Stanford University, CA Green Dorm

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Stanford University, CA, US

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Type: Program

Status: Initiated in 2003

Source File:


Plans are underway for a new "Green Dorm" that will serve as a student residence and "living laboratory" of sustainable practices. Goals for the project include a research facility for innovative building systems, design and construction processes and emerging technologies, hands-on learning opportunities, and the most desirable and resource-efficient student residence at Stanford.

Environmental Performance

Zero Carbon Building
Goal: Zero net carbon emissions due to operational and embodied energy use over the course of a year

Through effective design of the building envelope, selection of water and lighting fixtures, and smart use by residents, energy consumption should be 20% below the current best-performing row house on campus. Heat delivery and on-site energy production will engage a combination of traditional (ex. radiant heating) and experimental (ex. shower water heat recovery) systems to provide thermal comfort and power efficiency. A Zero Carbon building - one that produces enough energy to offset its greenhouse gas impacts - is achievable through an integration of simple, cost-effective energy saving strategies and innovative energy generation technologies.


  • Summer comfort without air conditioning
  • Passive solar strategies for winter heating
  • 100% daylit interior integrated with electric lighting controls
  • Radiant heat and natural ventilation for exceptional thermal comfort
  • Super-efficient windows and envelope on residential floors


  • 20% less electricity and natural gas use than the current best row house
  • On site generation of electricity to offset 100% of carbon impacts of energy consumption


  • 46 KW photovoltaic array
  • 475 SF solar hot water array
  • Shower water heat recovery
  • Water-source heat pump
  • Radiant floor slab heat delivery
  • Potential fuel cell or other "combined heat and power" device

Closing the Water Cycle
Goal: Reduce water use, capture rainwater, and recycle water within the building to ultimately eliminate the import of potable water and the export of wastewater

As techniques and monitored results improve over time, bolder sources and uses of recycled water will be incorporated, pending approval by local jurisdictions.

  • Reduce water use
  • Low-flow bathroom fixtures
  • Non-potable irrigation water
  • Efficient kitchen facilities design
  • Capture rainwater
  • 5,500 gallon underground storage tank
  • Filter and use for toilets, irrigation, and laundry
  • Test and monitor for future potable use
  • Greywater recycling
  • Treat and use for toilets, irrigation, and laundry
  • Test and monitor for future potable use
  • Blackwater recycling
  • In-situ application of faculty research projects
  • Long-term monitoring of treatment samples

Material Resources
Goal: Cut the embodied energy of building materials in half while reducing earthquake losses through high-performance structural design

A high-performance steel structure will ensure that the building will not end up in a landfill when the next big earthquake strikes. Low-cement concrete will complement other low-embodied energy, salvaged, or renewable materials in improving the project's impact on climate and ecosystems. Research in sensing, materials, and structural systems will be integrated into the design to provide a testing ground for ongoing research within the structural engineering department.

  • Life cycle cost analysis and Structural System Matrix used to analyze and select structural systems
  • Self-centering "rocking steel frame" limits earthquake damage losses, reducing long-term landfill, CO2, and monetary costs
  • Industrial waste products such as fly ash or slag to replace over 50% of energy-intensive cement use in concrete mixes
  • Faculty-led seismic and material research integrated into system selection process and design
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