Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.74
Liaison Moira Hafer
Submission Date June 28, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Stanford University
EN-3: Student Life

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
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Does the institution have one or more active student groups focused on sustainability?:

A brief description of active student groups focused on sustainability:

Stanford has more than 20 sustainability-focused student groups that address a wide range of sustainability topics across campus. The most established sustainability organization, Students for a Sustainable Stanford, has been working on campus for more than a decade and contains multiple sub-groups focused on environmental justice, food waste, sustainability in Stanford's General Use Permit, sustainability education, media, and waste.

Additional sustainability-focused student groups include Engineers for a Sustainable World, which is developing solar powered lighting solutions for the Philippines; Fossil Free Stanford, which is encouraging university leadership to divest from fossil fuels; and many others. Please see the website for a full list of sustainability-related student groups on campus.

The website URL where information about the student groups is available (optional):
Does the institution have gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects where students are able to gain experience in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems?:

A brief description of the gardens, farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) or fishery programs, and/or urban agriculture projects:

R&DE Stanford Dining has ten organic teaching gardens, and multiple dorms and coops have student-run gardens as well. Stanford Dining also has a greenhouse in one dining hall and hydroponic towers in another dining hall. Student garden managers plant and harvest produce that is used in the dining halls. They are managed by a full-time Farm to Table Coordinator as part of the Sustainable Food Program.

The R&DE Stanford Dining organic teaching gardens offer multiple work days a week in addition to workshops to teach students how to grow their own produce. The most recent organic teaching garden in Roble, the sustainability dorm, supports the academic theme of sustainability in the dorm. In addition, the Seed Library run by R&DE Stanford Dining gives students and the Stanford community free seeds each month that they can plant at home or in the gardens by their dorms.

In 2014, the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences established the 6 acre O'Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm. The farm is a living laboratory offering academic and experiential learning opportunities for the Stanford community and beyond. The farm utilizes agroecological relationships and natural diversity to grow over 200 varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs, field crops and fruit. Students come to the farm to test new ideas about the biological, social and environmental aspects of farming and gain experience in the practice of sustainable agriculture. On-farm research provides students hands-on learning opportunities. Over the course of a year, the farm harvests over 15,000 pounds of organically-grown produce, and R&DE has bought over 20,000 pounds of produce since the farm opened. Those crops feed into a new farm-to-campus program, with fresh vegetables featured at R&DE Stanford Dining in the dining halls, in campus cafes, and at the Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford.

Stanford hosts four produce CSAs and one fishery CSA. The R&DE Sustainable Food Program has created a list of on-campus and nearby CSAs and farmers markets and a corresponding map to make it easier for community members to find these CSAs and farmers markets.

In 2016-17, Stanford opened a weekly farmers market in front of Tressider Student Union.

The website URL where information about the gardens, farms or agriculture projects is available (optional):
Does the institution have student-run enterprises that include sustainability as part of their mission statements or stated purposes (e.g. cafés through which students gain sustainable business skills)?:

A brief description of the student-run enterprises:

Stanford Students Environmental Consulting (SSEC) is a group of dedicated, business- and environmentally-focused students at Stanford University that provide consulting services to help organizations address their most challenging environmental problems. In addition to finding answers to tough problems, they also aim to raise awareness for environmental issues and identify practical, sustainable opportunities for the business sector. Lastly, they aspire to foster learning and growth of their members, allowing them to develop and expand their professional skills related to, but certainly not limited to, business, finance, marketing, legal and environmental stewardship.

SSEC members have a diverse range of backgrounds, including engineering, management science, economics and public policy. Leveraging this diversity helps SSEC provide practical, multifaceted sustainable solutions to tough problems. They also connect to a strong community of advisors, including notable professors from the Stanford University research community, venture capitalists, and business school members. Past members of SSEC have gone on to work at top tier management consulting firms, environmental consulting firms, environmental NGOs, energy companies and investment banks.

The website URL where information about the student-run enterprises is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives through which students can develop socially, environmentally and fiscally responsible investment and financial skills?:

A brief description of the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives:

The Stanford Graduate School of Business Social Impact Fund provides MBA students with hands-on experience in generating a beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return. The program gives MBA students a hands-on experience with philanthropic “impact investing." Faculty, alumni, and expert practitioners provide strategic guidance to students on co-investing, sourcing, structuring deals, measuring impact, portfolio allocation, and exits. The fund is geographically flexible and invests in early-stage for-profit ventures in the following areas: (1) environment and energy; (2) health care and wellness; (3) education; (4) urban development; and (5) food and agriculture. Student investment managers gain: (1) hands-on experience in impact investing; (2) preparation for a future career in impact investing or as social entrepreneurs, understanding how investors work; (3) application of classroom knowledge to real-world impact investing; (4) a deeper understanding about issues in particular fields; and (5) a stronger network of alumni, social entrepreneurs, and investors focused on impact in industries of interest. Visit http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/organizations/invest/other-ways/centers-initiatives

Finally, from 2008-2015, the Stanford Student Green Fund provided grants for innovative student-driven projects designed to create a more sustainable campus. A total of $30,000 per academic year was available to fund projects. Projects were required to aim to reduce Stanford's ecological footprint, have a clearly defined, measurable outcome, incorporate publicity, education or outreach, and include direct student involvement. Projects funded in the 2013-2014 academic year included Graduate School of Business students designing a "Climate Act @ GSB" initiative, a Students for a Sustainable Stanford program piloting environmentally friendly cleaning practices in student residences, the purchase and installation of a water bottle filling station on campus, and several projects run by R&DE Student Housing interns.

The website URL where information about the sustainable investment funds, green revolving funds or sustainable microfinance initiatives is available (optional):
Does the institution have conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability:

Stanford hosts a vast array of conferences and events targeted at engaging students in sustainability. The Office of Sustainability organizes an annual "Celebrating Sustainability" event around Earth Day. Celebrating Sustainability was hosted in 2017 for the sixth year in a row as an interactive festival designed to educate members of the campus community about Stanford's sustainability achievements and opportunities for individual action through engaging activities and displays. In 2016, the event was connected with academic programming in the form of the Connecting the Dots symposium, a conference sponsored by the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy that is focused on sustainability across multiple topics, such as energy, water, and waste.

Another example is the Energy@Stanford & SLAC conference (https://energy.stanford.edu/energystanford-slac/energystanford-slac-2017), which is open to all interested incoming graduate students seeking to find out more about energy initiatives at Stanford. The Precourt Institute for Energy also hosts the Global Climate and Energy Project Symposium each fall to discuss energy research for deep global decarbonization (http://gcep.stanford.edu/events/symposium2016/index.html).

Stanford hosts many lecture series each quarter dealing with the environment, including topics such as energy, climate change, conservation biology, and a wide variety of other subjects. The student-governed Stanford Energy Club and Students for a Sustainable Stanford both maintain calendars of such events. The Stanford Energy Club also has a weekly newsletter that helps distribute this information to students, faculty, and staff (https://energyclub.stanford.edu/highlighted-events). These events are also featured in the Sustainable Stanford newsletter, the archives for which are available at http://sustainable.stanford.edu/be-cardinal-green/cardinal-green-newsletter.

Examples of sustainability lectures held at Stanford include the Stephen H. Schneider Memorial Lecture held each spring by Students for a Sustainable Stanford (SSS), which features leaders in the environmental field. Dr. John Holdren, Chief Science and Technology Advisor from 2009 to 2017 under President Obama, was the keynote speaker at the 2017 event, which was attended by over 500 students and community members. Additionally, in 2015 and 2016, SSS’s Environmental Justice Week connected environmental issues with the communities being impacted by climate change through a series of lectures, panels, discussion forums, and movie screenings.

In April 2017, SSS hosted the annual Earthfest celebration during Admit Weekend to showcase Stanford’s student sustainability initiatives for recently admitted students and their parents. An activities fair and live music attracted hundreds of attendees to the celebration, which featured several sustainability-focused student groups working in energy, carbon offsets, and reducing food waste.

In February 2017, SSS also aligned with the campus Recyclemania competition to host Zero Waste Week, a friendly competition encouraging students to avoid producing waste for one week. The group collected over 100 student pledges to reduce waste, using emails and prizes to increase participation. SSS co-hosted a midweek event with the Stanford Women’s Community Center entitled “Greening the Crimson Tide: A Talk on Eco-Menstruation.” The event entailed a lively discussion on options for zero-waste menstrual products. One of these options, menstrual cups, will now be sold at a discounted rate on campus through Stanford’s Sexual Health Peer Resource Center (SHPRC).

In October 2015, Students for a Sustainable Stanford organized the KNOW TOMORROW Rally for Climate Action, with performances by Stanford student groups and addresses by student sustainability leaders and keynote speaker Al Gore. Visit https://energy.stanford.edu/events/know-tomorrow-stanford-rally-climate-action for more information. Additionally, the 46th annual Stanford Pow Wow (http://powwow.stanford.edu/fun-run.html) in 2017 is themed "Water is Life." The event celebrates Native American culture and is being hosted as a Zero Waste event.

Graduate students are also encouraged to host events that focus on sustainability and many other topics through the Graduate Student Programming Board (GSPB). The GSPB provides graduate students with funding for peer education events of their choosing, and many choose to focus on sustainability. For instance, in March 2017, two graduate students hosted an event titled “Ask a Vegan” to help their peers learn about veganism and its benefits, and they provided vegan snacks from the local Veggie Grill. See https://calendar.google.com/calendar/render?eid=bmRva3FxMXNqbTg4MmR1dmVhaTZtYWR1ZWMgZ3NwYi5zdGFuZm9yZEBt&ctz=America/Los_Angeles&sf=true&output=xml#eventpage_6

Finally, the student group Engineers for a Sustainable World hosted Stanford’s first Repair Café in April 2016. Local “fixers” and students donated their time to help repair over 60 items, such as refrigerators, computers, bikes, and clothing. The Cafés have continued on a quarterly basis, and provide a space for students to learn and practice their engineering skills in a hands-on way, while promoting appliance repair and reuse rather than disposal. For more information, visit http://esw.stanford.edu/local/repair-cafe/

The website URL where information about the conferences, speaker series, symposia or similar events related to sustainability is available (optional):
Does the institution have cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability that have students as the intended audience?:

A brief description of the cultural arts events, installations or performances related to sustainability:

In 2015, the Associated Students of Stanford University launched Stories of Sustainability, an annual performance that raises awareness about climate change through diverse student performances. The event utilizes dance, song, spoken word, and short stories to encourage climate action through student research and activism and attracts over 300 students each year.

Additionally, one Stanford senior created the musical performance Stories of our Earth for his senior capstone project in 2015-16. Stories of our Earth was an evening of musical storytelling about climate change, crafted from interviews with Stanford community members. A four-piece ensemble of musicians performed the score, written to reflect the emotions and experiences within these true stories, which were performed live by two student actors.

Finally, the ongoing series Rooted Words is organized by Professor of the Practice Thomas Hayden and a small group of others in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. The group's goal is to create a community gathering place to bring poetry and prose back to earth science. One recent gathering of this group was held at the O'Donohue Family Farm, and participants were asked to share excerpts from their own writing with one another.

The website URL where information about the cultural arts events, installations or performances is available (optional):
Does the institution have wilderness or outdoors programs (e.g. that organize hiking, backpacking, kayaking, or other outings for students) that follow Leave No Trace principles?:

A brief description of the wilderness or outdoors programs that follow Leave No Trace principles:

Stanford Outdoor Education (SOE) is a member driven, student-operated, collaborative organization that advises outdoor education experiences for Recreation & Wellness, Student Activities and Leadership (SAL), Stanford School of Medicine, Residential Education, the Haas Center, and other formal SOE campus partners.

SOE's Adventure Program offers exciting outdoor trips, courses and clinics each quarter and over intersession breaks. The Adventure Program is subsidized by the Stanford Outdoors (SO) student group, providing student members the opportunity to participate in outdoor experiences at the lowest possible cost. All outdoor trips organized by the Adventure Program follow Leave No Trace Principles. A listing of trips and clinics offered by the Adventure Program can be found here: https://adventure.stanford.edu/trips/

SOE also operates the Outdoor Center, which is home to a full-service rental and retail facility, a lounge, an outdoor resource library, a trip planning area, a multimedia classroom and one of the largest collegiate climbing walls in the country. Resources regarding Leave No Trace principles are available here. The lounge of the Outdoor Center serves as a central meeting space for Stanford community members who are interested in outdoor adventures.

Finally, SOE also offers the Stanford Outdoor Outreach Program (SOOP) and an annual student-led pre-orientation backpacking trip (SPOT) for incoming freshmen, both of which are also required to follow Leave No Trace principles.

The website URL where information about the wilderness or outdoors programs is available (optional):
Does the institution have sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences (e.g. choosing a sustainability-related book for common reading)?:

A brief description of the sustainability-related themes chosen for themed semesters, years, or first-year experiences:

Each year, Stanford runs Three Books, which is a summer reading program for incoming freshmen designed to foster intellectual excitement and provide a foundation for discussion upon arrival on campus. At least one of the books is typically sustainability-themed. In fact, in 2017, the Three Books program was led by Noah Diffenbaugh, a faculty member in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. The books chosen by Diffenbaugh all had sustainability themes pertinent to social, economic and environmental sustainability, the most notable of which was "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert. The other two books chosen were "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi and "Salvage the Bones" by Jesmyn Ward. Previously, the Three Books program has also included "Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines" by Richard A. Muller, which focuses on the science and politics of sustainability issues, especially related to global warming and alternative energy.

Additionally, the Stanford Outdoor Education program leads Stanford Pre-Orientation Trips (SPOT) for incoming freshmen before they arrive at Stanford. These trips are designed to be immersive experiences that ease the transition to life at Stanford and foster Stanford identity, community, and personal growth through activity, self-reflection and mentorship in outdoor and wilderness environments. More information on the wilderness trips is available at http://outdoored.stanford.edu/spot/wilderness/.

The website URL where information about the sustainability-related themes is available (optional):
Does the institution have programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills?:

A brief description of the programs through which students can learn sustainable life skills:

The Office of Sustainability piloted an individual action network for the campus branded “My Cardinal Green” in summer 2016, and the full program was launched in April 2017. My Cardinal Green empowers students to engage with sustainability regularly, while tailoring specific actions for targeted groups (ex. year, dorm type, department). In creating a platform that the individual can engage with year-round, sustainability and the specific actions that one can take to contribute to the effort become standard operating procedure, rather than one-time asks. Engagement in the platform entails taking a 15 minute survey about campus lifestyles and current sustainability behaviors in order to inform the personalized recommendations made available through the platform. Individuals earn points by taking sustainability actions, and they earn incentives once they accrue enough points. Recommendations span a wide range of difficulty, from “take a first step” actions, such as “Learn how to properly dispose of 5 new materials” to more advanced actions such as “Establish a home composting program.”

The Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford, created in partnership with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, teaches students cooking skills, including cooking plant-forward recipes, while also teaching them about sustainability. Visit https://rde.stanford.edu/dining/teaching-kitchen

The R&DE Stanford Dining organic gardens offer multiple work days a week in addition to workshops to teach students how to grow their own produce. In addition, the Seed Library run by R&DE Stanford Dining gives students free seeds each month that they can plant at home or in the gardens by their dorms. Visit https://rde.stanford.edu/dining/organic-gardens

Stanford offers a number of seasonal campaigns directed at students that encourage students to pledge to take a simple sustainability action. The actions are related to each campaign's theme. For instance, the Cardinal Green Buildings campaign is offered in the fall and encourages students to unplug their appliances when they leave for Winter Break in conjunction with its energy conservation theme. In the winter, students are asked to pledge to sort their waste properly in conjunction with the Recyclemania campaign, and in the spring, students have the opportunity to learn about water conservation and systems on campus. In 2016, the spring Water Wise campaign was themed "Take the Shorter Shower Challenge," encouraging students to take showers that are five minutes or less. Finally, students are very involved in Give & Go, where they are encouraged to correctly sort their waste and donate reusable items as they move out at the end of the year. These are all sustainable life skills that students are made aware of through the Sustainable Stanford campaign series.

The website URL where information about the sustainable life skills programs is available (optional):
Does the institution offer sustainability-focused student employment opportunities?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused student employment opportunities offered by the institution:

The Sustainable Stanford Internship Program (managed by the Office of Sustainability in partnership with sustainability staff and organizations across campus) provides 35+ paid opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience implementing programs that influence on-campus sustainability. Sustainable Stanford Interns work on projects covering various campus sustainability topics (waste, water, housing, food), under supervision and direction from campus sustainability staff. Each intern commits to an academic year-long program working to manage a campus sustainability project and bring about tangible results. In addition to gaining experience in sustainability project design and implementation, interns learn about the variety of careers in sustainability across campus and develop a network of cohorts through program orientation and final presentations.

Additionally, one of the tenants of the new Cardinal Service initiative offered by the Haas Center is Cardinal Careers, an effort to help students discover career paths in public service and sustainability. Specifically, Stanford's Haas Center for Public Service offers the Community Work-Study Program, which provides an opportunity for students to develop and participate in a significant service experience while earning a portion of their financial aid award. This program is available during the academic year and the summer. It provides the freedom for eligible students to design a service experience in collaboration with a partnering organization. Placements during the academic year are typically on campus and in the local community while summer placements can be at qualified organizations anywhere in the United States.

The Haas Center also runs the Undergraduate Fellowship Program, which offers resources for Stanford undergraduates who wish to make contributions to public service organizations and communities. Depending on the fellowship, fellows can participate in either prearranged placements or self-designed fellowship opportunities in both domestic and international settings. The Haas Center offers grants to undergraduate students interested in this type of service experience, in addition to operating several other grant programs to help cultivate students' passion for service.

The TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy also has two summer internship programs for students. The objectives of the summer internships are for students to gain work experience, develop applied engineering knowledge, learn entrepreneurship in a startup environment, and build upon their academic studies. Descriptions of the two programs are below:

1) TomKat Center-supported Internships: The TomKat Center offers a limited number of paid summer internships to Stanford undergraduate students at exciting Stanford-affiliated sustainable energy startup companies.

2) Industry-supported Energy Internships: The TomKat Center works with several exciting sustainable energy startup companies to help recruit talented Stanford undergraduate and masters students for paid summer internship positions.

A list of the internship positions available to students through these programs can be found here: https://tomkat.stanford.edu/internship-positions. More information on the programs can be found here: https://tomkat.stanford.edu/education/energystartup-summer-internships.

The website URL where information about the student employment opportunities is available:
Does the institution have graduation pledges through which students pledge to consider social and environmental responsibility in future job and other decisions?:

A brief description of the graduation pledges:

Students for a Sustainable Stanford has administered a graduation pledge in the past but has not done so in the last three years. The pledge read as follows:

I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider, and I will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work.

Graduating students were able to take the pledge online and those who pledged wore a green ribbon on their graduation robes.

The website URL where information about the graduation pledges is available (optional):

Does the institution have other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives?:

A brief description of the other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives:

In 2015-2016, funding to support sustainability events and dialog was offered through Stanford’s OpenXChange, a year-long, campus-wide effort to strengthen and unify Stanford through purposeful engagement around issues of national and global concern. Through this program, students, staff, and faculty received grants to support sustainability events, courses, and fieldtrips. Visit https://openxchange.stanford.edu/.

In 2016, the launch of the Knight-Hennessy scholars program was announced, which is a graduate-level scholarship program to prepare a new generation of global leaders with the skills to address the increasingly complex challenges facing the world. The inaugural class of scholars will begin at Stanford in fall 2018. Ambitious in scope and scale, Knight-Hennessy Scholars will annually admit 100 high-achieving students with demonstrated leadership and civic commitment, who are nominated by their undergraduate universities. The goal is to select students from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities. Upon admittance to Stanford's graduate programs, scholars will receive funding for three years to pursue master's or doctorate level degrees, or professional programs along with education in leadership, innovation and other curricula designed to develop scholars' capacity to lead ambitious change in a complex world. The program is named for alumnus Philip H. Knight, MBA '62, philanthropist, American businessman and co-founder of Nike Inc., who is contributing $400 million, and Stanford's outgoing 10th President John L. Hennessy. For more information, visit https://knight-hennessy.stanford.edu/


Mel Lane Student Program Grants are provided to student-driven and managed environmental projects that make a measurable impact on an issue through action or applied research. Preference is given to projects that focus on environmental sustainability within one of the following topic areas: built environment, climate, food security and supply, natural capital, ocean and coasts, public health, sustainable development and water. In addition, projects should involve Stanford students and provide an educational experience for students and the broader community. Proposals are accepted twice a year during fall and winter terms. The institute has an annual budget of $10,000 to support projects. For more information, visit https://woods.stanford.edu/mel-lane-program.php

The Tomkat Center’s Innovation Transfer Program helps Stanford inventors of sustainable energy technology bridge the gap between research and commercialization. Grants are awarded to develop prototypes, to refine business plans, and to conduct customer trials and market research. The teams, which mostly comprise Stanford students, must have a Stanford facuty advisor to compete for a grant. The program assigns an industry mentor to each funded project for ongoing guidance as the teams assess market opportunities, plan the commercialization of their inventions, and prepare to launch startup companies. The program helps participants develop a business-centric approach through Stanford resources, like the Stanford Entrepreneurship Network. The program also connects teams with relevant entrepreneurs, executives with experience in startups and venture investors. For more information, visit https://tomkat.stanford.edu/innovation-transfer

The website URL where information about other co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives is available (optional):

Estimated percentage of students (full-time and part-time) that participate annually in sustainability-focused co-curricular education and outreach programs (0-100):

Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.