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

sarah

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.

lynseysmith-002

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.

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!

13939597_1080522472031953_6292816951608564830_n

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!

blownawayposter-a4-land

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!

 

 

Fairtrade Fortnight Event Line-up

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Fairtrade Fortnight is the nation’s biggest celebration of all things Fairtrade, and we’ve got a great line-up of events to help you join in the fun in St Andrews. There’s something for all ages and interests, so read on to find out what we have planned, and be sure to get involved!

Tuesday 24th February

Fairly Traded Chocolate Tasting with Iain Burnett
Join local chocolatier, Iain Burnett, for a fantastic fairly traded chocolate tasting experience! Learn more about cocoa’s journey from producer to final product, and discover what makes these multi award-winning chocolates so delicious!
Cost: £5, Tickets available here.
Time: 7-8pmchocolate-20clip-20art-chocolates_assorted
Location: Sandy’s Bar, Students’ Association
Facebook event: Join here.

Wednesday 25th February

Fairtrade Banana Giveaway
Support Fairtrade and aid your workout by picking up a free banana from the Sports Centre!banana-20clip-20art-1386805768
Cost: Free
Time: 1pm
Location: Sports Centre

Friday 27th February

Fairtrade & Fairly Traded Wine Tasting with The St Andrews Wine Company
Raise a glass to Fairtrade Fortnight by sampling some of the finest Fairtrade and fairly traded wines, in a tasting led by the St Andrews Wine Company.
Cost: Free, but booking essential – please reserve your space here.wine
Time: 7-8.30pm
Location: Conference Room, Byre Theatre
Facebook event: Join here.

Monday 2nd March

Film Screening: “A Powerful Noise”
This film focuses on women’s issues in the developing world, which are an important part of the Fair Trade issue. A Powerful Noise weaves the inspiring stories of three ordinary women who have overcome gender barriers to spark unprecedented and remarkable changes in their societies.
The film takes you inside the lives of these women to witness their daily challenges and their significant victories over poverty and oppression. Their stories are personal yet illustrate larger issues affecting millions of marginalized women worldwide. A Powerful Noise is a meditation on the inherent potential of women to change the world.

Cost: Free.
Time: 6.30-8pmAPN_TYPE_TREATMENT
Location: School 1, St Salvator’s Quad
Facebook event: Join here.

Wednesday 4th March

Fairtrade Banana Giveaway
Support Fairtrade and aid your workout by picking up a free banana from the Sports Centre!banana-20clip-20art-1386805768
Cost: Free
Time: 1pm
Location: Sports Centre

Thursday 5th March

Poetry Walk: A Fair Trade in Verse
For Fairtrade Fortnight, this year’s poetry walk, led by Anna Crowe, finds poems engaging with issues of fair trade and justice in likely and unlikely places around St Andrews. A chance to explore this historic and beautiful Fairtrade town, home to Scotland’s oldest university and the game of golf, through a personal selection of poems.

Dependent on fair weather, please check with the StAnza desk.

Event presented in association with StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival and the St Andrews Fairtrade Town Campaign.
Cost: Free.index
Time: 10-11am
Location: Byre Theatre Garden
Website: http://www.stanzapoetry.org/2015/event.php?event=691
Facebook event: Join here.

Saturday 7th March

Fairtrade Cotton Tote Bag Decorating
Want to jazz up a boring tote bag? Drop in any time between 12-4pm to upcycle one you already have or decorate one of our 100% Fairtrade cotton bags with any design you like! Craft supplies, tea, coffee, and biscuits will be provided.
Cost: Free.totes
Time: 12-4pm (drop-in event)
Location: MUSA Learning Loft
Facebook event: Join here.

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Be sure to like the Fairtrade in St Andrews Facebook page for all the latest updates!

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

Fairtrade Fortnight is here! (and much more)…

Aside

FT fortnight 2014

Looking back to last Friday (when I started drafting this post), WOW I can’t believe how busy things were around here… among other things my desk was covered by,

banana costumes,

Fairtrade wine,

posters, leaflets and green t-shirts…

But I can’t help but feel its just the beginning of things to come. That’s because today begins Fairtrade Fortnight, the two weeks of the year dedicated to all this Fairtrade!

www.st-andrews.ac.uk/fairtrade/

The second week of Fairtrade Fortnight also happens to be Elections week (a great chance to stand for Environment & Ethics rep), and following that mayhem, we’ll be winding up the following week with Green Week celebrations before holidays begin!

With dozens of events planned and countless hours preparing all year (it always seems to come faster than expected) we are set to have a fantastic time with loads of great events. I’ve put together a cheat sheet for those who don’t want to miss out on anything but hate having to run the gauntlet to the library with all the flier-handing-out.

FT wine & grapes graphic

Best small event

A free Fairtrade wine tasting on Thursday 27th Feb. Spaces limited so make sure to book your e-ticket at www.st-andrews.ac.uk/fairtrade/.

Best for your CV

While I encourage you all to run for Environment & Ethics Rep for the Students Association, don’t miss out on these two great internships offered here with the Environment Team which will be closing applications on Friday 28th. For application details visit:

www.st-andrews.ac.uk/careers/wiki/St_Andrews_Summer_Internship_Scheme.

trees graphic

Best for the environment

Ever wanted to plant a tree (or two)? Well your chance is coming up. Two tree planting events will be held during Greenweek, so keep an eye out while the dates are being confirmed.

http://standrewsgreenweek.com/whatson/

Best talk

Join us on March 1st as we listen to the experiences of Fairtrade producer, Fatima Ismael, discuss her experiences as manager of a Nicaraguan Fairtrade coffee cooperative. A great chance to touch up on your Spanish as she will be speaking in her native tongue with a translator.

www.facebook.com/events/593630364058567/

Best exercise

Cycletricity is back again! Watch the sports clubs compete to see who can generate the most bike-powered energy in this day-long event held in the centre of town in Church Square.

http://standrewsgreenweek.com/whatson/

Most fun

What better way to begin Green Week than with a ceilidh! Get your green on!

http://standrewsgreenweek.com/whatson/

Green Week Main Logo for website small

That’s all for now folks. Keep an eye out for further updates over the next 3 weeks 🙂