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.
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 85 percent of our carbon dioxide 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.
Goals & Results
Even before we build, we conduct rigorous space-utilization studies to see if we can renovate existing buildings to create space for new needs. One of our key goals is to recover 5–10 percent of the space in campus buildings. The Department of Capital Planning updated the university’s Space Planning Guidelines in 2006 and is conducting studies to ensure that we add new space only when necessary. Studies have found that offices applying the guidelines could recover up to 10 percent of their space.
To encourage more efficient use of office space, Stanford requires selected schools to pay a charge for underutilized space. Several schools are working to reduce their space charge, with efforts such as conducting master space plan studies and renovating spaces in conformance with the Space Planning Guidelines.
Stanford set new energy- and water-reduction targets in 2008. Energy use in new and significantly renovated buildings must be 30 percent more efficient on average than current energy code requirements. New buildings must reduce potable water use by 25 percent or more compared with similar traditional buildings.
Stanford’s green building projects are meeting and exceeding these goals:
- The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment + Energy Building uses 42 percent less energy and 90 percent less potable water than a similar building with traditional fixtures and systems.
- The 360,000-square-foot Knight Management Center is designed to exceed current energy efficiency standards by at least 40 percent and use half the potable water of a similar building with traditional fixtures and systems. The building recently earned a LEED-NC Platinum® rating from the U.S. Green Building Council – the organization’s highest certification level.
- The Law School's William H. Neukom Building is LEED-NC Gold-equivalent and exemplifies high-performance design and construction principles that are now common practice on campus.
Learn more about green building projects.