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The Sustainable Farm

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By Kevin Cool

All the campus activity promoting awareness and improving practices was well and good, but until recently nobody was truly in charge of making Stanford a more sustainable operation. That changed in November when Stanford hired a sustainability czar.

Joe Stagner, who played a similar role at UC-Davis, heads a new department of sustainability and energy management that will develop a campuswide environmental plan.

One priority is to reduce Stanford's greenhouse gas emissions. By spring Stagner hopes to give President John Hennessy and the Board of Trustees an analysis of campus energy needs and supply options to help them set a reduction target.

About 89 percent of Stanford's greenhouse gas emissions come from the Cardinal Cogeneration Plant, which uses natural gas to produce almost all the energy used on the Farm. The contract governing the plant's operation expires in 2015, Stagner notes, "and that facility as well as other major parts of the Central Energy Facility will be near the end of their useful life at that time. This may represent a significant opportunity to transform the campus to a more sustainable long-term energy supply, and we must take advantage of this by thoroughly investigating all options."

Among the ideas they expect to explore: carbon offsets and carbon sequestration; "green" electricity sources such as wind, solar photovoltaic, biomass, geothermal, ocean current and tidal power; as well as energy alternatives such as solar hot water heating, solar steam production, and geothermal heating and cooling.

As Stanford grows, Stagner adds, minimizing the carbon footprint, traffic volume and water use created by new facilities will be "a key ingredient" of any strategy going forward.

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