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At Stanford, we continue to tackle new challenges with innovative and practical solutions to model an environmentally sustainable institution to help our campus, local, and global community understand, mitigate, and adapt to the changing climate.  We partner with an insightful and engaged community of faculty, students, and staff to function as a living laboratory of sustainability in action, modeling best practices in planning and operating a premier research and teaching institution in an efficient and sustainable way.

Unique Stanford landmarks like the Central Energy Facility (CEF), the Codiga Resource Recovery Center, and the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm, serve as implementation models and learning centers for thousands of researchers and visitors from all over the world, while also providing educational experiences for our students. We have undertaken ambitious initiatives to advance progress and create a thriving environment. Testament to this vision is our commitment to function on 100% renewable electricity by 2022, reducing our campus greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from peak levels. We are also preparing and aligning for a 90% recycling and diversion coined "Zero Waste Stanford by 2030," using the principles of sustainable materials management.

Continuing Momentum

While work in maintaining a diverse and dynamic portfolio continues, the university has an eye on the horizon for deeper impact and action. Investigations include:

Deeper Decarbonization: In 2019, the university began to explore strategies to increase its emissions reductions further, with plans to phase out natural gas-powered equipment. With carbon from direct emissions 80% reduced, the next steps are to electrify the remaining equipment in buildings, transition additional departments to the campus thermal system, and Lake Water Heat Exchange. The next frontier of decarbonization lies in Scope 3 emissions accounting, program development, and systematic reduction of carbon in several aspects of the institution’s travel footprint and supply chain; an initial inventory is underway.   

Climate Adaptation and Resiliency:  As severe weather events become more frequent and intense, resilience has become an increasingly important issue for all institutions. Through a comprehensive vulnerability assessment to address risks, the institution is preparing to both adapt (respond to the impacts of climate change) and be resilient (prepare and recover from adverse impacts) in coming decades to be in synch with the realities of the changed climate.  

Zero Waste by 2030:  The university is actively progressing on its path toward recycling and diverting more than 90% of material from the landfill by 2030. Stanford initiated a Zero Waste Feasibility Study in 2017, which provided a more detailed understanding of waste streams and informed strategies to further reduce waste generation. In 2019, pilot programs to evaluate these solutions began in Stanford’s Redwood City Campus.

Robust Community Engagement: The efforts of everyone at Stanford – students, faculty and staff – are crucial to creating a more sustainable campus, and ensuring that our community members exist as sustainable citizens in the world at large. My Cardinal Green has established the framework through which to engage our community in a personal way, and the next steps will aim to broaden participation and integration with various university communities.

Key Highlights

Sustainability Achievement

Platinum Rating

🥇 Doctoral/Research institutions

🥇 Diversity & Affordability

Platinum Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) since 2017

Stanford holds representations in organizations like the Green Sports Alliance, Ivy+ Consortium, California Higher Education Sustainability Consortium, and Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Conference, to name a few.

By this year

Carbon Free Energy Supply

Sustainable Water Management

Aggressive Energy Demand Management as a Smart Campus

High-Performance Buildings

Emphasis on Alternative Transportation

Responsible Waste Management

Sustainability in Residential Life

Business Systems

Sustainability Culture and Engagement