Stanford University recently completed a game-changing, campus-wide energy system—Stanford Energy System Innovation (SESI)—which replaces an aging, 100% fossil-fuel-based, co-generation plant with grid-sourced electricity and a first-of-its-kind heat recovery system. The results are impressive: The system slashes greenhouse gas emissions by 68%, reduces fossil fuel use by 65%, and decreases water use—campus-wide—by 15%.
At the heart of the system is the ZGF-designed, 125,600 SF Central Energy Facility, which sets an architectural tone of lightness, transparency and sustainability where performance and beauty co-exist. The design of this new power plant sensitively integrates with the surrounding Stanford campus. The Central Energy Facility’s materiality takes its cues from Stanford’s rich collection of historical and contemporary buildings. Stanford’s classic limestone buildings are represented by integrally-colored, board-formed concrete, while weathered CorTen steel accents suggest the terra-cotta tile roofs. Extensive glazing, dark steel columns and polished aluminum establish a contemporary vernacular, while reclaimed wood soffits in the arcades add warmth.
Upon completion of the Stanford Solar Generation Station, which will work in conjunction with SESI and is developed in a partnership with SunPower, the University will be powered by 65% clean electricity. The comprehensive system will eliminate 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 32,000 cars from the road every year. It will save the University an estimated $459 million over a 35-year period. This positions Stanford as a national leader in energy efficiency and carbon reduction—not only among colleges and universities, but for government agencies, utility companies, corporate campuses and healthcare institutions as well.