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Climate Action Planning

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Climate Action Plan Update

The Stanford Office of Sustainability is updating the University’s Climate Action Plan to meet our commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Climate Action Plan will act as a comprehensive roadmap that outlines the specific activities we will undertake to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new plan is aimed to be released in the summer of 2024. Over the coming months, the sections of the plan will be developed by content leads, that will seek input through their working groups and community forums that will occur in the fall of 2023. All members of the Stanford community are encouraged to engage in the process and are invited to complete the Stakeholder Interest Form to share comments and interests.

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To provide leadership in climate change solutions using Stanford’s intellectual and financial resources, even if these efforts may differ from popular perceptions of how to pursue GHG reduction or are greater than what governmental regulations require.


To provide for both specific short- and long-term actions to achieve GHG goals and provide flexibility to accommodate new technologies and changes in climate science as they are developed.

Climate Action History

Stanford released a Climate and Energy Action Plan in 2015, addressing Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and a Scope 3 Emissions Fuel & Energy Activities white paper in 2019. At that time of the 2015 plan, the GHG inventory and forecasting process revealed that the current and projected sources of Stanford’s energy use and GHG emissions required a balance of investment between energy demand and energy supply. Stanford’s plans for significant growth further amplify the need for special attention to the demand component required for new construction. To meet this challenge, Stanford’s Energy and Climate Plan provided an adept balance between three areas of the energy management equation:

Minimizing Energy Demand in New Buildings

Constructing new, high-performance buildings that minimize the impact of growth on campus energy systems and GHG emissions is a key strategy at Stanford. The Guidelines for Sustainable Buildings and Guidelines for Life Cycle Cost Analysis provide the framework for sustainability in campus growth.

Demand in Green Buildings

Reducing Energy Use in Existing Buildings

Since the 1980s, Stanford has employed energy metering of all its facilities to understand how and where energy is being used with the goal of reducing waste. While the university has pursued aggressive energy conservation for many years, a continuance and expansion of these programs is another key strategy of the Energy and Climate Plan. Building on Stanford’s substantial successes and culture of innovation and leadership, demand-side energy management will continue to be a critical driver in reducing campus emissions.

Stanford Energy Initiatives & Energy-Saving Programs

Greening Energy Supply

Stanford has used natural gas-fired cogeneration for virtually all its energy since 1989. However, fossil fuel use in cogeneration is the largest contributor of GHG emissions for Stanford and development of new options that assure reliability, contain cost, and reduce GHG are an essential third strategy in the Energy and Climate Plan.

Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI)

Energy & Climate Plan Process

Five key steps were followed to produce the Climate Action Plan.

Steps to the Climate Action Plan