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Impact

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Stanford’s sustainability initiatives show how universities can lead the fight against climate change

Sustainability is more than a research topic at Stanford. It imbues all levels of university operations. Stanford’s solar and geothermal power procurement initiatives, along with its SESI Central Energy Facility electric heat recovery system, which opened in April 2015, will reduce campus emissions by roughly 68 percent and conserve 15 percent of campus potable water. By the end of 2016, Stanford will procure 65 percent of its power from renewable sources, a proportion that will continue to increase. 

Stanford is on track to exceed, several years ahead of schedule, the state, national and international energy goals for 2020 that derive from the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In October 2015, Stanford trustees urged delegates to the Paris Climate Conference to look to research universities to provide similar leadership in the global search for climate change solutions.

“Universities have a special role to play, both as knowledge centers that develop technological and policy innovations and as large organizations that have the opportunity to model sustainable operational practices,” wrote board chairman Steven A. Denning and university President John L. Hennessy.

Meanwhile, with the 2020 goals in sight, Stanford is already working toward the U.N. framework’s 2050 goals.