December 3, 2018

Advancing sustainability at Stanford

You may have seen our announcement today that we are building a new solar plant to power our campus and reduce Stanford’s carbon footprint.

This new plant, combined with our existing solar generating systems, will allow the university to complete its transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2021. It will enable Stanford to achieve an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions—a goal set under the long-range vision—four years ahead of schedule. It also puts us on track to being carbon-free by 2030.

This exciting development is the latest in an ambitious, decade-long project to reconfigure Stanford’s energy systems, which has included instituting high-efficiency standards for new buildings, making efficiency improvements in existing buildings, and constructing our first solar power plant, which came online in 2016, followed by on-campus rooftop power in 2017.

I am proud of Stanford’s leadership in converting to clean energy and improving our energy efficiency. Faculty, staff and students across the university have worked hard to reduce our carbon footprint, preserve resources and practice environmental sustainability. Completing our transition to clean power is a result of their efforts and persistence.

Reducing Stanford’s own environmental impact is an essential first step. But cost-effective decarbonization, affordable access to energy and infrastructure resilience are complex global challenges. That is why our long-range vision established an initiative to accelerate sustainable solutions for our region, nation and world. It is our goal not only to improve sustainability practices here at Stanford, but to lead the research and teaching that will help create a healthier environment for generations to come. Both as an engine to spark knowledge and as a testbed for new ideas, Stanford has an important role to play in advancing sustainability solutions for the betterment of our world.

Stanford also plays a role as a convener of experts from diverse sectors and disciplines to work together toward solutions to these challenges. Last month, I attended the inaugural Stanford Global Energy Forum, a gathering of policymakers, technology entrepreneurs, scientists and other global thought leaders to discuss the forces shaping the global energy system and the implications of these changes on economic growth, national security and the environment. The diverse voices and robust dialogue at the forum gave me great hope about our ability to engage with one another across sectors and disciplines to innovate, experiment with new ideas and find solutions to these challenges.

By both reducing our own environmental impact and advancing sustainable solutions through teaching and research, we can play a role in solving these challenges for the 21st century. With Stanford’s spirit of optimism and track record of innovative solutions, I am confident that we can help advance solutions for the benefit of millions around the world.

For more information on Stanford’s sustainability efforts, visit