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September 10, 2008

Stanford committed to energy-efficient buildings, Hennessy says

As Stanford moves forward with large-scale construction projects across campus, energy efficiency will be planned into the buildings at every step, university President John Hennessy said Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference on sustainable buildings, Hennessy pointed out that while the public may think of energy efficiency in terms of gas-saving small cars, buildings are actually the big kids on the block when it comes to energy consumption. In the United States, more energy is used to heat, cool and light buildings than is consumed by cars, trucks and airplanes combined.

Inefficient buildings increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil and contribute to global warming, he said.

Hennessy spoke at "Meeting the Demand for Sustainable Buildings," a roundtable co-sponsored by Stanford's Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE) and the University of California-Berkeley's Fisher Information Technology Center at the Haas School of Business and College of Environmental Design.

Over the next five or six years, Stanford will spend $250 million to $300 million per year on buildings, Hennessy said. The energy efficiency of those buildings will go well beyond the minimum requirements.

A number of older buildings on campus—the energy hogs—have undergone energy retrofits. In seven of the 10 buildings, the retrofits reduced energy use so drastically that the projects paid for themselves in two years.

Hennessy championed the construction of buildings without air conditioning, at least on the Stanford campus, where the weather is usually temperate in the daytime and cool at night.

He said there have been casual suggestions that Stanford generate some green energy of its own by planting windmills on the ridge in the Dish area—an idea that would surely draw complaints of machines blighting the view of the hills. "We're going to have to begin making these hard trade-offs," he said.


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