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Update - 11/1/2019

Stanford has withdrawn its long-term land use permit application and will focus on deepening engagement with local communities. Read the statement.

Sustainability and Open Space

Woman hiking at Stanford Dish Area at sunset.
Sustainability and Open Space

Stanford is committed to minimizing our environmental footprint.

Stanford’s academic open space is an important part of our community. Under the proposed General Use Permit, Stanford will continue to lead by example in minimizing our environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

Staff and students at the BioBlitz, an annual survey of Lagunita.

Open space

The proposed General Use Permit only requests development within the university's core academic campus. Stanford is not proposing development in the 2,000 acres of land it owns in the foothills.

View the map of campus development areas

SEQ surrounded by palm trees
Stanford’s development under the proposed General Use Permit will be in the core campus area. The Science and Engineering Quad, adjacent to the Main Quad, is a past example of this type of growth.
Development in the core campus will continue the sustainability practices that have led to reductions in water use and greenhouse gas emissions.
People get on the Marguerite at Palo Alto station
Locating new academic and residential facilities within the core campus preserves access to public transit, decreasing the need for commuters to drive to campus.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Recognized as one of two platinum-rated institutions of higher learning globally for its achievements in sustainability, Stanford has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 68% from peak levels. With the recent announcement of a second solar farm, Stanford will be using 100% clean and renewable energy by 2021 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from peak levels.

Stanford will be using 100% clean and renewable energy by 2021 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from peak levels.
SESI's inner mechanics.

Sustainable innovations

Stanford’s groundbreaking campus heating and cooling system—Stanford Energy System Innovations or SESI—relies on a heat-recovery process that is 70% more efficient than its predecessor.
Solar panels in Kern County, California.

Green energy

Over 50% of Stanford’s electricity is generated from campus rooftop solar panels and the Stanford Solar Generating Station. The recently announced second solar generating plant will enable the university to use 100% renewable energy by 2021.
Students riding their bicycles on campus

Sustainable commuting

Through a robust transportation demand management program, 57% of the university community commutes sustainably, opting to use a mode of transit other than driving alone in a car.

Looking ahead

Under the proposed 2018 General Use Permit, Stanford will be on track to achieve California’s greenhouse gas emissions standards through 2035, including being on pace to meet Governor Jerry Brown’s target of an 80% reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.

biking down campus drive

On track to being 80% carbon-free by 2021

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne recently announced that the university is four years ahead of schedule in its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.
100% Electric sign on Marguerite Shuttle.

Marguerite Shuttle fleet to be fully electric

Stanford is converting its entire fleet of Marguerite Shuttles to be fully electric, which will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 2,900 metric tons per year.
An array of solar panels with Stanford Engineering Quad in background

Solar-powered Stanford

A constellation of 32 structures with solar panels on their rooftops produce electricity for the Stanford campus.

Habitat conservation

Stanford worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife to prepare a plan to restore and enhance habitat areas to stabilize or increase populations of endangered species, including the California tiger salamander.

Learn more about conservation efforts

California tiger salamander

Water conservation

Reducing potable water consumption

Stanford reduced its potable water consumption from FY 2001 levels by about 30% in FY 2015, despite substantial campus growth. At the height of California’s historic 5-year drought, Stanford responded to the call for additional mandatory water conservation measures. In FY 2018, after exiting the drought, Stanford’s reduction from FY 2001 levels was 45%.

Students around a Water booth.

Investing in innovation

Stanford broke ground on an experimental anaerobic wastewater treatment plant in Redwood Shores, California. This new method may be 40% smaller than traditional waste plants, produce 30% less solid waste, and cost $2 million less per year to operate.

Welding a building seam.
Students at a table during the Sustainability Fest.

Sustainable Stanford and more than 35 campus partners come together annually to showcase the university's most inspiring sustainability initiatives and empower attendees to make sustainability choices in daily life.

What are the impacts?

The Final Environmental Impact Report (final EIR) finds that air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions are expected to decrease under the proposed General Use Permit. In a few cases, impacts might increase but, with mitigation, can be minimized.

Learn more about the final EIR