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Fall Campaign: Cardinal Green Buildings

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Stanford operates and maintains hundreds of campus buildings. While advanced systems ensure these buildings operate efficiently, a critical tool in helping further reduce Stanford’s energy use is the collective action of building occupants. Since 2001, turning off heating systems and custodial services in buildings during holiday breaks, as well as the conservation behaviors of building occupants to support these efforts, has avoided more than $4.9 million in utility costs over the past 18 yearsView a detailed breakdown of annual savings here. 

Through the Cardinal Green Buildings campaign, the Office of Sustainability and SEM Business Services (SSBS) works with partners in Facilities Energy Management (FEM) and Zone Management to develop additional opportunities for targeted energy conservation. The campaign engages and educates our campus community in energy reduction measures that can have a significant impact on building sustainability. In addition to targeted actions around energy conservation, explore your building rating to learn about conservation opportunities. 

Get Involved


There are a number of actions that can reduce your energy footprint, support building sustainability, and earn you rewards when you do! Attend a training or unplug your computer equipment before leaving for the holidays, and help make sure your building is maximizing efficiency potential. 

Building Managers

At the building level, the campaign targets turning off heating and ventilation systems, as well as custodial services, to conserve energy during closures.  FEM and SSBS work with specific buildings to facilitate a shutdown during Thanksgiving and Winter Closures, and with some buildings during shorter long-weekend holiday periods.

Background and Results

Since 2001, the annual Winter Closure Program has served an important role in energy conservation at Stanford. Previously voluntary, winter closure became mandatory in 2003 via a program administered jointly by the Department of Sustainability & Energy Management and Zone Management. In recent years, SEM and Zone Management have also begun to target Thanksgiving and other extended holidays in a similar manner.

Winter Closure has resulted in a cumulative net energy cost savings of over $5.6 million since its inception. In 2020, a total of 155 buildings participated in the program for 3 weeks to save: 

  • 874,586 kilowatt-hours of electricity
  • 4,954 million BTU of thermal energy (combination of hot water and process steam savings)
  • 202,603 ton-hours of chilled water savings
  • $410,890 in operating savings
  • 765 metric tons of CO2 emissions avoided

In 2019, the campus achieved the following energy and cost savings:

  • 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity
  • 4,095 million BTU of thermal energy (combination of hot water and process steam savings)
  • 53,734 ton-hours of chilled water savings
  • $350,930 in operating savings
  • 555 metric tons of CO2 emissions avoided