Energy efficiency programs have been prominent on campus since the ’80s. Metering campus buildings has paid dividends throughout the last decade in developing more advanced programs to improve energy efficiency. Stanford’s Energy and Climate Plan includes continued efficiency improvements for existing buildings, and FEM follows the overall plan as a blueprint.

FEM works closely with Land, Buildings & Real Estate’s Operations and Zone Management departments as well as facilities staff in Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE); the Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER); and the School of Medicine (SOM) to ensure buildings are operated efficiently. FEM also manages multiple programs that offer technical and financial assistance to facility managers, department leads, and building occupants to encourage implementation of energy efficiency projects.


As of 2014, Stanford has reduced energy intensity on campus 8% from a 2000 baseline, despite continued campus growth.

  • The Whole Building Energy Retrofit Program (WBERP) seeks to reduce energy consumption in Stanford’s most energy-intensive buildings. This $30 million capital program began in 2004 to address the 12 campus buildings consuming the most energy and now includes the top 27, which represent 60% of total campus energy use. Retrofits have been completed in 15 buildings thus far and have saved more than $4.5 million a year in energy costs. The program has also yielded over $2 million in financial incentives via Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) rebates. In 2014-15, construction was completed on a controls upgrade project at the Clark Center that is expected to save over $400,000 per year. Designs were completed for retrofits at the Mechanical Engineering Lab and Varian, and energy studies were completed for the Physics/Astrophysics Building and Lorry Lokey (Chem/Bio).
  • Since 1993, the Energy Retrofit Program (ERP) has provided rebates to Stanford Utility users who install efficiency upgrades within their facilities. Rebates cover some or all of the upgrade costs, depending on the project payback period. Thirteen ERP projects were completed in 2014-15, for estimated savings of over $600,000 per year. These included heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades, new LED lighting, new air compressors, and server virtualization.
Chemical controls in Avery Aquatic Center

Chemical controls in Avery Aquatic Center

  • With ERP support, DAPER completed a major HVAC upgrade at the Arrillaga Family Sports Center that is projected to save nearly $200,000 per year; DAPER also completed projects focused on improved controls systems at the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, Avery Aquatic Center, Ford Center, and the stadium that will save another $225,000 in fiscal year 2015-16. SOM completed a large air handler upgrade project at the Medical School Office Building, a large lab lighting upgrade, and a controls project at Falk Center, which are saving over $40,000 per year. R&DE undertook multiple LED upgrades at the majority of dining halls on campus, saving over $9,000 per year altogether.
  • Operations staff continue to monitor building performance, looking for improvement opportunities related to operating schedules, HVAC set points, and maintenance work. In 2014-15 the team completed 23 HVAC recommissioning projects. It also rolled out the new Utility Metering, Billing, Reporting, and Sustainability database tool for operations staff. This new tool provides a central user interface for energy use monitoring and analysis. It simplifies the tasks associated with identifying excess energy use and other anomalies.
  • The FEM team received rebates from PG&E totaling over $70,000 for 2014-15 projects completed at Arrillaga Alumni Center and SOM.

Overall energy intensity (measured in thousand British thermal units per usable square foot, kBtu/USF) remains less than it was in 2000. The suite of energy-saving programs targeting large-scale building retrofits, small-scale retrofits, and HVAC controls, coupled with new construction standards, has contributed to this trend.


Other notable performance trends include the following:

  • Heating energy (utility hot water and steam) consumption per usable square foot had been relatively flat since 2009 but decreased 9% in 2014. A notable decrease in 2009 correlated with the completion of major HVAC upgrade projects in multiple buildings.
  • Chilled water consumption per usable square foot increased 10% in 2014, a rise correlated with the coming online of new energy-intensive research facilities.

Academic Integration

The FEM team engages frequently with research faculty to better understand energy demand inherent to their work and tailors program offerings accordingly. FEM provides input on the types of HVAC and energy management sensors deployed in buildings, the quality and resolution of the resultant data, how the data are currently managed and utilized, and future opportunities for improvement in sensor performance, data storage, and smart applications for processing the data. FEM staff also regularly interact with faculty in the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE). FEM team members serve as guest speakers for CIFE courses, help review student projects, and provide feedback on research needs regarding the operation of high-performance buildings.

Stanford’s Energy Conservation Incentive Program, established in 2004, provides schools and administrative units a financial incentive to use less electricity. The program sets budgets 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. FEM completed a large analysis in 2013 to recalibrate the budgets of the schools and units to more closely match them with expected performance. The analysis highlighted that on average, most units are coming in well under budget.

Looking Ahead

New controls monitoring system at SOM

New controls monitoring system at SOM

Under WBERP, construction will begin early next year at the Mechanical Engineering Laboratory and Varian. When completed, these projects are expected to save over $350,000 per year. SOM, with supplemental ERP funding, will undertake multiple HVAC improvements at the Center for Clinical Sciences Research and the Medical School Lab Surge building that were identified through WBERP studies. These projects are projected to save over $300,000 per year. Next year will also see extensive energy efficiency lighting upgrades in academic buildings through a partnership between the Buildings and Grounds Maintenance group re-ballasting program and ERP.

In the coming year the FEM team will continue to work collaboratively with building occupants and operations and management staff to further improve airflow management in large laboratory buildings. These facilities are typically the largest energy consumers on campus due to the high air change rates required for occupant safety, which represent a large HVAC load. Studies conducted in 2014 identified innovative strategies to reduce HVAC-related energy needs in lab buildings, and WBERP projects are already including some of those measures.

Building control upgrades will continue to be a primary focus for energy efficiency savings in 2016. In addition, FEM will be working closely with operations and maintenance partners to extract additional benefits from control systems data by researching and vetting new software analytics tools like Fault Detection and Diagnostics, Predictive Maintenance, and Performance Optimization.

In 2016, the FEM team will continue to maximize the benefits of the Stanford Energy System Innovations project to further optimize the energy efficiency of the campus. The new Central Energy Facility (CEF) and campus buildings work together with unprecedented synergies that enable macro-level tuning of energy efficiency. Actively managing building-level energy demand maximizes the efficiency of the CEF, and concurrently optimizing the energy supply to campus maximizes efficiency in each building.