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Buildings & Grounds

Buildings represent one of our greatest sustainability opportunities and challenges. To evolve as a center of learning, pursue world-changing research and respond to pressing environmental concerns, Stanford designs and creates buildings that use resources wisely and provide healthy, productive environments.

In taking on this challenge, we’re inspired by Stanford’s original master plan designer – Frederick Law Olmsted, the visionary founder of American landscape architecture – and directed by Stanford’s Guidelines for Sustainable Buildings. Olmsted envisioned a resource-conserving campus that would respond to its climate and context to achieve beauty and functionality. The guidelines, which new building projects are expected to follow, update that vision for today’s context.

Stanford’s new buildings are now being designed to meet a whole-building, energy performance target. The target is unique to each new building, but based on performance of existing campus buildings of the same space type. Each new building is targeted to perform better than the peer buildings that were built before it.

Stanford green building projects

Ensuring that new buildings are as efficient as possible is essential to reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions. Energy generation for heating, cooling and electricity in buildings accounts for 93 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions – and from 2000 to 2025, we expect to build 2 million square feet of new academic facilities and new housing for 2,400 more students, faculty and staff. The Stanford University Medical Center also needs new facilities to continue meeting community and research needs.

It’s also critical that existing buildings use resources sustainably, and we’re making significant investments in efficiency upgrades that reduce energy and water use in existing buildings. See Energy and Water for details.