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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 74.63
Liaison Moira Hafer
Submission Date July 30, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Stanford University
OP-26: Water Use

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.83 / 5.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Level of water risk for the institution’s main campus:

Total water use (potable and non-potable combined)::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water use 1,229,516,772 Gallons 1,325,797,088 Gallons

Potable water use::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use 784,135,880 Gallons 954,678,384 Gallons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users"::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 11,147 9,363
Number of residential employees 0 0
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 15,606 12,151
Full-time equivalent of employees 12,297 8,012
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 0 0

Gross floor area of building space::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Gross floor area 14,562,639 Square Feet 12,386,396 Square Feet

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

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2012 June 30, 2013
Baseline Year July 1, 1999 June 30, 2000

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

The water use baseline of 2000 aligns well with the inception of the formal water conservation program at Stanford and therefore makes the most sense as a baseline against which water savings should be measured. It is the year the campus refers to for all water-based comparisons reported internally and externally.

Water recycled/reused on campus, performance year:
1,886,695 Gallons

Recycled/reused water withdrawn from off-campus sources, performance year:
0 Gallons

A brief description of any water recovery and reuse systems employed by the institution:

The service area for Stanford's reclaimed-water facility is now more than 1 million GSF. Cooling tower blowdown at the Central Energy Facility provides 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.

Approximately 85% of Stanford's irrigation water comes from
nonpotable lake water collected in two campus
reservoirs. Landscaped areas are irrigated via the university's lake water system and allows Stanford to preserve potable water for domestic, research, academic, and academic support facility use.

Stanford's Central Energy Facility runs water through cooling towers for approximately 18 cycles.

Existing reverse osmosis (RO) wastewater is being reused for quenching (reducing the temperature) of the 180F wastewater from new cage washing equipment. Water savings from RO reuse is estimated around 180,000 gallons/year.

A brief description of any water metering and management systems employed by the institution:

All buildings on Stanford's campus are individually metered for water consumption. In addition, most buildings have a separate outdoor irrigation meter. This information has provided the necessary level of detail to enable Stanford to reduce domestic water consumption significantly since 2000, despite campus growth.

A brief description of any building retrofit practices employed by the institution, e.g. to install high efficiency plumbing fixtures and fittings:

Stanford has replaced more than 12,000 academic and student housing bathroom fixtures with water-efficient fixtures, including low-flow showerheads, sink aerators, high efficiency toilets and urinals. Almost 90% of the academic and student housing inefficient toilets have been retrofitted.

A brief description of any policies or programs employed by the institution to replace appliances, equipment and systems with water-efficient alternatives:

(1) Since May 2008, Stanford Utilities Services has provided 363 rebates to Faculty/Staff for installing residents’ high efficiency toilets or clothes washers and over 95 water wise house call inspections.
(2) 77 water misers (devices that monitor the steam condensate temperature and apply cold water only when needed as opposed to continuous flow) have been installed on campus autoclaves and steam sterilizers.
(3) All once-through cooling for equipment has been replaced with re-circulating systems.
(4) Replaced single pass water seal vacuum pumps at the School of Medicine, Herrin and Mudd Chemistry labs with new efficient equipment.

A brief description of any water-efficient landscape design practices employed by the institution (e.g. xeriscaping):

Stanford’s landscape design guidelines encourage selecting drought-resistant plants and discourage planting water-intensive turf lawns unless absolutely necessary. As part of Stanford’s Water Conservation Master Plan, selected water-intensive landscape areas were retrofitted with lower water-use plant materials. A Water Wise Garden serves as an educational model for the entire campus community regarding native and drought-tolerant plants (http://bgm.stanford.edu/groups/grounds/special/waterwise). In addition, the majority of campus irrigation occurs at night to minimize evaporation loss.

A brief description of any weather-informed irrigation technologies employed by the institution:

Stanford uses a Maxicom central control system throughout most irrigated landscape areas on campus. Based on evapotranspiration and weather station data, computers at the Grounds Department calculate sprinkler run times and communicate irrigation schedules to field controllers which automatically run the sprinklers.

A brief description of other water conservation and efficiency strategies employed by the institution:

(1) From 2011 to present, Stanford Utilities Services has installed >30 real time water monitoring devices on existing meters and implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to ensure new landscaping and buildings are working efficiently. Real time monitoring has also improved responsiveness to leaks and reduced the amount of time that leaks go unnoticed.
(2) Stanford created a demonstration program to test new water efficient equipment and fixtures for campus-wide applications for new and existing facilities.

The website URL where information about the institution’s water conservation and efficiency initiatives is available:

(1) Gallons consumed represents total water use and includes both domestic and lake water (non-potable) as reported in the Sustainable Stanford Year in Review Metrics & Trends section:

(2) The area of so-called "vegetated grounds" in acres has not changed substantially since 2000. Stanford's lands are vast (8180 acres) and the building footprint / hardscape (approximately 1182 acres) has not varied significantly. Negligible changes to the vegetated grounds are further confirmed through Stanford's General Use Permit and the accompanying Sustainable Development Study.
Please see the following links for more details:

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.