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Stanford University's Central Energy Facility

Affiliated Engineers, ZGF Architects

Shared By

August King


Stanford University


  • Joe Collins
  • Bijendra Sewak


  • General Contractor: Whiting-Turner
  • Civil Engineer: BKF

Project Status



142,100 sq. feet

Construction Cost

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Project Description


Sited on the western edge of the campus, Stanford’s Central Energy Facility building leverages innovative functionality in an engagingly legible utilitarian structure to express the vision and values of the university. Transparent, integrated spaces center on massive thermal tanks. Shaded by a photovoltaic trellis, the campus-facing facade displays vibrant high-performance engineered systems to a community committed to sustainability. It is the most prominent visual component of the Stanford Energy Systems Innovations engineering project (SESI), cumulatively projected to be 70% more efficient than Stanford’s previous energy production and distribution system, reducing carbon emissions by 50% and potable water use by 18%.

With forthright vernacular materials and palette, the building itself is an exercise in engagingly legible functionality. Indoor and outdoor spaces are physically and visually integrated, with outdoor circulation and courtyard spaces centered on the massive thermal tanks (one painted “Stanford cardinal”). The campus-facing main entrance is shaded by solar panel frames that extend along an east facade glazed to display the vividly painted boilers and chillers, intriguing and informative to a community devoted to sustainable planning and living.
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