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Energy & Climate

Energy demand plays a significant role as our research institution continues to grow. To ensure a sustainable campus and meet increased energy needs, Stanford has identified and implemented innovative energy conservation tactics. These tactics have advanced over the university’s decades-long commitment to energy efficiency, while upholding California’s rigorous energy regulations. In addition to reducing overall energy usage, Stanford has also made strides in incorporating renewables into its portfolio through the Stanford Energy System Innovations project.

Stanford’s Energy and Climate Action Plan outlines strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will require a significant decrease in energy use campus-wide. To achieve energy goals, Stanford employs holistic and long-term approaches, from stringent energy-performance standards for new buildings and retrofits of existing buildings, to behavior programs that encourage energy conservation.

As of 2020, Stanford has reduced energy intensity on campus 36% from a 2000 baseline, and systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus have saved more than $4 million a year. Learn about ongoing conservation initiatives.


View the latest Sustainability Year in Review to explore more in-depth energy consumption data. 

  • The Air Handling Unit Continuous Commissioning program was launched in 2020-21 to take advantage of recent process and technology advances made under the University’s “Smart Campus” initiative. The AHU CCx program’s first scrum team got to work in June 2021 and has already identified several fixable problems in AHUs, such as running air handlers continuously at the Thornton and Hewlett Teaching Center. Those schedules were adjusted resulted in energy savings over $20,000.
  • In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Stanford Health Care (SHC) facilities staff worked with the City of Palo Alto Utilities, Ecology Action’s EMPower Palo Alto program, and Stanford Facilities Energy Management to implement an energy-saving project that resulted in a total rebate of $83,414. The project upgraded the HVAC controls for twelve operating rooms, re-balanced the air flow, and implemented a schedule to reduce ventilation rates when the surgical suites are not in use late at night and on the weekends.
  • At the Beckman building, an old air compressor that served labs and the building HVAC controls had an annual energy bill of $50,000. Stanford's Facilities Energy Management team helped replace this unit with a new, high efficiency unit with half the energy usage. 
  • Stanford is nearing completion of an upgrade of the building automation system at the Chemical Biology (Lorry Lokey) Building, partially funded through the Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program (WBERP). The building is a high-density lab building, housing chemistry and biology labs and a tropical fish vivarium. The energy cost savings from the project are estimated to be nearly $200,000 per year.