Soaking Season 2017

The end of term is fast approaching, but between now and summer exams and for our fourth year and leaver students the annual tradition of soakings awaits. The final tradition of a St Andrews University student after they had completed their final exam or handed in their piece of coursework is their soaking – an event where all the students’ close friends coming to together and meet them to shower them with water. For all our students this is a very proud, special and invigorating moment and provides a great way to end their university career. This tradition is iconic to St Andrews and reflects the close and supportive community atmosphere that the university has within the student body.

This soaking season we kindly ask all our students to help protect our beautiful environment by only using water at soakings. Popular additions at soakings over the years have been glitter, dyes and foods, however we ask that students do not use these substances as it not only affects our local environment and ecosystems but also creates eyesores within St Andrews. Glitter is a very popular addition to many soakings, however it can have harmful side effects on our environment and can be fatal to small organisms if ingested. Glitter is made from non-biodegradable materials and has no recycling recovery potential, and will leave a mark on St Andrews even after you have graduated! We kindly ask you to respect the rules laid out by the University as they are not only made for your personal safety but the protection of our beloved town and its surroundings.

We wish everyone the best of luck in your exams, and have a safe and enjoyable soaking season!

 

Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews

On the 24th and 25th of April Go St Andrews held its launch event and tour of St Andrews University’s campus. Go St Andrews is a new hub for sustainable transport information in and around St Andrews. This initiative is a collaboration between Fife Council, Transport Scotland, Transition University of St Andrews, BID St Andrews, and partners. The website aims to deliver clear and concise information on all the sustainable transport options in and around St Andrews, aiming to build up a community of people who choose to take modes of transport that will decrease their carbon footprint.

On the 24th April representatives from Sustrans, Cycle Solutions, Cycling UK Scotland, Chariots of Hire, Cyclepath, E-Car, Liftshare, St Andrews Park Run, Transition University of St Andrews, St Andrews Space for Cycling and Cycle Fife came to Market Street to increase awareness of the different resources available to them across the town and gown. Due to high winds we had to shut up earlier than expected, however we were pleased by the encouraging amount of people who came to ask questions and give us suggestions of what they would like to see happen in St Andrews.

As a result of the launch of Go St Andrews we hope to see an increase in the number of people who are interested in taking different forms of transport to reduce their impact on the environment and those who are aware of the huge variety of options available to them in and around St Andrews. The website covers areas including walking, running, cycling, carshare, E – Car, buses, trains and fun ideas for local day trips. If you see something missing or would like a new tab opened please get in touch with your ideas.

A huge congratulations to the team at Transition St Andrews University and everyone else involved who have been working hard over the past couple of months to launch this fantastic new website. Go check it out now at http://www.gostandrews.org/.

If you have any questions about transport in and around St Andrews please do not hesitate to contact us.

Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews.

F: facebook.com/gostandrews/

T: twitter.com/gostandrews

What I’ve learned as a Halls Environment Rep

This week our blog is written by one of our Environment Hall Rep’s from Albany Park Hall, Fiona Blackwood! Fiona has worked hard at Albany Park Hall this past academic year and we are very thankful for her continued efforts and enthusiasm to make the university a more sustainable place and increase awareness within her hall of all that is going on on our campus. Take a read to see what she has been up to this past year, and if you would like to learn more about the role of Environment Hall Rep please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk!

First of all, my name is Fiona, and I’m coming to the end of a year as the Environments Rep for Albany Park. It’s been a challenging but fun role that has helped me to become more aware not only of some of the difficulties in promoting sustainability within halls, but also some of the fantastic things going on around St Andrews around sustainability and the environment. Halls are the first time away from home for many students, and especially in self-catered halls such as Albany where food is a more prominent issue, it can provide a really great opportunity to encourage environmentally-conscious habits. On top of that, having such a diversity of students in the university as a whole can enable amazing discussions around sustainability, and halls are a great venue for this.

Image from the Cycling in St Andrews facebook page

However, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with deadlines, exams, maintaining a social life, and the pressure to become somewhat employable that it can often become hard to act in a more environmentally conscious way. Personally, I think the two main perceived barriers to this are time and cost. In terms of time, having hall environments reps makes it easier to try and improve things like recycling and encouraging cycling by hopefully providing another liaison between the students, residential services and various other groups within St Andrews such as Bike Pool.

Image from The Tree facebook page

And then there’s the cost element, which can be discouraging when money is tight and it can seem difficult to find sustainable food and household products at an affordable price. However, The Tree is a fantastic project run by Transition which aims to make it easier and more affordable to buy local, Fairtrade and organic produce, and this year we set up a new drop-off point in Albany, which has hopefully made residents more aware of the initiative and encouraged its use. And from affordable food to completely free, Albany is also lucky enough to boast its own Edible Campus garden, where several events have been held, making residents more aware of the space.

I’ve learned that the ridiculous seems to work better when it comes to raising awareness, as shown by the Fairtrade banana costume that some of the hall reps donned to spread the news of St Andrews as a Fairtrade university. The smoothie bike also made an appearance in Albany for Fairtrade Fortnight, and events like pumpkin carving where people made some amazing food from the leftovers went down well.

So, while in many respects the year has flown by and there’s still so much more I had wanted to achieve, I think the best thing about being a hall Environments rep has been seeing how many projects are already going on around the university and trying to get the hall involved in them in some way. I think hall reps are a great way in general to try and make environmental things easier and more fun, and I hope this can continue!

 

Where are they now? Part 2

Every year the Environment Team gains a new Sustainability Intern whose position last for a year. This internship provides the incredible opportunity to work for the University of St Andrews Estates Environment Team, helping to support, develop and implement the sustainability agenda across the campus. Over a series of blogs we have invited some of our interns to answer a few questions about their time as Sustainability Intern and what they have being doing since finishing the position. Meet Sarah Duley who was with the Environment Team from 2012 -2013

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What was your favourite part of your role as Sustainability Officer?

I loved my time at St Andrews as an undergraduate studying Sustainable Development, so I was really excited to stay on for another as Sustainability Officer in the Estates team. It turned out to be, as expected, another fantastic year in St Andrews and a great way to begin a career in sustainability.

I think one of the highlights of working in the Environment Team that has to be the location – to walk to work along East Sands or pop out for a lunchtime stroll along the coast, or even the occasional post-work dip in the sea was a delight (especially now working in the centre of Edinburgh where open space is harder to find at lunchtime!). In terms of the role though, my highlight would probably be the work I undertook around sustainable food.

Was there a particular highlight of your year within the Environment Team?

I worked with the University’s catering team to develop a Sustainable Food Policy for the University amongst other food related projects from food waste in halls alongside Transition or chairing the Fairtrade Steering Group. This part of the work was not only incredibly interesting but it has led me to where I am today.

Do you think you were particularly sustainable before the role? How did your attitudes to the environment and your own behaviours change over the year?

I believe I was already relatively ‘environmentally friendly’ before beginning the role but I definitely didn’t have such an awareness and understanding of how food impacts on all areas of environmental, social and economic sustainability or how a powerful a tool it can be for change. Whilst working in the Environment Team I began to realise the power of food as a way of engaging people in sustainability and as a solution to many other sustainability challenges. Food is universally necessary, interesting and emotive. It means something to everyone and the way we eat – from farm to fork – impacts on the world around us immeasurably.

Tell us what you have been up to since finishing your position as Sustainability Intern!

I have been working at the Soil Association in Scotland for the last couple of years on a programme called Food for Life Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government, and aims to make good food the easy choice for everyone in Scotland. Good food holds the key to healthier people, a thriving economy and a greener environment – something I learnt during my time in St Andrews. My role involves working directly with caterers across the public and private sector in Scotland to help them to develop more sustainable menus and supply chains. We use the Food for Life Served Here (formerly Catering Mark) award certification to support this and currently over 20 million Food for Life meals are served across Scotland annually, across schools, universities, care homes, workplaces and visitor attractions. I get to travel across Scotland and meet some of the fantastic people working in our public kitchens – and it is great to have been able to build on my experiences as a Sustainability Officer!

It’s been wonderful to follow the work of the Environment Team, and Transition, since I moved to Edinburgh and I’ve been very excited to see the Guardbridge project move to fruition. All the best to everyone!

 

 

Where are they now?

Every year the Environment Team gains a new Sustainability Intern whose position last for a year. This internship provides the incredible opportunity to work for the University of St Andrews Estates Environment Team, helping to support, develop and implement the sustainability agenda across the campus. Over a series of blogs we have invited some of our interns to answer a few questions about their time as Sustainability Intern and what they have being doing since finishing the position. First up we have Lynsey Smith who was with the Environment Team from 2014 to 2015.

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What was your favourite part of your role as Sustainability Officer?

The people! The role requires you to work with lots of different people: students, university staff, colleagues at other institutions, members of the community and other external stakeholders. It is a great feeling when you are working together towards a common goal, and I was very inspired and motivated by the fantastic ideas generated by our students to help build a more sustainable St Andrews.

Was there a particular highlight of your year within the Environment Team?

Green Week and Fairtrade Fortnight were real highlights of my time in the Environment Team. We spent so long planning and preparing for all the activities that it was really rewarding to see so many students, staff, and members of the community getting involved in the work that we do and showing their support by taking the time out of their day to attend our events.

Do you think you were particularly sustainable before the role? How did your attitudes to the environment and your own behaviours change over the year you were with the team?

I think I was relatively sustainable before I took on the role, but there is always room for improvement! Holding the position of “Sustainability Officer” certainly makes you a lot more aware of your own behaviours and actions, and when trying to implement behaviour change across an institution, looking at your own actions is often a very good place to start.

What do you think the University’s strongest asset/project/policy is in it’s pursuit for sustainability?

Again…the people! As a whole, I think our University community is very passionate about the local environment, and a huge number of fantastic initiatives have stemmed from the desire to make St Andrews greener and greater. By nurturing this enthusiasm and with the right support I believe we can make St Andrews an even more sustainable institution.

Tell us what you have been up to since finishing your position as Sustainability Intern!

Since my contract ended I have remained in St Andrews, but now work in the Admissions unit as an Education Liaison Officer. My job involves a lot of travel to meet prospective students, tell them about St Andrews, and offer advice and guidance on the application process. As a unit we are very aware of the impact our business travel has on the environment, but it is very encouraging to see us using alternative means of connecting with students when possible (e.g. Skype sessions and webinars) and alternative methods of transport (rail travel is encouraged, and we use E-Cars for travel to local events).

Do you have any green new year’s resolutions for 2017?

Because I undertake so much business travel I am trying to keep my personal travel carbon to a minimum. I invested in a huge travel guide full of ideas for places to visit in the UK and have a couple of “staycations” planned for this year so that I can explore more of what is right on our doorstep!

A year in the life of the University’s Environment Team

The Environment Team 2015/2016

The Environment Team 2015/2016

It has certainly been a very busy year for the University of St Andrews’ Environment Team. The team have been consistently hard at work throughout the year with the University seeing an overall carbon emissions reduction by 8% compared to 2014/15, water consumption reduction by 4% and with reuse by from 2% to 4%! Throughout the year, Amanda our BEMS Engineer, has been working towards the successful completion of BEMS rationalisation and Siemens graphics which are now online for 50 of our buildings. We have also seen a change of Sustainability Officer when George King finished his post in the summer and Lindsey Mackay taking the position on at the start of August.

The team strives for sustainability across the whole of the University and we would like to thank all the departments and people who have worked alongside us this year to make it a success. We look forward to entering 2017 to tackle new challenges and continue to work hard to ensure that the future of the University, and its surrounded environments, are protected.

Here is a brief snapshot of some of the main projects we have been up to this year:

February

Guardbridge Park and Pedal Scheme

To help mitigate against travel disruption and to encourage the use of sustainable travel to and from work, the Environment Team and Transition operated a successful park and pedal scheme during road closures.

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March

Green Links Biodiversity Project

As part of the on-going work around The Open and sustainability the R&A will work on a number of local legacy projects from the 2015 Championship in St Andrews. Three projects have been agreed for funding to be delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the University of St Andrews and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.  The R&A would like to meet with various stakeholders to discuss opportunities around biodiversity related projects and have formed a discussion group to explore potential opportunities for collaboration and resource sharing in this area. Work with the University includes a Green Links map and noticeboards to advertise biodiversity hotspots around St Andrews.

April

Green Awards

This year we saw the introduction of the Green Society’s Award in collaboration with the Students’ Association which seeks to engage societies with sustainability and environmentally friendly behaviours. This year’s winners were St Andrews Adventure Group for their commitment to using electric cars throughout the year. The annual Green Sports Award went to the Canoe Club, winning £100.

August

Adaption to Climate Change

Continued work on University documents for Adaptation to Climate Change in order to ensure we are prepared for the impacts of climate change and to improve the resilience of the whole University as part of the Adaptation Learning Exchange (ALE). Adaptation Scotland are using the University of St Andrews as a case study for the rest of the sector, with staff and senior managers of Estates undertaking a climate impact assessment workshop. You can read the final document here.

September

Freshers’ Week: Welcome to the Green Bubble

Every year, when the students arrive back after the summer holidays, the centre of St Andrews gets busier and so does work within the University. This year Transition put on a huge array of exciting events including StAndRe-Use. The Environment Team were present to help out at various events and we had our own information stalls at the Green Fayre and Freshers’ Fayre, aiming to engage with students and let them know about our crucial work on campus. A full, fun filled but exhausting week!

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Environment Hall Reps

Within every hall on the University of St Andrews’ campus there are committees made up of students and wardens. Environmental Hall Reps make up a crucial part of each hall committee and whose role includes helping to reduce energy bills and costs throughout the year whilst promoting environmentally sustainable behaviours to their student bodies. At the end of September we held our annual training which was a great success and since then we have begun the Interhall Energy Competition and seen activities in halls including, Light Switch Off parties, environmentally friendly selfie competitions and Fairtrade quizzes.

interhall

October

Sustainability Manager

We now have our first Sustainability Manager! As of October, David Stutchfield, formally our Energy Officer, has now been promoted to Sustainability Manager within Estates. His roles will remain the same as before, but with a few extra important jobs added on.

University Fairtrade Status Renewal

Every two years the University requires its University Fairtrade Status to be renewed which involves collecting information on Fairtrade activities and outreach on campus, and looking at products sold across campus. We are delighted to announce that after a successful application, we have renewed our Fairtrade status for another two years with many more Fairtrade events coming your way in Fairtrade Fortnight 2017! Watch this space!

One of our Hall Environment Representatives helps spread the word about Fairtrade!

One of our Hall Environment Representatives helps spread the word about Fairtrade!

Green Raisin Competition

Raisin Weekend is a well-known tradition associated with St Andrews University, where academic families host an array of events and parties for their ‘children’, ending in a spectacular foam fight. The Green Raisin Competition encourages families to dress up their children in environmentally friendly costumes, with the idea that they reuse items instead of buying new things! This year we saw a fantastic array of costumes enter the foam fight with our winners being a Viking ship. The winning family receive an adventure kindly given by Blown Away Adventures!

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Environmental Facilitators

We held our first training of the academic year for the Environmental Facilitator programme for being interested in working within their departments and units to promote, champion and support environmentally friendly behaviours amongst their teams and making their colleagues aware of the impact they have. With help from CAPOD, we hosted a networking event with representatives from E-Car and Electric Bike Scotland coming to speak to us over lunch. Later in the afternoon we had a demonstration of the electric bikes with the chance to try one out for ourselves!

November

Resource Efficiency

The amount of landfill has increased from 641 tonnes to 750 tonnes with % recycling down from 73% to 68% (academic year 2015/16) however reuse has increased from 2% to 4% (14 to 32 tonnes) which is significant and highlights the University’s efforts to move waste management up the waste hierarchy. In the past academic year we have also collected and baled an additional 20 tonnes of cardboard for recycling. Over 1500 items of bedding (duvets and pillows) were collected to be deconstructed and reused as fill for new mattresses. This is a fantastic example of circular economy which the University and the Environment Team are aiming to implement and encompass within its various processes, in order to reduce waste and increase resource productivity.

Resource efficiency was implemented through a number of positive initiatives including supplier takeback schemes and WARPit – a resources redistribution scheme for staff. To date this has saved 107 tonnes of carbon by diverting waste from landfill and saved £187k on reduced procurement spend. End of Term donation points were also set up in Halls of Residence and collections carried out for student society StAndRe-Use, Barnados Books, Glenrothes Food Bank and local charity Forces Support. 17 tonnes of material was donated to Forces Support including clothing, shoes and crockery.

December

Eden Campus

December was a very exciting month for the Environment Team and the University of St Andrews. The Eden Campus biomass district heating centre was awarded the Sustainable Development Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards! Furthermore, a week later the biomass district heating boiler was officially lit by our Principal and commissioned!

 

 

Freshers’ Week 2016: A Guide to Green Events

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There are many many events going on this Freshers’ Week and whilst you are all probably going to be busy making new friends, settling into halls, attending events and trying out new societies do have a look and consider coming to these awesome events.

There’s more! Think food, bicycles, beach activities, colour fights, and other games, oh, and more food! There are just too many exciting events to talk about here so be sure to click the link at the bottom of this blog to find out about ALL the other Green Events we have going on this Freshers’ Week!

Monday 5th September

The Big Green Fair (St Katherine’s Lawn behind Library, 11am-3pm) is an outdoor festival celebrating the environment, with live music and great local food. Find out more about what our eco-friendly societies are up to this year and how to get involved in their activities and projects. The Environment Team (that’s us) will have a stand there too so be sure to pop by and say hi.

The Big Free Giveaway (Arts Lecture Theatre, 11am – 3pm) is an event where household items, kitchenware and stationery donated by previous students will be up for grabs! It’s a popular event so do make sure to arrive on time!

Tuesday 6th September

The St Andrews’ Veg Soc and Inklight Soc (Cockshaugh Park, 2pm – 4pm) are collaborating to bring you an exciting event filled with poems and smoothies! They will even have their own Smoothie Bike so you can make your own smoothie in a green way!

Wednesday 7th September

The Community Garden Sessions (Uni Community Garden, 2pm – 4pm) offers the opportunity for you to gain the knowledge and skills to grow your own food! With the University now having 10 food growing spaces that are open to students, staff and local people it’s also a very popular part of life here. Come along to learn more and enjoy some of the food from our gardens (a Transition event).

Transition St Andrews is part of a UK based initiative to reach out to academic and non-academic communities through events and training to help make communities more sustainable and aware of our impact on the world. Head down to East Sands to meet more of the team, learn about what is going on this year and have a fun and relaxing afternoon on the beach (Sea, Swim, BBQ)!

Thursday 8th September

The Wildlife and Conservation Society (WildSoc) are having a Scavenger Hunt (Rectors Café, 10am – 12pm) across St Andrews followed by a Pub Quiz (Drouthy Neebors, 7.30pm) at Drouthy Neebors. This one is not to be missed!  11313616_1642722232660940_2024001443_n

Want to meet some like-minded people and have a drink at the same time? Then come along to Green Drinks (St Andrews Brew Co, 5pm – 8pm) for the chance to meet people who are also interested in environmental issues and have a try of some local beer (or whatever takes your fancy).

Saturday 10th September

On Saturday join and meet the cycling community of St Andrews at St Andrews’ Bike Fest (Agnes Blackadder Hall, 11am – 2pm) where you can grab yourself a bargain ride, find out about training, maintenance and other bike help. There will be around 100 quality second hand bikes for sale plus many to rent through Bike Pool so make sure you arrive early as its going to be a popular event! This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to fix your bike and grab a bargain.

Sunday 11th September

Freshers’ Fayre is by far the biggest event of Freshers’ Week! On Sunday you will be able to discover all the different societies that you can get involved during your time in St Andrews. Be on the lookout for Transition, The Environment Team and Fairtrade St Andrews and all the other brilliant societies!

We look forward to welcoming you to the Green Bubble very soon. Have a great Freshers’ Week!

For more information on all other Green Events click here.

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Striving for Sustainable Labs – Interns join the Environment Team

Daniel and Jasmin (see photo below) will be joining the Environment Team for 6 weeks this summer, as Sustainable Lab Interns.

dan Jasmin

They are going to be focusing on laboratory sustainability, specifically looking at energy usage, good practice case studies, and ways to raise awareness among regular lab users.

They hope they can put their scientific degree backgrounds – chemistry and biology, respectively – to good use, looking at ways to improve the operations that take place throughout the University’s science faculty here in St Andrews.

Further Green Award Successes in 2016

Following the successes of the annual Green Sports Award, an award introduced to recognise and reward sustainable behaviour change within our sports clubs, the Environment Team have introduced a second award – the Green Society Award -to bestow upon the greenest societies of the Students’ Asssociation.

The Green Sports Award, now celebrating its third year, was won by the St Andrews University Canoe Club (STAUCC) for their wholehearted efforts to reduce their environmental impact as a club and to improve the local area. This year they undertook a recycling project with other sports clubs, to collect bras for the charity ‘Against Breast Cancer’ (ABC) which helped to avoid unnecessary landfill waste whilst fundraising for ABC. Their members also undertook a beach clean and clean-up of the Kinnessburn and helped improve biodiversity at Cambo Estate by purchasing bird boxes.

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Hugo Fairclough from STAUCC picks up the Green Sports Award from Mark Simpson, Director of Estates at the Sports Awards Ceremony

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STAAG’s 24-hour cycle ride outside the Students’ Association

For the inaugural Green Society Award, the St Andrews Adventure Group (STAAG) were announced winners for their use of sustainable transport on their

expeditions and by encouraging their members to think carefully about travel. For their Canoe Across Scotland challenge participants canoed from Fort William to Inverness and made sure to only use electric vehicles in the process, renting from the local E-Car club. Nearer to home, they run micro-adventures which support local hiking and camping without the need for transport at all and recently hosted a 24-hour cycle event to raise money for the charity Fauna and Flora International, who seek to protect and conserve threatened ecosystems worldwide.

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Stephanie Haywood of STAAG talks about their green activities at the Societies Award

A ‘Fuel Good’ New Year’s Resolution

In 2014-15 the University emitted 88 tonnes of CO2 from its fleet. To lessen this impact, twelve of our drivers have completed ‘Fuel Good’ Driver Training, a fuel efficiency course provided by the Energy Savings Trust and Transport Scotland.

The aim of the course is to teach drivers skills that will help them to drive more economically, avoiding harsh braking and over-acceleration.

In each of 50 minute one-to-one sessions the drivers are assessed on their current driving habits, with their average MPG compared before and after each training session. A video of an example session can be found here.

Upon completion of the course, our drivers have increased their MPG by an average of 14%, to around 46 MPG; saving fuel, avoiding pollution and shrinking the University’s carbon footprint. If these savings are applied to the whole year, over 3.6 tonnes of CO2 will be avoided by the University.Tam, Jim and Sam

Tam McMullan, Jimmy Webster and Sam Wood (pictured above) from Estates were the first three members of staff to complete the training. Congratulations to them and to Adam Taylor, Ross Grieve and Terry Mitchell, also from Estates and Andy Braid, David Jarrett, Jim Moonie, Steven Gonzalez, Mike Mulreany and Ray Schiavetta from IT Services who recently completed the course as well.

In the coming weeks staff from the School of Geography and Geoscience and the University Library will undergo training.
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