thermal storage tank in the sun


Stanford adopted a long-term approach in developing climate action strategies because decisions regarding building design, energy infrastructure, and energy supply have lasting impact and should be based on a planning horizon equivalent to the lifecycle of these investments. The benefits of Stanford's new energy supply system are substantial.

  • The new energy system is 70 percent more efficient than the previous combined heat and power plant, due to significant heat recovery and lower line losses from hot water distribution compared to steam.
  • Powering the CEF with grid-based electricity provides higher reliability, lower costs, and greater flexibility for greener power procurement than the previous natural-gas fired power plant. Stanford procures its electricity through Direct Access (wholesale purchases as opposed to purchasing from a retail utility), which enables the university to decide how much of its electricity will come from renewable sources. Stanford has committed to procuring much of its electricity from solar and geothermal power plants starting in 2016.
  • The energy efficiency gains of the CEF and hot water distribution, along with the ability to power the plant with renewable electricity, will reduce Stanford's scope I and II greenhouse gas emissions by 68 percent.     
  • The CEF's heat recovery system will reduce Stanford's potable water consumption by 15 percent, as the majority of the waste heat from the chilled water loop is reused instead of being discharged out the evaporative cooling towers.
  • The CEF and hot water distribution system was the lowest life-cycle-cost option and will pay Stanford back $420 million dollars over the next 35 years.