Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 88.00
Liaison Melissa Maigler
Submission Date Feb. 22, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Stanford University
OP-22: Water Use

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 6.00 / 6.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Level of ”Physical Risk QUANTITY” for the institution’s main campus as indicated by the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas:

Total water use (potable and non-potable combined):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water use 920,714,383 Gallons 1,325,797,088 Gallons

Potable water use:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use 531,391,874 Gallons 954,678,384 Gallons

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year Jan. 1, 2018 Dec. 31, 2018
Baseline Year July 1, 1999 June 30, 2000

A brief description of when and why the water use baseline was adopted:

The formal water conservation program at Stanford was founded in 2001; the Water Year prior (WY2000) was selected as the baseline to represent pre-conservation water use levels. This baseline is used internally and externally to show the campus’ progress in water conservation over the lifetime of the program.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users":
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 11,367 9,363
Number of employees resident on-site 1,768 1,768
Number of other individuals resident on-site and/or staffed hospital beds 0 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 16,517 12,151
Full-time equivalent of employees (staff + faculty) 15,620 8,012
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 27,386.50 17,905

Potable water use per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per weighted campus user 19,403.42 Gallons 53,319.09 Gallons

Percentage reduction in potable water use per weighted campus user from baseline:

Gross floor area of building space:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Gross floor area 15,476,723 Gross Square Feet 12,386,396 Gross Square Feet

Potable water use per unit of floor area:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per unit of floor area 34.33 Gallons / GSF 77.07 Gallons / GSF

Percentage reduction in potable water use per unit of floor area from baseline:

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 3 of this credit? (reductions in total water use per acre/hectare of vegetated grounds):

Area of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Vegetated grounds 7,016 Acres 6,998 Acres

Total water use (potable + non-potable) per unit of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water use per unit of vegetated grounds 131,230.67 Gallons / Acre 189,453.71 Gallons / Acre

Percentage reduction in total water use per unit of vegetated grounds from baseline:

A brief description of the institution's water-related behavior change initiatives, e.g. initiatives to shift individual attitudes and practices such as signage and competitions:

Offered by the Office of Sustainability, My Cardinal Green provides personalized recommendations of actions that individuals can perform to help them act more environmentally sustainable. Because each person has a unique lifestyle and role on campus, the program begins with an initial survey to generate suggested actions that are most relevant for them. Each suggested action includes details to help users complete the action and connect them to the plethora of programs and resources available to the Stanford community. Users receive points for each action that they successfully complete and, after earning a certain amount of points, can receive a reward for their efforts. Real-time metrics showcase the impact their involvement has, both at the individual and collective level. Users can view the calculated resource and subsequent cost savings of each suggested action in their list, and track the cumulative impact of My Cardinal Green participants on a personal dashboard where participants record their progress. The platform features flexible content and messaging, as well as actions and results metrics, that can be promoted to specific groups on campus. A Stanford Report article describing the My Cardinal Green Program is available here: http://news.stanford.edu/2017/05/05/stanford-launches-cardinal-green-rewards-program-students-faculty-staff/

Water-related actions are promoted particularly among students and faculty living within Faculty/Staff Housing. “Take a First Step” actions encourage those who are just embarking on their sustainability journey to get involved in small ways, like “turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth," with the idea that small steps to get started might lead to greater results in the long run. From there, users are prompted to take a next step with actions such as "shorten your shower to five minutes," or "get an irrigation audit." In creating a personal experience that connects users to the broader community, the program helps to establish social norms that drive a shift in not only attitudes, but behaviors as well.

Stanford Utilities has also offered classes to residents on Alternatives to Lawn, Landscape Installation and Maintenance, Converting Spray Irrigation to Drip, and How to Design Native Gardens (in partnership with the Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency (BAWSCA)), as well as supporting BAWSCA’s landscape classes throughout the spring and summer. Stanford Utilities sent out monthly bill inserts to single-family residents with messaging and information on programs geared towards water conservation and efficiency. Monthly “Report Cards” were sent to facility managers with information on their groups’ water use compared to a baseline of 2013 water use – with details on high usage areas.

An annual campus-wide campaign also highlights individual water conservation opportunities each year. In 2018, the campus-wide campaign highlighted ‘Conservation as a Way of Life,” and produced a video to educate the campus community about water supply and quality, encouraging responsible water use no matter if the state is in drought or not. Throughout the campaign, water efficiency information is included in various monthly newsletters, as well as advertisements in the daily campus-wide newspaper. The university also regularly participates in the National “Fix a Leak Week” effort, and kicks off its annual campaign with an Earth Day service opportunity, where volunteers support native planting activities across campus.

In 2018, Stanford Utilities celebrated the Water Professional Appreciation Week. This was an opportunity to educate the community about the water systems on campus and to publish the stormwater facility tour. The stormwater facility tour uses the online platform “showmediscovery.com” to guide viewers through nine sites across campus to learn how Stanford is managing its stormwater to improve flood protection, protect runoff water quality, replenish groundwater, and beautify the urban landscape. The tour uses photos, graphs, and maps to demonstrate the technology and materials that are around campus so viewers can understand the stormwater infrastructure on campus. Starting in 2018, the Sand Hill Fields site began capturing stormwater and pumping it into the non-potable water system to be used for campus irrigation.

A brief description of the institution's water recovery and reuse initiatives:

Stanford's cogeneration plant ran water through cooling towers for approximately 18 cycles. However, Stanford's cogeneration plant was decommissioned and replaced with a heat recovery system in April 2015, called Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI). Because the new energy system recovers heat from the chilled water loop, the need for evaporative cooling towers is reduced. SESI was predicted to reduce total campus potable water consumption by 15%, which has been realized.

Cooling tower blowdown at the Central Energy Facility (cogeneration plant) provided water for toilet and urinal flushing in the Science and Engineering Quad and Graduate School of Business, as well as several School of Medicine buildings through March 2015.

Over 85% of Stanford's irrigation water comes from non-potable irrigation (lake) water collected in two campus reservoirs. Landscaped areas are irrigated via the university's lake water system which allows Stanford to preserve potable water mainly for use in research, academic, and academic support facilities. Non-Potable water is sourced from local surface water diversions, construction dewatering, stormwater capture, and supplemental wells.

Starting in 2018, Stanford began pumping construction dewatering water into the non-potable water system to be used for campus irrigation. In calendar year 2018, the system recovered 112,195,941 gallons of water!

Reverse osmosis (RO) wastewater is captured and reused for quenching (reducing the temperature) of the 180F wastewater from washing equipment. RO reuse is expected to save around 180,000 gallons/year.

The Codiga Resource Recovery Center (CR2C) is a newly completed facility built to aid in research on wastewater treatment and resource recovery. For more information: http://web.stanford.edu/group/cr2c/

A brief description of the institution's initiatives to replace plumbing fixtures, fittings, appliances, equipment, and systems with water-efficient alternatives (e.g. building retrofits):

Over the past 15 years, Stanford has replaced more than 13,000 academic and student housing bathroom fixtures with water-efficient models, including low-flow showerheads, sink aerators, high-efficiency toilets and urinals. Almost 90% of the academic and student housing inefficient toilets have been retrofitted.

Some specific projects to replace appliances and equipment include:
(1) Stanford Utilities partnered with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to provide almost 200 rebates to Faculty/Staff residents for installing high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, and over 170 water wise house call inspections (performed by either SCVWD or Stanford Utilities) since 2011.
(2) 66 water misers (devices that monitor the temperature of steam condensate discharging to the sewer and apply cold water for quenching only when needed, as opposed to a continuous flow of water) have been installed on campus autoclaves and steam sterilizers.
(3) All once-through cooling for equipment has been replaced with re-circulating systems.
(4) Single-pass water seal vacuum pumps at the School of Medicine, Herrin, and Mudd Chemistry labs were replaced with new efficient equipment.
(5) Residential & Dining Enterprises has installed 10 extra low-flow (0.5 gpm) showerheads across 3 different dorms and are collecting usage data and feedback from individuals in those dorms who choose to use those showers.
(6) In 2017, the Cardinal Green Labs program began offering free low-flow aerator installations for labs.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Stanford’s Water Resources and Civil Infrastructure (WRCI) group proactively manages available resources in multiple water systems to meet university needs while preserving ecological systems and vital resources for future generations. During the extended drought that officially ended in 2017, the university expanded its sustainable water practices and conservation efforts. An increase in water use is common, though, after a severe drought ends and behavioral conservation patterns relax. In 2017, potable water use increased by 8%, and non-potable water use increased by 21% from the previous year, which is consistent with state-wide trends. Because local rainfall and statewide snow pack have remained below average, however, interest in conservation on campus continues to be high, and all major campus water customers have achieved significant reductions in water consumption compared to a pre-drought baseline of 2013.

The Faculty/Staff Housing area on Stanford's Campus is excluded from the overarching STARS boundary since Stanford does not have operational control over these residences, and they receive electric and gas utilities separate from Stanford's utility systems. However, the 707 single-family homes in this area of the campus are served by Stanford’s water utility, so the number of residents in this area has been included in this credit. The number of single family homes in this area has not changed significantly since 2000, so the same estimate was used for both the performance year and the baseline year and has been included in the "number of employees resident on-site" credit field. This and the Waste Minimization and Diversion credit are the only two credits in which Stanford includes any employees resident on-site.

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.