Energy Initiatives

Stanford’s suite of energy-saving programs targets large-scale building retrofits; small-scale retrofits; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) controls; user habits; and new construction. In addition, the university is demonstrating solar technologies at several sites on campus.

Whole Building Energy Retrofits Program (WBERP)

The university has allocated $30 million for major capital improvements to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus. The first overhaul, of the Stauffer Chemistry Building, was finished in June 2007 and resulted in a 35 percent drop in electricity use, a 43 percent cut in steam use and 62 percent fall in chilled water use. It also cut energy costs by 46 percent in the first 12 months.

As of August 2015, the university had completed 15 WBERP projects, which are saving annually 9.5 million kWh, 5 million ton-hrs of chilled water, and 71 million pounds of steam, representing over 14,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and more than $4.5 million per year. An additional 12 projects are in the pipeline, which are projected to save another $2.3 million per year.

Systems retrofits to the most energy-intensive buildings on campus are expected to save $4.2 million a year and cut energy use by 28 percent.

Download the Energy fact sheet

WBERP Case Studies

Energy Retrofit Program (ERP Rebates)

ERP Custom Projects

The Energy Retrofit Program (ERP) recently celebrated its 20 year anniversary. Since 1993, over 500 ERP projects have been completed, for cumulative annual energy savings of more than 37 million kWh per year. While the WBERP program focuses on the large central HVAC systems on campus, the ERP program promotes efficiency through building-level technology upgrades, such as premium efficiency T8 lamps and electronic ballasts, LED lighting, variable-speed drives for motors, high efficiency air compressors, high-efficiency lab freezers, and spectrally selective window film. Any campus department that is a customer of Stanford Utilities can apply for ERP rebates for projects that save electricity or thermal energy. For more information, contact Leslie Kramer.

Energy Retrofit Program

ERP Case Studies

ERP Express: Office Equipment

Reduced electrical consumption within individual workstations and shared office areas is a major goal of the Building Level Sustainability Program. To support facility managers and building-level "green champions" seeking an extra incentive to make strategic purchases and operational decisions, ERP Express for Office Equipment offers small rebates for the purchase and installation of appliance timers and Smart Strips. Download the ERP express application form for eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, as well as other important information about the rebate program.

ERP Application - PDF

ERP Express: Laboratory Equipment

Sustainability and Energy Management (SEM) offers financial incentives to labs that put DNA and RNA samples into ambient (room temperature) storage and/or replace old ultra-low temperature freezers. The FY15 program makes it easier for researchers to try new biological sample storage technologies and earn rebates up to $4,000. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the School of Medicine (SOM) sustainability page to learn more about sustainable alternatives to frozen sample storage. Researchers on campus can earn cash back through ERP Express for Laboratory Equipment. Continue reading for a full history of the Room Temperature Biological Sample Storage program, including pilot project results.

Sustainability and the SChool of Medicine

High Efficiency Transformers

Low-voltage transformers are used to convert the power delivered at the building entrance to the power supplied at the electrical outlets. Transformers lose power in the conversion process. Increasing the efficiency of this conversion can have a substantial impact on total building electrical consumption because transformers operate continuously whether outlets are used or not. Furthermore, because transformers emit wasted electricity as heat, inefficient transformers place a higher burden on a building’s cooling system. Stanford entered a partnership with a vendor that will lead to extensive use of higher efficiency E-Saver-3 transformers for new construction and building renovations. The transformers meet the Department of Energy’s CSL-3 standard, which offers the optimal life-cycle balance between improved efficiency and additional cost. If only 75 standard low-voltage transformers are upgraded to the CSL-3 standard, the electrical savings per year would be approximately 450,000 kWh.

Building HVAC Recommissioning Program

Stanford is systematically reviewing the HVAC systems of 90 of its largest buildings, then adjusting or repairing the systems to ensure they work as designed. Technicians who conduct the reviews also recommend ways to further improve energy performance through ERP projects. All 90 buildings have been through an initial round of retrocommissioning and each building is revisited every four years.

Energy Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP)

Introduced in spring 2004, this program aims to give schools and administrative units a financial incentive to use less electricity. The program sets a budget based on past consumption and lets participants "cash in" unused kilowatt-hours; those that exceed their electricity budgets pay the difference out of their own funds.

By the end of the program’s third full year, participants collectively used 3 percent less electricity than budgeted – netting a total rebate of $830,000. The program aims to reduce electricity use by 5 percent from a 2003 baseline. A number of schools and administrative units have achieved this goal, but others have had their baselines adjusted upward to accommodate additional electricity use from new buildings and expansions of research-driven activity.

Energy Conservation Incentive Program

New Construction Energy-Performance Standard

In 2015, the university embraced a new method of benchmarking that allows for a more holistic, and also more rigorous, method for designing high-performance buildings. The university replaced the energy efficiency goal of 30% beyond code with whole-building energy performance targets derived specifically for each new building coming online. They set the targets by comparing the new building to the energy consumption of peer buildings at other California universities, the energy consumption of similar buildings on campus, and its own best possible energy performance. This new method allows Stanford to continuously improve the energy performance of its buildings by incorporating lessons learned into each new project.

Solar Projects

In April 2015, Stanford signed into contract 5.5 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) to be installed at 15 sites on campus. Initially, the university audited and analyzed more than 60 campus sites for suitability for photovoltaic systems. Sites were selected based on aesthetic and historical impact to campus along with orientation, roof size and slope, and construction. Stanford plans to have the panels fully installed and generating power in late 2016. Also in April 2015, Stanford entered into an agreement with SunPower to build a 73 MW solar PV plant that will supply 50% of Stanford’s electricity for at least the next 25 years. The following additional solar projects contribute to a growing portfolio of renewable energy:

  • In the recently completed Science and Engineering Quad, the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment + Energy Building showcases four PV installations totaling 15 kilowatts (kW). The Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center and Spilker Engineering & Applied Sciences Building both have 30 kW systems that were installed in 2010, and the Shriram Center for Bio-engineering & Chemical Engineering has an 83 kW system that was installed in 2013.
  • The Leslie Shao-ming Sun Field Station at Jasper Ridge has a 22 (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal heating systems.
  • Synergy House has a 10-kW PV system, partly funded and installed by students and house alumni, who worked with Student Housing on the project.
  • Stanford’s Utilities Division installed a 30-kW PV system to offset the energy used for pumping water into storage reservoirs.
  • Student Housing operates a solar water heating system at Roth House and has partnered with the Civil and Environmental Engineering department to demonstrate two solar water heating technologies in the Governor’s Corner residence.
  • A 40.8-kW PV system supplies electricity to Lou Henry Hoover House, the university president’s residence. To preserve the historic structure and optimize solar gain, the system was installed on the adjacent San Juan Reservoir roof.

By the end of 2016, 65% of Stanford's total electricity supply will come from renewable sources.

Room Temperature Biological Sample Storage

Stanford recently completed a pilot project to evaluate a novel technology that promises to reduce energy consumption, achieve sustainability goals, and optimize laboratory space. Using a proprietary stabilization technology, biological samples that are typically stored frozen can be stored at room temperature. Laboratories can reduce dependency on costly freezers and reduce both energy consumption and their carbon footprint. The pilot was designed to assess the current economic and environmental impact of freezer-based storage, provide “hands-on” experience with this new technology, and extrapolate the potential benefit of room temperature biological sample storage to the entire campus. Based on the spring 2009 pilot results, the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management partnered with the School of Medicine to develop and offer a rebate program to incentivize early freezer retirement and adoption of room temperature storage technology.

Room Temperature Storage Pilot Report

Initial implementation, results, and the programmatic goals for the next funding cycle can be summarized as follows:

  • The Department of Sustainability and Energy Management and the School of Medicine launched a “cash for clunkers” rebate program in fall 2009 to encourage replacement of ultra-low-temperature (-80º) freezers
  • Cash incentives were provided for the following actions:
    • Freezer retirement without replacement
    • Freezer retirement with an energy-efficient replacement and/or room temperature storage conversions
    • Placing new samples directly into room temperature storage
  • Educational symposium held in March 2010 showcased pilot project success with room temperature storage and increased publicity and awareness
  • Program participation in FY10 exceeded expectations with freezer retirement, but did not meet adoption goals for room temperature storage
  • The FY11 program will be reshaped to address identified barriers:
    • 1st costs of room temperature storage technology
    • Labor costs for room temperature storage conversion
  • Refocused educational campaign will promote room temperature storage as industry leaders work to develop technology to store proteins, complex samples, assays, and cells

Desktop Power Management

Using the Big Fix software already found on most Windows computers on campus, Stanford University encourages you to participate in the Stanford Power Management program. You can reduce your carbon footprint, save energy, and even be eligible to participate in a PG&E rebate program.

Desktop Power Management program