Top 10 Ways Stanford Keeps it Green

Located in Stanford, California is the very well known Stanford University. Because the university resides in what is known as one of the largest “cleantech states” in the United States, being California, Stanford University does what it can in an effort to bolster California’s stance as the number one sustainable state, by making their campus much more sustainable for future generations to come as well as protect the environment. Stanford University has won quite a few awards and recognition for its sustainable initiatives, including second place in the list of Newsweek’s Greenest Colleges in 2011, recognition from the College Sustainability Report Card as Sustainable Endowments Institute Overall College Sustainability Leader in 2007 and 2009 – 2011, and top listed on the U.S. Green Building Council and Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges in 2010 and 2011. Here are just a few of the sustainability initiatives Stanford University is taking on.

1 ) Stanford University Office of Sustainability. The Stanford University Office of Sustainability is dedicated to reducing the university’s environmental impact, increasing sustainability and preserving resources. The vision of the Office of Sustainability is to establish a much healthier and happier environment that will offer a plethora of opportunities to future generations. There are a number of principles the office follows, including advancing knowledge about sustainability, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, fostering land stewardship, conserving water resources, creating environmentally friendly buildings, encouraging alternative and more environmentally friendlier modes of transportation, minimizing waste, and purchasing sustainability in regards to services, products, and food.

2 ) Administration. The administration at Stanford University remains committed to sustainability via a formal plan and policy created by the Office of Sustainability, which manages all the campus-based sustainability initiatives as well as cross-functional working groups and specialized teams. The administration supports and sponsors a number of sustainability initiatives through a variety of sources, including a revolving loan fund and a green fund.

3 ) Climate Change and Energy. The objective of Stanford University is to reduce total carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent from the 1999 levels by the year 2020. A number of energy efficient technologies have been installed throughout Stanford’s campus, including energy monitoring devices. There are also a number of products that encourage the community at Stanford University to conserve energy. Stanford University also generates some of its own electricity using solar hot water systems and photovoltaic solar installations.

4 ) Food and Recycling. Stanford University commits 30 percent of its annual food budget for all campus cafeterias to the purchasing of local products, including many organic products, such as fruits and vegetables. There are also a few campus gardens where Dining Services is able to get some of their product from. Some of the eggs that Stanford University buys are confinement free. The university also purchases sustainably produced seafood and meats, and fair trade sugar, chocolate, and coffee. Students and faculty, staff, and administration receive discounts on their meals and drinks if they use reusable bags and reusable mugs. All pre-consumer and post-consumer food scraps wind up being composted rather than being thrown out.

5 ) Green Building. All new buildings being erected on the campus at Stanford University needs to meet LEED Gold Certification standards as set up by the United States Green Building Council. At Stanford’s campus, the knight Management Center is looking to meet LEED Platinum Certification. A number of other buildings are already meeting Gold and Silver Certification statuses. Throughout the campus, a number of recycled water management systems as well as storm water management technologies have also been established to further increase the sustainability of buildings.

6 ) Student Involvement. Students who attend Stanford University are able to select sustainability themed residential dormitories. The Stanford University new student orientation provides information on a number of green efforts that are going on throughout campus. There are a number of student-led groups dedicated to sustainability. There are also two main competitions held every year throughout campus aimed at reducing energy, waste, and water usage.

7 ) Transportation. More than 50 percent of all faculty, staff, and administration commute to Stanford University through sustainable means of transportation. The university provides a number of sustainable transportation options, including preferential parking as well as monetary initiatives to all employees that choose to carpool to work. There is also a ride matching programs for those who want to take part in the carpooling efforts. Employees are also provided with free access to all public transportation options while students get high discounts for the use of public transportation. The university also provides free shuttles to locations throughout campus, a bike sharing program, as well as a car sharing program.

8 ) Students for a Sustainable Stanford. Students for a Sustainable Stanford was established in 2000 to encourage the building of green buildings throughout the campus and to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions at Stanford. It is one of the most well known environmentally focused student groups at Stanford University. There are a number of subgroups for this group that focus on different issues regarding sustainability, such as climate and energy, environmental justice, a water group, and Zero-Wasters, which focuses on resource awareness and looks to improve recycling and reusing throughout campus.

9 ) Green Living Council. The Stanford University Green Living Council looks to engage students across Stanford’s campus that increases a culture whereby sustainability is integrated into every single aspect of daily campus life, including energy efficiency and recycling. The Green Living Council looks to engage students and convince them to switch to more sustainable habits without having to sacrifice a lot of make any big, drastic changes to their lives.

10 ) Stanford Community Farm. The Stanford Community Farm is located along the western side of Stanford’s campus and takes up one acre. This acre includes a large fruit plot, a number of individual plots, and communally-managed student plots. All students are allowed to visit the farm, where food and flowers are grown organically. The farm also holds a number of community workshops throughout the year about organic gardening and how to do it.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at

Top Ten Clean Energy Initiatives From Stanford originally appeared in Green Chip Stocks. Green Chip Review is a free 2x-per-week newsletter, is the first advisory to focus exclusively on investments in alternative and renewable energies.


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