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!

 

 

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.

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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!

 

 

St Andrews hosts Energy Ethics Conference

Last week saw the University of St Andrews host an international Energy Ethics conference, where the ethical dilemmas surrounding our  relationships with energy were explored by over 25 academics. Topics of discussion ranged from the energy injustices for the ‘off-grid’ citizen, to the complicated ethical considerations ex-coal miners must face, in response to a declining industry.

Drawing from debates in anthropology and sustainability, they presented at the conference alongside Prof Debbora Battaglia and Prof Benjamin Sovacool who discussed the ethics of aeroponic horticulture and energy policy-making in Europe, respectively, in the two keynote lectures of the event.

Those attending the conference were offered an opportunity to visit the Guardbridge Energy Centre to see the installation of a sustainable district heating system, which will heat the University’s North Haugh campus buildings for the next 50 years.

David Stutchfield, Energy Officer at the University of St Andrews, led the tour of Guardbridge, from the biomass boiler to the wood chipping area (see photos below).

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Inside the Energy Centre

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David Stutchfield describes the retrofitting process for the old coal power station, a listed building which will become office space for University support staff

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Inside the Energy Centre. Biomass boiler (blue, right) will produce the heat for the district heating system whilst the thermal stores (silver, centre) will ensure efficiency is maximised

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Across the Motray Water to the chipping site

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The conference group pause for thought on the Motray Bridge. The old coal power station (immediately behind) and new biomass centre (left) are visible

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David Stutchfield points out the prospective site for the wood chipping equipment

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One last view of the Guardbridge Energy Centre, a key capital project which will help the University become carbon neutral for energy

Thank you to all our delegates and to Dr Mette High and Dr Jessica Smith for organising the conference.

 

 

 

 

Park and pedal – Guardbridge to St Andrews

Everyone is familiar with the benefits of regular exercise. Most obviously, improved cardiovascular fitness, better muscle tone and increased fat burning potential. Not to mention reducing stress and fighting off low mood with those post-exercise feel good endorphins.

It was with these points in mind that I decided to take advantage of Transition’s park and pedal scheme for the duration of the Guardbridge road closure.

For those not in the know, Transition have provided car parking spaces, a new bike shelter and hire bikes at Guardbridge to allow staff, students and members of the public travelling from Dundee to avoid the diversion and complete the Guardbridge to St Andrews leg of their journey by bike.

More information on the park and pedal scheme can be found on the Sustainability section of the website.

I can’t deny that I did have initial reservations, so I made a deal with myself to try it for a week and go back to driving if I really didn’t like it.

One week in and I am pleased to report that I have really enjoyed commuting by bike and plan to continue to do so for the remainder of the road closure (and maybe beyond).

To encourage others to give it a go, I’ve addressed some of my initial concerns below.

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Navigation

This was my primary concern since I had never used the cycle path between Guardbridge and St Andrews before.

Sustrans, the charity responsible for the National Cycle Network, have very clear maps of all major UK cycle paths on their website along with a wealth of cycling related resources that I found very helpful.

For those who are still unsure, Transition are running a series of led rides from Guardbridge to St Andrews for the duration of the road closure. These are free and open to all – so absolutely no excuses!

Energy levels

I was concerned that getting up early and exercising before work (a previously foreign concept to me) would contribute to my usual post-lunch energy slump.

In practice, however, I have found the opposite to be true. Not only do I arrive at the office refreshed and motivated, my energy levels are generally higher throughout the day. The cycle back to Guardbridge in the evening has yet to feel like a struggle and is, in fact, great for blowing away the cobwebs after sitting at my desk all day.

General hassle

The thought of having to pack a bag with my work clothes every morning did initially make me baulk. However, I was forgetting that I normally pack a gym bag every morning and this task was no more onerous.

This leads on to a separate and fairly self-explanatory point about being able to forgo the gym for exercise in the fresh air with a lovely view.

The drawbacks

The only major drawback I’ve experienced is a mild case of helmet hair. Of course, if you decide to take advantage of the University’s shower facilities this will not be of concern to you. Luckily, my team are very encouraging and have promised not to discuss my hair for the next eight weeks.

In sum, I’d encourage everyone to give the park and pedal a shot. I challenge you to try it for a week and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Words by Felicity Wild, digital communications team.

For enquiries, contact transition@st-andrews.ac.uk or tel 01334 46 4000

Road closures necessary as work on Fife Green Energy Centre begins

Residents and workers in North East Fife are being advised to expect travel disruption during early Spring 2016, when major pipe-laying works get underway on the main A919 Guardbridge to St Andrews road.

Fife Council will close the road, from 15 February 2016 to 8 April 2016, to allow 4 miles of water-pipe to be laid, connecting Guardbridge’s new £25 million Green Energy Centre with St Andrews, and providing the essential infrastructure for ongoing inward investment into Fife, job creation, and renewable energy production.

The new Energy Centre is being developed by the University of St Andrews and will pump hot water to St Andrews where it will be used to heat and cool student residences and laboratories.

To ensure safety to road users and to keep disruption to a minimum, diversions will be in place through Balmullo, adding an extra 7.5 miles to journeys north of St Andrews and south of St Michaels.

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Detailed consultation will take place with emergency services, bus operators, local businesses and community representatives and wherever possible the University will ensure that arrangements are in place to minimise the impact on services.

The University’s Chief Operating Officer, Derek Watson, said: “We are very sensitive to the fact that these works will cause varying levels of disruption to people who live or work in the Guardbridge, Leuchars and St Andrews areas, and we are very grateful for the support and consideration  which the community has shown so far as we have developed our plans to establish Guardbridge as a major centre for renewable energy.

“The Guardbridge development represents an investment of £25 million in north east Fife – creating more than 225 jobs in the construction phase alone, supporting apprenticeships, promoting the environment, and re-establishing Guardbridge as a key economic centre.”

Initially, the University had been directed by the Fife roads authorities to undertake the pipe-laying works in October and November this year. Following consultation with councillors however, it became apparent that the road closure might impact on commuting Madras pupils due to sit prelim exams in November.

The University lobbied for permission to undertake the works in January and February 2016 at the quietest time of year for traffic, but has now been informed that the road closures cannot start until February 2016.

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)

Scotland Office Minister visits Guardbridge biomass project

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Lord Dunlop visits Guardbridge Energy Centre

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland Lord Dunlop today (Tuesday August 18) visited the £25 million green energy centre under construction at Guardbridge.

A state-of-the-art biomass facility, using only wood from sustainable local sources, will be built on the site of a former paper mill at Guardbridge and will pump hot water from the plant four miles underground to heat and cool laboratories and student residences in St Andrews.

The green energy centre which is being delivered by St Andrews University will help to regenerate north east Fife by creating more than 225 jobs in the construction phase.

The University has developed the Guardbridge Guarantee as part of the project. This ensures that the project supports apprenticeship and graduate training, creating and sustaining jobs while working with the local community to promote environment and energy projects and local business.

During his visit Lord Dunlop met senior representatives from the University and contractors.

Lord Dunlop said: “This project creates a virtuous circle. It provides jobs and apprenticeships, helping to re-generate north east Fife.

“It will deliver the hot water needed for the University in a green and efficient way and it puts one of Scotland’s oldest universities at the cutting edge of new, sustainable and environmentally friendly technology.”

Spades of potential

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Deputy First Minster John Swinney joined in the official start of construction work on the £25 million University’s green energy centre at Guardbridge this month (Monday 6 July 2015).

A state-of-the-art biomass facility, using only wood from sustainable local sources, will be built on the site of a former paper mill at Guardbridge and which will pump hot water from the plant four miles underground to heat and cool laboratories and student residences in St Andrews.

The green energy centre will help to regenerate north east Fife by creating more than 225 jobs in the construction phase. The University has developed the Guardbridge Guarantee as part of the project. This ensures that the project supports apprenticeship and graduate training, creating and sustaining jobs while working with the local community to promote environment and energy projects and local business.

Mr Swinney met representatives from the University to formally hand the site over to the construction team to start work. Addressing a gathering of St Andrews staff, funders and community representatives, Mr Swinney spoke of the “fantastic, imaginative potential” of the Guardbridge project.

The University’s Chief Operating Officer Derek Watson said:

“The start of construction work at Guardbridge represents a major strategic step for the University. We are committed to becoming carbon neutral for energy and this large industrial site lends itself to the creation of a range of renewable energies which are vital to our efforts to remain one of Europe’s leading research institutions.

“With the biomass at its heart, we believe the diverse range of potential uses at Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife.”

Geothermal energy could heat homes and businesses around Scotland

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A green energy centre in Fife is to investigate the feasibility of heating buildings using warm water recovered from sedimentary rocks deep below the ground. The University of St Andrews, which operates the Guardbridge Energy centre, is lead partner in a Scottish Government funded project to see if geothermal energy can be used to heat homes and businesses around Scotland.

This largely untapped resource could provide significant amounts of renewable heat for Scotland, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a low carbon heat source.

Dr Ruth Robinson, the lead for the geothermal feasibility project at the University of St Andrews, said: “Extracting geothermal heat from sedimentary rocks is similar to getting drinking water out of the ground, except in this case the water is warm enough to be used for heating. This feasibility project will investigate if there is a business case to explore for geothermal heat, and if feasible, the technological developments arising out of this project could be used for similar projects across Scotland.”

The team of collaborators working on the project with the University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences are part of a group called Fife Geothermal, and include the British Geological Survey, Ramboll, Town Rock Energy Ltd, Fife Council, and Resource Efficient Solutions Ltd.

The award to the Guardbridge project has been made from the Scottish Government’s Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund, supported by the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, the first strategic intervention established under the new European Structural Funds programme.

Councillor John Wincott, Sustainability Champion for Fife Council, said: “Reliable, secure and affordable energy is important for Fife both for our communities and for business. Crucially, heat makes up over half the energy we use, so Fife Council is keen to support work to find local sources of renewable heat. Fife looks a good area for geothermal heat – that is basically hot, wet rocks – that could potentially supply the heat source to provide hot water and heating to local homes and businesses. We are therefore delighted to be a member of the Fife Geothermal group, and to be a part of one of only five projects to secure funding from the Scottish Government to investigate opportunities around Guardbridge.”

University of St Andrews Executive Director for Guardbridge, Ian McGrath, said:

“This is an exciting project, the potential to heat buildings from warm water underground is one of many renewable energies being considered for Guardbridge. As one of Europe’s leading research institutions, we encourage innovative concepts in renewable energy and wish Fife Geothermal every success. We believe the diverse range of potential uses for Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife.”

St Andrews University is investing £25 million at the former paper mill at Guardbridge to generate power through clean biomass and pump hot water four miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences.

Alongside plans for a six-turbine wind power development at Kenly to the east of St Andrews, the Guardbridge scheme will support a strategic drive by St Andrews to become the United Kingdom’s first carbon-neutral university.

The University of St Andrews is also a partner in a second Geothermal Energy Challenge Fund project, led by ARUP, that will be centred at the new Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre. At this site, the target heat resource is about 1km underground in one of the city’s famous granites.