At the 2016 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), Joe Stagner was recognized as the Sustainability Champion for private colleges and universities. The Sustainability Champion Award is the highest-level award given at CHESC. It goes to an individual who has promoted sustainability throughout the campus; has achieved results; has been a role model to peers around the state; and truly embodies the term “leader.” Stagner received the award for his vision and leadership of the Stanford Energy System Innovations project, an unprecedented approach to drastically reducing campus greenhouse gas emissions. The award also recognized Stagner’s generosity in sharing lessons learned from the project with other institutions. He is always willing to give a tour of the new facility, answer any questions about the project, and even model peer organizations’ annual heating and cooling demand to determine their potential for heat recovery.

As the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sustainability director put it, this champion “has adroitly sought to advance the transferability and scalability of his approach for broader impacts to tackle climate change. This sharing quality manifests the deep leadership that has produced such a groundbreaking solution.”