the university's emissions inventory. It has already motivated increased sustainability action in several facilities across campus. Third-party sustainability evaluations also help to highlight annual progress. In 2019, Stanford renewed its top score among US research institutions through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE’s) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System evaluation.

Conservation Campaigns

Individual actions and awareness conserve resources, lower utility bills, and contribute to a campus experience consistent with the university’s overall commitment to sustainability. To increase institutional awareness and achieve results, OOS runs campus-wide Cardinal Green conservation campaigns, and launched the My Cardinal Green program in 2017 to allow individuals to track progress and receive rewards for their efforts. Through My Cardinal Green and ongoing engagement programs, OOS can continuously involve the campus in conservation throughout the year, with focused attention on the areas of greatest impact. OOS continues to incorporate findings from the latest research and best practices in promoting behavior change, and draws on assessments and evaluations to identify the greatest programmatic opportunities. 

Business Systems

The SEM business systems initiative addresses utilities data integration, resource efficiency, and data analytics to effectively measure and manage Stanford’s resources. This initiative improves business processes, promotes data-driven decisions, and offers analytical tools to optimize efficiency in the campus infrastructure and operations.

Communications, Training and Education

OOS works to promote existing sustainability programs and to enhance campus-wide sustainability actions through a variety of communication and education channels. This site serves as the main source of information on sustainability across campus, and includes extensive information on campus metrics, trends, and initiatives. Regular updates are available through the Cardinal Green Newsletter, and numerous trainings and events throughout the year invite the campus community to participate in the thriving culture of sustainability. 

Collaborative Governance

A core value such as sustainability is best integrated through collaborative governance, especially in a large institution like Stanford. Through strategic partnerships among administrative departments, faculty, and students, sustainability is embedded as a value-add supporting Stanford’s mission of education, research, and outreach. OOS programs continue to benefit from the guidance of this framework, and its staff directly address content creation and information dissemination as warranted by each group. Collaborative governance by faculty, staff, and students serves as the engine for all programmatic areas. 

Organizational Effectiveness

The Sustainability & Energy Management (SEM) department provides utilities, building operation, and sustainability services to the entire university.  To best serve Stanford, SEM has emphasized organizational effectiviness to ensure efficiency across all aspects of operation. In this way, OOS continuously evaluates and improves its administrative efficiency.  These programs help to enhance the strategic framework for sustainability and adept management of energy, water and other utilities services at Stanford.