Redwood City

As with the main campus, sustainability is a cornerstone of the Redwood City campus design and culture, with extensive thought given to opportunities to advance progress and innovations. If you have specific questions or ideas, or would like to get involved with sustainability at Redwood City, please e-mail

Login to My Cardinal Green for actions that you can take to reduce your personal environmental footprint on the new campus, and explore more about campus action by category. You can also check out our quick overview of what's new (or staying the same), and consider getting involved in the Sustainability Working Team

Working Team | Energy | Building and Grounds |  Waste | Water | Transportation |  Food  


Stanford in Redwood City will support the university’s goal to become 80% carbon free by 2025, and relies on a smaller version of the campus Central Energy Facility (CEF) for heating and cooling. Developers looked at a range of options to evaluate the most environmentally and economically efficient option, and ultimately determined that the central model yielded the greatest results. The new plant features:

  • One 600-ton Heat Recovery Chiller, 
  • A 1 million-gallon capacity chilled water thermal energy storage tank,
  • Three 8,000 gallon capacity hot water thermal energy storage tanks,
  • and backup chillers and hot water generators.

The new system is a 1/10 scale of the campus CEF and incorporates all of the same concepts of heat recovery and thermal energy storage, demonstrating scalability of the main campus model. It provides all of the heating demand for the new campus through recovered waste heat, as well as saves approximately $60 million in operating costs over 30 years compared to a traditional local building heating and cooling system.

The Redwood City campus also ties into Stanford’s electricity procurement, and thus gets 65% of its electricity from renewable sources, the majority of which comes from the Stanford Solar Generating Station. When second Generating Station comes online in 2021, this number will increase to 100%.

Buildings and Grounds

The Redwood City campus takes into account best practices from years of efficient design. The buildings feature state-of-the-art controls that monitor occupancy, temperature, and outside light to maximize efficiency. All of the buildings feature floor-to-ceiling windows (as well as mechanical shades for the summer months!) to augment both heating and light needs inside the building. These unique features minimize the need for any additional personal comfort equipment (e.g., space heaters, fans), as the conditions are optimized based on the people in the room. Programs like Cardinal Print offer streamlined services to maximize efficiency across operations. The landscape incorporates bio-swales for water retention, as well as native plants similar to those on the campus environment, to both enhance the Stanford look and feel, as well as conserve water.


Waste is managed through Recology in Redwood City, and incorporates a number of unique features that differentiate from Stanford’s main campus.  The campus offers opportunities to test and evaluate new solutions as the university works to become zero-waste, defined as 90% diversion or higher, by 2030. A key component of the diversion effort is a streamlined recycling system that combines plastic, metal, and glass with paper into one bin. This aims to minimize confusion at the bin, as well as logistical issues for janitorial staff. Centralized waste stations in anchor points, water points and common areas on the floor rather than individual bins at desks reduce the amount of chemical cleaning supplies needed, further simplify sorting for occupants, and offer wellness benefits by encouraging actual steps to recycle and compost. All kitchenette stations feature composting as well, and bathrooms in Redwood City will also offer paper towel composting, which was identified as a key solution to incorporate into our waste diversion practices to reach our zero waste goal. Paper towels will also be composted in the fitness area of the Redwood City recreation center. 


All Redwood City buildings follow California’s Title 24 requirements to incorporate water-efficient fixtures, including toilets, faucets, showers, and urinals. Water meters will monitor consumption to ensure that plumbing fixtures reduce overall potable water use by 20% compared to normal. Additionally, recycled water is used prominently throughout Redwood City, and on the Stanford campus it will primarily serve as irrigation for the landscape. Advanced irrigation controls and sub-metering specifically for the landscape features will help to identify further opportunity for efficiency.


Stanford’s Redwood City transportation program prioritizes sustainable commutes, and has a host of programs to that aim to reduce the drive-alone rate to the Redwood City campus. Eligible commuters can enjoy many of the same programs available on campus, including Commute Club, Clean Air Cash, free carpool permits and vanpools, and other rewards. Staff are encouraged to take advantage of public transportation and shuttles to campus, and can receive free Caltrain Go Pass, SamTrans pass, and VTA SmartPass, along with bicycle amenities. Visit Stanford Transportation for more information on alternative commute options and services for Redwood City. 


Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) manages the Cardinal Café and Catering Services for Redwood City, and its commitment to sustainability remains a key component of its operations there. R&DE prioritizes local, organic, humanely raised, fairly traded food, as well as food from family-owned farms and sustainable fisheries. The Café also features a food donation program and encourages the use of reusable serviceware to minimize waste. Popular programs like the Seed Library and “Know Your Food” will continue to offer staff engaging opportunities to explore their relationship with food.