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.

bike1

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!

 

 

Environment Team Year in Review

Year in review

It’s been a busy old year for the Environment Team, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been up to over the last 12 months…

The year kicked off with new food waste regulations which came into force on 1st January, pushing our total recycling rate up to 73%! Once our food waste is collected, it goes on a rather interesting journey…click here to find out more about what happens to it after it leaves our kitchens.

nexus-r-shuttle-recycling-bin-signkitOne of many new food waste bins to pop up over the campus in 2014!

Once everyone returned for Semester 2 our first big event was Fairtrade Fortnight, with a whole host of activities planned to help raise awareness about trade issues including Fairtrade wine tasting, campaigning at local supermarkets, and a talk from a Nicaraguan coffee producer.

IMG_0608Fairtrade wine tasting in Fairtrade Fortnight.

Hot on the heels of Fairtrade Fortnight, 2014 saw the biggest Green Week yet with 35 events attracting over 750 participants – including the Principal! From tree planting to beach cleans, and swap shops to film screenings, there was plenty to keep us busy!

Green Week Pledge - PrincipalLouise Richardson pledges to make the University carbon neutral during her term of office.

This spring our five Transition interns surveyed various parts of the campus to record their levels of biodiversity. St Mary’s Quad and Andrew Melville pond were found to be particular hotspots for wildlife, so be sure to keep an eye out the next time you’re passing through!

Red Admiral (2)Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

As students prepared to pack up and leave for the summer, StAndRe-Use were out collecting unwanted items and donations to pass onto students in September. Over a tonne of items were collected including household items, sports equipment, stationary, books, DVDs, thousands of clothes hangers, and a plethora of other weird and wonderful goods!

1907648_1412791679003714_120925503465276672_nJust a small selection of items collected by StAndRe-Use.

Estates was a hub of activity over the summer with three student interns joining the team to work on a number of projects. Find out what Dominyka, Daihachi, and Elena got up to in each of their respective blog posts.

There was also plenty to celebrate as the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) received a Gold Green Tourism Award for their commitment to environmental excellence and sustainability in practice. Read more about MUSA’s green efforts here.

P1060479MUSA – the latest recipient of a Gold Green Tourism Award.

As we welcomed new students to St Andrews in September, we also launched our updated Little Green Guide, and got to meet a lot of new faces at Transition’s Big Green Fair on a gloriously sunny day on St Katherine’s Lawn. The queue for the big StAndRe-Use giveaway snaked all the way round the library, and all 4,000 items disappeared within an hour, marking yet another successful event for the team!

1466148_761842487209824_2028672481353058614_nOur Freshers’ Week mural full of green pledges!

October was a particularly busy month for us with Transition hosting Scotland’s first Transition Roadshow event, welcoming fellow “transitioners” from across the country to network and share ideas. We also launched our Green Raisin Competition and were overwhelmed with the number of fantastic, sustainably-designed entries, as well as our achievement of making this year’s foam fight the first one to produce zero waste to landfill. On top of all that, the new carrier bag charge came into effect at the end of the month, and our biomass plant at Guardbridge received planning permission from Fife Council. Keep up to date with developments over at the Guardbridge Energy Centre site.

Rebecca Clark & Sarah Fenner - St Andrews themed MonopolyThe winners of our Green Raisin Competition.

November saw a new set of Environmental Facilitators “graduate” from our training course at an event attended by the Quaestor and Factor, Derek Watson. Our banana suit was also put to good use publicizing the university’s renewed Fairtrade status, along with the launch of our Fairtrade gift guide. Be sure to keep an eye out for news about Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 – can we manage to top the success of this year?

Environmental FacilitatorsEnvironmental Facilitators’ graduation event.

Finally, as the students all knuckled down for their exams and began to leave St Andrews to spend the holidays elsewhere, we launched our Winter Shutdown campaign to ensure we manage to save as much energy as possible over the break by switching off all electrical appliances and turning down the radiators. Our Environmental Facilitators helped spread this message to all our staff, as well as setting up food bank donation points across the campus, collecting over 150kg to donate to the St Andrews food bank to spread a little Christmas cheer.

Donated foodThe huge collection of food bank donations from our Environmental Facilitators.

All in all a pretty good year! We’ll be back blogging again in January, but until then…

Merry Christmas centred

Electric Vehicles Impress

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Front profile of the new Nissan Leaf EV

What would your commute feel like in an electric vehicle?

To find out the answer I met with the University’s Electrochemistry PhD researcher Euan McTurk to discuss his vintage Peugeot 106 electric vehicle (“EV” to the uninitiated) which he has been using on his commute from Dundee to St Andrews.

After thirteen years of TLC his 106 still works like a charm, and surprisingly, is very fast off the line! Recently he replaced the original nickel-cadmium battery with a new lithium ion pack which takes him 60 miles per charge – well more than enough to cover the distance there and back.  Euan had the option to fit larger pack that offers a range of over 100 miles but found that the smaller pack was sufficient for his needs.

Euan discusses ‘EV etiquette’, a phase he uses to refer to the particular issues of being an EV owner. For example, while out on our test drive around town, we stopped at the new electric charging station in Argyle Streetcar park. With only two available spaces for electric vehicles at the charger, Euan reminds me that EV users must be respectful of others and avoid parking at public chargers for longer than they need to so as not to cause others to wait at the charger for extended periods. This is only rarely an issue however, as I soon learn that a rapid charger can replenish a battery in as little as 20 minutes – comparable even to waiting in line at a petrol station!

“Nissan Leaf – best car I’ve ever driven”

Euan has a passion for all things electric and is quick to update me on the improvements in EV technology and design since his 106 version originally came out in 1995. While a number of new models are in production, Euan highly recommends the Nissan Leaf line which comes equipped with the latest comforts and tech – compromising nothing, while gaining impressive EV credentials that blow hybrids out of the water! In fact the fellow EV we met at the charging point was one of a fleet of Nissan Leafs used by Fife Council.

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The new electric charging point for St Andrews located in Argyle Street carpark

Why choose an electric vehicle?

With no operating pollution from exhaust (thus no emissions of CO2, nitrogen and sulphur oxides, or other gases emitted by a convenient petrol engine that contribute to global warming, smog, and pollution), and no reliance on fossil fuels (if using renewably sourced electricity) and the economic and political controversies associated with oil production, EV’s are one of the greenest forms of transport. These are huge benefits that if replicated on a large scale have the potential for making a dramatic influence on society-wide ecological and carbon footprints.

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Electrochemistry PhD researcher Euan McTurk takes us for a testride in his vintage Peugeot 106 electric vehicle

Top tips for going electric

During my hour with Euan I realised there are few downsides to EV’s and many benefits. Here are some to keep in mind when you consider test driving an EV for your next car!

Pros

  • Excellent environmental credentials: Euan reckons that even the footprint of building and running a new EV is several tonnes less than the footprint of using an existing petrol car over the 8+yrs of the EV battery’s lifetime,
  • Great new models to choose from with all the latest comforts and tech,
  • Falling prices of EV’s as the market increases and technology improves,
  • Better technology, especially with regards to battery lifetime and charge – meaning you can go further, recharge quicker, and increase overall efficiency.
  • Vastly reduced running costs versus petrol and diesel cars; Euan’s commute, which uses 100% electricity from renewable energy, costs £1 per day, saving him £700 a year on fuel costs alone, and more when you factor in the free car tax and reduced maintenance bills!

Cons

  • Cost is generally higher than a similarly designed petrol car (e.g. a new Nissan Leaf goes for c£17,000) but prices are expected to continue decreasing,
  • EV’s can only take you so far before needing a recharge; luckily this is getting easier and easier as batteries become more efficient, more charging points become available (like our new charge point in St Andrews), and rapid chargers decrease charging times.  Additionally, some manufacturers give EV buyers the opportunity to borrow a petrol or diesel car for a few days a year to cover the odd trip that is outwith the range of the EV.

If you, or a friend, commute with an EV please let me know – I would love to hear about your experiences as well! (contact directly at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk)

For the latest on EV news, charging point locations, and reviews visit EV Association Scotland at http://www.eva-scotland.org/.

Dune Action Day with Environmental Facilitators!

ImageAs part of the Environmental Facilitators programme http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/environment/EnvironmentalFacilitators/ we spent some time on the West Sands dunes last Wednesday. We were helping Fife Coast and Countryside Trust with their Dune rehabilitation programme and took part in one of their monthly ‘Dune Action Days’. We spent the hour in the sunshine removing invasive species and helping to stabilise the dunes.

This activity, which sits in the ‘Community Investment’ section of the programme is one of many exciting workshops and talks in the programme. For more information or to get involved contact eImagenvironment@st-andrews.ac.uk

The next Dune Action Day will run on 16th August and we will be there from 12noon to 1pm. Hopefully it will be just as sunny as this week!

See you there!