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Stanford has raised the bar on efficiency with a first-of-its-kind heat recovery system and integration of international best practices in district heating and cooling to address the complex needs of one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities. Due to SESI, the university greatly exceeds compliance requirements to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and it also allows for energy demand management—selecting the time of day to use the energy, working with the California grid, and more accurately forecasting campus load to better manage energy needs.  

Stanford has developed a replicable, global solution that reduces overall campus emissions by 68 percent and potable water usage by 18 percent, thus saving an estimated $420 million over the next 35 years.


reduction of GHG emissions from peak levels due to SESI


reduction in campus potable water usage due to SESI


paid back over the next 35 years (since 2017)

Making Headlines

From its change management process and architecture to its energy efficiency, SESI has attracted the attention of architectural firms, the energy industry, and sustainability-minded corporations for being a living example of beauty, sustainability, and resilience.

Awards & Recognition

Reliability of the System

With sustainability as an integral part of its mission, Stanford provides its own utility services to its constituents, allowing for climate-forward strategies, swift innovation, and genuine receptivity to the needs of a teaching and research environment. 


Solar panels in California

Serving California’s Energy Market

Stanford’s investment in solar energy projects plays a huge role in the university’s and California’s sustainability and climate goals. Powering the Central Energy Facility (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, to which the university remains committed.

Renewable Energy

What's Next

From the Central Energy Facility to achieving 100% renewable electricity, Stanford has taken great strides towards a more sustainable future through campus operations. The university continues to explore new ideas and innovations to advance goals for energy efficiency.