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Energy demand plays a significant role as our research institution continues to grow. To ensure a sustainable campus and meet increased energy needs, Stanford has identified and implemented innovative energy conservation tactics. These tactics have advanced over the university’s decades-long commitment to energy efficiency, while upholding California’s rigorous energy regulations. In addition to reducing overall energy usage, Stanford has also made strides in incorporating renewables into its portfolio through the Stanford Energy System Innovations project.

Stanford’s Energy and Climate Action Plan outlines strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will require a significant decrease in energy use campus-wide. To achieve energy goals, Stanford employs holistic and long-term approaches, from stringent energy-performance standards for new buildings and retrofits of existing buildings, to behavior programs that encourage energy conservation.

As of 2020, Stanford has reduced energy intensity on campus 36% from a 2000 baseline, and systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus have saved more than $4 million a year. Learn about ongoing conservation initiatives.


View the latest Sustainability Year in Review to explore more in-depth energy consumption data. 

  • The Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program (WBERP) is implementing major energy retrofits at McCullough (Jack A), Terman Engineering Laboratory and Chemical Biology (Lorey Lokey), and Green Earth Sciences, which together will save over $400,000 per year.  The retrofit includes installing the latest high-efficiency lab control systems and new Direct Digital Controls to meet new campus standards. These four projects are the last of 28 retrofit projects funded under WBERP.  The program was launched in 2004 to encourage energy retrofits in the highest energy using buildings on campus.
  • Over 25  Energy Retrofit Projects (ERPs) were completed in 2018-19, with an estimated savings of over $300,000 per year. Projects ranged in scope from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, and interior and exterior lighting retrofits, to high-efficiency freezers and bio-safety cabinets.
  • Stanford’s Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation took advantage of the ERP rebate program to install LED lighting in Arrillaga Gymnasium and Weight Room, which improved light quality and saves $8,000 per year.
  • Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises received over $20,000 in ERP rebates in 2018 to help fund LED lighting projects in stairwells and dining halls.  The stairwells include occupancy sensors that dim light to 50% when stairs are unoccupied.
  • The Physics Astrophysics Building completed dehumidification system improvements in 2018, which save over $7,000 per year.
  • The School of Medicine made additional improvements at the Fairchild Science Building in 2018-19 specifically related to lab air flow adjustments, which are estimated to reduce energy use by over $50,000 per year.