University Winter Shutdown 2015/16

Before leaving the University for the festive break please remember to:

  • switch off ALL electrical appliances at the wall
  • switch off ALL lights
  • turn down radiators to “1”
  • do not leave anything on standby

Remember that energy use really does all add up, so switch off all equipment, including printers and mobile phone chargers as well as the obvious computer and lights!  Turning off any equipment over the Christmas break will help us meet our carbon reduction targets and reduce cost to the University over the break.

Last year we avoided a whopping 249 tonnes of CO2 and saved £51,436 – a 27% reduction of the University’s total energy use! This was 50 tonnes more CO2 avoided than 2013/14, so hopefully we can continue the trend and avoid even more this Christmas

Research Buzzing in the North Haugh

beesThe Environment and Grounds teams have collaborated on a project to build a research apiary in the North Haugh. Professor David Evans, School of Biology, how has recently joined the University of St Andrews said “this is an outstanding resource to underpin our research on the virus diseases of honeybees which are responsible for high levels of colony losses every year. Bees dislike rain and strong winds, so keeping hives under cover means the colonies are a lot less disturbed when opened during bad weather.” He went on to add that “our studies depend on having bees available for as much of the year as possible. The sheltered environment of the ‘bee shed’ will help keep colonies active in early Spring and late Autumn.” Further details are available from the research group website http://www.evanslab.org.uk/bees/

 

 

Get secure! Locks, security marking and flashing armbands giveaway

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Locks, cycling safety leaflets and flashing armbands

Want to reduce the risk of your bike from being stolen? Looking for a lock to protect it? Want to be more visible as the nights draw in? Then come along to one of our ‘get secure’ sessions!

Not only are we selling bike locks at a subsidised price of £10 (RRP £15) but we are also giving away reflective and flashing armbands for *free*. That’s right – free!

On top of that Police Scotland will be offering security markings for your bicycles and electronic equipment – again – at no cost.

All of the sessions are between 1230 and 1400 and the dates and locations are as follows:

Thursday 1st October  – Andrew Melville Hall
Thursday 8th Oct – Agnes Blackadder Hall
Thurs 15th Oct – University Hall
Thurs 22nd Oct – John Burnett Hall
Thurs 29th Oct – St Salvator’s Hall
Thurs 5th November – Albany Park
Thurs 12th Nov – St Regulus’ Hall

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Last week’s session at DRAFP

If you are still looking to purchase a bike then you can join the Bike Pool on Facebook or contact BikeWorks on Facebook or by phone on 01592 751500 who provide second hand refurbished bicycles.

Green Events not to miss this Freshers’ Week

Here are the highlights for all things sustainability-related in St Andrews during Freshers’ Week – don’t miss out!

Monday

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 & projects.

The Big Giveaway with StAnd Re-Use (same time, Arts lecture theatre): Household items, kitchenware and stationery donated by previous students, all available for free! That’s right – FREE! Arrive early to avoid disappointment and don’t forget to bring a bag

Tuesday – Carbon Conversations, St Andrews Botanic Garden, 12pm – 1:30pm

Carbon Conversations is a free 6-session programme run in St Andrews which looks at individual carbon footprints and what can be done to reduce them, through interactive sessions which include games and group discussions as well as individual reflection. This taster session will introduce you to some of the activities so you can decide if it is for you, while enjoying lunch in the beautiful surroundings of the St Andrews Botanic Gardens. Bring a friend and pick up some great energy and money-saving tips!
Meet at the front gate at 12pm or find us either in the glassclass or learning den. Bring your lunch and we will have some to share

Wednesday – Sow, Grow and Eat at the University Community Garden, 2-4pm
Growing your own food is a skill for life. 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. Find out more and get your hands dirty at this special session in the St Andrews University Community Garden where we will be harvesting crops and enjoying some food made from the garden’s produce. Drop in at any time during this session. (Edible Campus: Transition UStA event)IMG_1524

University Community Garden (opposite the Observatory on Buchanan Gardens)
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1145078895519158/

 

Thursday – Charitable and Volunteering Fair, Students’ Association, 11am onwards

Passionate about development and Fairtrade? Then come to our stall at the Charitable and Volunteering Fair and find out how you can get involved. This is an especially exciting time to do so as the town is celebrating its 10 year anniversary as a ‘Fairtrade Town’ and the University will also be celebrating its 10 year anniversay, in 2016. What are you waiting for?

Friday – Freshers’ Bike Sale, Agnes Blackadder Car Park, 10am onwards

Looking for a cheap, green and healthy way of getting  around town? Want to learn how to fix your bike? Then come along to our annual and extremely popular second hand bike sale!

This year Bikeworks will bring bikes, teaming up with St Andrews Bike Pool so you can learn to fix your new bike or bring along one you own already to ensure it’s in good working order.

We sell out very quickly so make sure to be early to avoid disappointment!

 

freshers bike sale

 

From China to Scotland: Engineers get Creative

Last week saw 22 engineering students from the South China University of Technology (SCUT) complete an intensive three week ‘Creativity in Engineering’ course here in St Andrews with ELT. The course focused on tackling the University’s sustainable energy challenges and seeking ways  to help us achieve our goal of becoming the UK’s first energy carbon neutral university in 2016.

Creative Engineers from SCUT, China

Creative Engineers from SCUT, China

Eager to find out more, the students were briefed on the University’s plans by David Stutchfield, the Energy Officer within our Environment Team, and were subsequently invited to visit our sustainable energy projects.

First on the list was Guardbridge, the £25 million biomass district heating project situated four miles from St Andrews in a disused paper. This scheme will heat and cool the University’s building with low carbon energy, saving around half a million tonnes of carbon within 20 years.

Guardbridge Old Paper Mill Site

Guardbridge Old Paper Mill Site

Next, was the site for the community wind farm project at Kenly, which will save 19,000 tonnes of carbon per year when it comes online. The students also got the opportunity to visit an active biomass plant, micro renewable energy projects at MUSA in St Andrews and the Michelin factory in Dundee.

After their (multiple!) trips the students were tasked to expand on the University’s current proposals and use their creativity to seek innovate ways that they could be made more sustainable. Their efforts culminated in group project presentations at the end of the week, bringing together the knowledge they had gained from the site visits, the lecture series and the ‘English for Engineers’ language course.

It was a tough decision for the judging panel but it was decided that Zhang Baori, Jiang Ziliang, Peng Jie and Huang Ledeng’s group was the best overall! Their proposals included high altitude wind turbines alongside an integrated anaerobic digestion (AD) and combined heat and power (CHP) system at Kenly farm. Thank you to all the groups involved, your proposals have proven your drive to produce new and inspired ideas!

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Action shots of the winning team's proposals (above). The winner team and judges from left to right: Peng Jie, Zhang Baori, Rohan Fernando, George King, Jiang Ziliang, Pamela McIlldowie, Nicola Dobson, Huang Ledeng (below)

Action shots of the winning team’s proposals (above). The winner team and judges from left to right: Peng Jie, Zhang Baori, Rohan Fernando, George King, Jiang Ziliang, Pamela McIlldowie, Nicola Dobson, Huang Ledeng (below)

Meet the 2015 Interns – Richard Adams

Following the success of last year’s internships, the Environment Team have taken on two more interns to work on various projects with us this summer. It’s great having some new faces in the office, so we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce them to readers of our blog so you can find out a bit more about what they’ve been working on! First up is our Travel Carbon Intern, Richard:

Richard Adams

Name: Richard Adams
Where are you from?: I’m from Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England.
Internship Title: Travel Carbon Intern
Degree and year of study: I’ve just finished my second year studying Geography.

Give a brief snapshot of your role:
My job is to take the data acquired from various sources through which the university books its business travel arrangements and use it to extrapolate a CO2 estimate from it. I am also using the staff and student survey data to estimate the emissions associated with commuting to/from the university and finally looking at how the current systems for gathering this data can be improved to make future estimates more accurate and streamlined.

What attracted you to this internship with the Environment Team?
I wanted to gain experience working within the environmental sector and doing real-world work, building on what I have studied in my first 2 years here.

What have you learnt/what skills have you acquired so far from the internship?
I have learnt a lot of Excel and data skills which will be very useful in the future, but mostly the experience of working in an office environment with meetings/reports/suppliers has given me lots of skills required for working in professional ‘real-world’ environments.

How does this internship fit into your future career plans?
I would like to work in the environmental/sustainability sector and this internship has given me experience working within a team focused on environmental work and hopefully will be valuable in getting future work in the sector.

Share one tip for sustainable living that you wish more students would adopt: Try and buy local produce that is in season. It (usually) has less packaging, has travelled less miles to get here and you’re also supporting the local economy.

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Click here to meet our EcoCampus Intern, Eloise, and check out the projects last year’s interns (Dominyka, Daihachi, and Elena) worked on last summer!

End of term – what happens to all our “stuff”?

What happens to all our _stuff__

You’ve finished your exams, packed your bags, donated your unwanted items, and you’re ready to leave St Andrews for the summer…but what happens to all the “stuff” students donate?

Household items

10575351_1461008610848687_8140496115457494931_oFrom pots and pans to coathangers, stationery, and a wide variety of miscellaneous household goods, St AndRe-Use volunteers collect all these items from hall donation points and from STANDEN’s private residence collections. After some intensive sorting sessions (see above!), the cutlery and crockery is washed in hall dishwashers, then everything is boxed up and stored for the rest of the summer. Once students return in September, the items are taken along to the Freshers’ Week Big Green Fair where the thousands of items are given away for free to be used and enjoyed by another cohort of students!

Clothes

donateditemsDonations of clothes and accessories are collected by Frontline Fife, a local charity that provides services to help alleviate the effects of homelessness. Donated items are either passed directly onto those in need, or used to stock their Kirkcaldy-based boutique, “Re-Love It”, which raises funds for their projects.

Food

food_drive_cans_002_-_webAll donations of unopened, non-perishable food, toiletries, and cleaning products are collected and taken to St Andrews’ food bank, Storehouse, where they will be used to help local families in need.

Books

tumblr_n9iy64AQPN1sdo33qo3_500Whether it’s a novel or a course textbook, all books dropped off at donation points are collected by Barnardo’s and taken to be re-sold in their shop on Bell Street, raising funds to help transform the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children.

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Click here for more information on what to do with your end of term waste.

Revision Tips for Wellbeing

Wellbeing blog banner

An important part of  leading a green lifestyle and taking care of the planet involves taking care of yourself. During the revision period, exam stress affects most people and can make you feel exhausted and anxious. These simple tips give you ideas for small things you can fit into your day to help maintain your wellbeing and reduce your stress during revision…

Get outside

Let’s face it – being cooped up in the library is no fun at all. Take a short walk outside during study breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, helping to focus your mind and get a bit of clarity. If the weather’s nice, study outside in a garden, or schedule a walk along the beach with friends to get away from your laptop screen and give yourself something to look forward to!

If you fancy getting your hands dirty, join Transition for a spot of therapeutic gardening and seed sowing at Andrew Melville Hall on 1st & 15th May from 12.30-2pm.

Gentle exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress busters around! You might feel like you are unable to take much time out from studying over the revision period, but instead of giving up on exercise completely, taking regular breaks that include some exercise will refresh yourself and clear your mind – try a quick walk around the library, or doing some stretches in your room. Depending on what time of day you work best, fit exercise into your study schedule – for example if you work better later on in the day, go to the gym first thing in the morning to wake yourself up and get ready for the day ahead. If you’re still struggling, go with a friend and turn it into an opportunity to catch up!

Yoga is another good option, with YogiSoc running the following classes throughout the revision fortnight:

Monday Meditation – 7.30-8.30pm, The View, donation to charity
Tuesdays – 5-6pm, 136 North St, £2
Thursdays – 3-4pm, 136 North St, £2
Saturdays – 3-4pm, grass at East Sands, free

Get a good night’s sleep

Tiredness can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, and can make you feel overwhelmed. On top of that, when you’re tired your brain won’t be working at it’s best, so aim to get a good 8 hours sleep a night. Ensure you’re getting enough quality rest by winding down in the hour before going to bed – stop checking social media, switch off your laptop, and read a magazine or listen to some calming music to help you drift off.

Eat healthily (& regularly!)

Try not to give in to the temptation of junk food – make sure you maintain a healthy and balanced diet whilst studying to meet all your nutritional needs. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts on hand to fuel your brain through revision, and make sure you’re eating regularly to help ease your body into a routine.

Eating healthily needn’t be expensive – Transition will be giving away free fruit and veg from their Edible Campus gardens outside the library on 29th April, so be sure to swing by their VegTable!

Have a hot drink…that isn’t coffee!

Taking a break to have a hot drink can offer some comfort when the going gets tough. While coffee is normally the drink of choice when studying, try to avoid having too much caffeine as this can ‘hype’ you up and make your thinking less clear. Go decaf, or try a hot chocolate or herbal tea instead.

The Fairtrade Steering Group will be giving away 250 free packs of Fairtrade Clipper tea outside the library on Thursday 30th April from 11am.

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Remember to look after yourself, and if you need more help battling exam stress, Student Services have some great resources available online.

Interhall Energy Highlights 2014/15

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This year’s Interhall Energy Competition came to an end at the Hall Champions League Award Ceremony this week. Celebrating the achievements of all the halls across sports, charitable fundraising, and energy saving, it was great to see so many committee members in attendance, fueling some friendly interhall rivalry!

Overall, the combined efforts of all the halls this year has reduced the University’s CO2 emissions by a fantastic 205 tonnes…that’s the weight of 34 male African elephants!

In order to achieve this, the Hall Environment Reps have been doing some fantastic work raising awareness for a range of environmental issues through a variety of activities, including:

  • bike repair workshops
  • maintaining their hall Environment boards
  • Fairtrade bake sales
  • green film screenings
  • food waste collections and composting
  • books/clothes/DVD swap events
  • installing shower timers
  • shopping bag re-use initiatives
  • “bring your own cup” parties
  • seed sowing and gardening
  • Facebook campaigns to encourage recycling
  • …and much, much more!

Each month’s winners also put their prize money to good use, investing in publicity materials for environmental campaigns, equipment for their hall gardens, and funding bike maintenance sessions with the student Bike Pool group.

The Environment Reps have been supported throughout the Interhall Competition by staff from Transition, the Environment Team, the Students’ Association, and Residential Business Services. On top of this, two student interns, Gillian and Bryony, worked to produce a “toolkit” of resources for the reps, and publicised the competition through the Interhall Energy facebook page, which now has a shiny new logo:

10404450_768810933210166_3441283677716847000_nSo, without further ado, here’s the roundup of all the winners of the Interhall Energy Competition 2014/15!

Monthly Winners

October – McIntosh Hall
November – University Hall
December – Andrew Melville Hall
February – Andrew Melville Hall
March – Agnes Blackadder Hall
April – Albany Park

interhallwinners

Semester 1 Overall Winners

1st – Andrew Melville Hall
2nd – McIntosh Hall
3rd – University Hall

Semester 2 Overall Winners

1st – Andrew Melville Hall
2nd – David Russell & Fife Park Apartments
3rd – Deans Court

Hall Champions League Winner

McIntosh Hall

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Congratulations again to all our winners! We can’t wait to meet next year’s group of Environment Reps and see which hall will come out on top!

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Useful links:

Introduction to the Interhall Energy Competition & Hall Champions League

Top Energy Saving Tips

Guest Blog: Biodiversity Enhancement at the University of St Andrews

This week’s blog post comes to you from Nic Wells, one of Transition’s interns, as he introduces you to biodiversity at the University of St Andrews…

Biodiversity MapAs part of its sustainability policy, the University of St Andrews has committed itself to reducing its environmental impact through numerous practices, one of which is fostering and increasing biodiversity on its grounds. Under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) 2004 Act, the University is bound to promote biodiversity, and doing this will raise awareness of environmental issues within the university and the local community.

Why is biodiversity so important?

The biodiversity present on the earth make up ecosystems, and these ecosystems provide us with certain services. Some of these ecosystem perks are intangible like water and air purification, and some are concrete and economically useful, like timber production. Conserving biodiversity makes environmental and economic sense, and doing so can also provide aesthetic benefits to communities.

So, what types of biodiversity is the University working to preserve? How is it doing this?

Birds

bluetit

Birds are key ecological actors. Bird species maintain stable insect populations, increase genetic diversity through plant pollination and ensure forest survival through seed dispersal and plant pollination. Additionally, their migratory patterns and feeding habits have been crucial for environmental monitoring of climate change and pollutant levels (BirdLife International, 2015).

For many bird species that have been affected by habitat loss, nestboxes act as substitutes for the holes found in old trees (RSPB, 2014). Nestbox design – hole width and depth – varies according to the species it is intended to attract; for example, a small nest box could attract coal tits or tree sparrows, while an open-fronted nest box would attract robins or spotted flycatchers (British Trust for Ornithology, 2015). The University is in the process of installing small nest boxes, which are designed mainly to attract blue tits, but they will also provide homes for coal tits and great tits.

The University, with the help of a Postgraduate student, is planning to set up around 100 bird boxes throughout University grounds; these will be located in clusters in the arboretum, in the “secret garden” beside the Bute Building, in a space behind the Observatory, and in the Botanic Gardens. Their installation is part of a study that is designed to investigate the vocal communication patterns between blue tits when warning each other about incoming predators.

Bats

bat

Bats perform important ecological roles. Like birds, they pollinate flowers, disperse plant seeds and control insect populations. However, their contribution to wider ecosystem dynamics is threatened around the world due to losses of suitable habitat.

Bats typically prefer to roost in warm places during the summer and in cooler placers in the winter. During the summer, pregnant female bats form maternity roosts by congregating in a safe place to give birth. If they are disturbed during this period, they may abandon their young (Bat Conservation Trust, 2015). Bat boxes offer additional and alternative resting spaces for bats throughout the year. Like nestboxes, bat box characteristics such as size, location, construction materials and access are crucial to bat inhabitation and survival. For example, placing them close to freshwater, trees and hedgerows provides access to foraging areas (Bat Conservation Trust, 2015).

The University has just recently installed two bat boxes, one at David Russell Apartments and one at the Bute Building.

Wildflowers

flowers

Wildflower species have declined over the decades, mainly due to changes in land-use patterns. Wildflower meadows support higher levels of biodiversity and provide natural services, like pollination, biological pest control and insect conservation, which in turn benefit other fauna such as birds and bees (Haaland et al, 2011). Wildflower strips are relatively easy to establish and maintain. Wildflowers thrive in either seasonally waterlogged soil or areas with low soil fertility (Forestry Commission, 2015). The University is currently running a trial to observe the relationship between greater abundance of wildflowers and insect species levels at Albany Park.

Insects

insecthotel

The primary purpose of insect hotels, also called biodiversity towers, is to provide additional habitat space for small organisms, insects and other invertebrates. Often, the hotels are used during hibernation or breeding periods. They can be built from a variety of natural and/ or repurposed materials. The hotel stacks imitate natural features required by wildlife species like nooks, crannies and rotting tree trunks (Ulster Wildlife Trust). For example, dead wood provides habitat for beetles, centipedes, woodlice and spiders, and materials with holes act as shelter for solitary bees, which are crucial for pollination. The University currently “runs” two hotels: one in the Albany Park garden and one at the BMS (Biomedical Sciences) Building at the North Haugh, and it operates a biodiversity tower in the University Hall garden.

Check out this link to see what nest boxes, bat boxes and insect hotels look like.

Sources
Bat Conservation Trust (2015) ‘Bat roosts’ [online], available: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bat_roosts.html
BirdLife International (2015) ‘We value birds for many reasons’ [online], available: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/introduction/INTRO4
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) (2015) ‘Which birds use next boxes?’ [online], available: http://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw/nesting-birds
Forestry Commission (2015) ‘Wildflower meadow habitats’ [online], available: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/urgc-7edjrg
Haaland, C., Naisbit, R.E. and Bersier, L. (2011) ‘Sown wildflower strips for insect conservation: a review’, Insect Conservation and Diversity, 4(1), 60-80.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) (2014) ‘Nestboxes for small birds’ [online], available: http://www.rspb.org.uk/makeahomeforwildlife/advice/helpingbirds/nestboxes/smallbirds/index.aspx
Ulster Wildlife Trust (Year unavailable) ‘Building an Insect Hotel Habitat’ [online], available: http://www.bbcwildlife.org.uk/sites/birmingham.live.wt.precedenthost.co.uk/files/Insect%20Hotel.pdf