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

The Environment Team 2015/2016

The Environment Team 2015/2016

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

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

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

February

Guardbridge Park and Pedal Scheme

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

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March

Green Links Biodiversity Project

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

April

Green Awards

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

August

Adaption to Climate Change

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

September

Freshers’ Week: Welcome to the Green Bubble

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

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Environment Hall Reps

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

interhall

October

Sustainability Manager

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

University Fairtrade Status Renewal

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

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

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

Green Raisin Competition

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

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Environmental Facilitators

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

November

Resource Efficiency

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

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

December

Eden Campus

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

 

 

Green Raisin Competition Huge Success

The Environment Team have partnered with outdoor adventure group Blown Away Experiences, to deliver a hugely successful Green Raisin Competition, which seeks to promote and reward environmentally-friendly behaviour amongst students.

Modern ‘raisin receipts’ have made a departure from traditional Latin parchment once given to academic children and have since gained a reputation for being oversized, unwanted items instead. This has become a problem when it comes to their disposal as they are hard to recycle and contribute to landfill waste.

To combat this waste, students are being encouraged to think about the environmental impact of their receipt and costume efforts. Now in its third year, the Green Raisin Competition encourages academic parents to design their children’s costumes and receipts so that they are made from 12122578_10207943469213463_2715722554013700019_nreused materials, which are light and easily recyclable.

Congratulations to this year’s winning entry which was both creative and gave consideration to its environmental impact. Their ‘dragon’ costume was made entirely of unwanted cardboard boxes gathered from shops around St Andrews, bed sheets from local charity shops and old bamboo canes from their garden. As a reward, the winning family were treated to a kayaking and SUP-ing (stand up paddle boarding) session, courtesy of Blown Away Experiences.

blown away prize croppedThese efforts to engage students with waste reduction were acknowledged at the Public Sector Sustainability Awards, where St Andrews were ‘Highly Commended’ in the Best Waste and Recycling category.

raisin award

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

Raisin Monday: Behind the Scenes

IMG_6798Every autumn, hundreds of first year students get dressed up in a variety of creative costumes by their academic mums, collect a receipt from their academic dads, then participate in a massive shaving foam fight that is broadcast across the world’s press in celebration of the St Andrews tradition that is Raisin Weekend.

In order to make this event run smoothly, a lot of University staff are involved – from the Students’ Association, to Student Services, the Janitors, Grounds staff, and the Environment Team, as well as assistance from Police Scotland. So what does Raisin Monday look like from behind the scenes…?

The morning starts off with a tour of the waste collection locations and Lower College Lawn (the home of this year’s foam fight), before heading into Lower College Hall for a hot cup of coffee and a bacon roll!

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DSC_0450The calm before the (foam) storm…

The janitors and grounds staff receive their briefing, then head out to finish setting up the barriers and man their stations!

DSC_0396John Jardine, Head Janitor, delivers the briefing.

DSC_0444The Grounds staff, ready to recycle!

The Police help control the crowds on North Street, managing the traffic and directing those headed to the foam fight through crowd barriers where they will meet the Environment Team!

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Two large skips are set up behind College Gate, along with glass and food waste bins to help separate the waste from everyone’s raisin receipts.

skipLynsey Smith, Sustainability Officer, ready to collect receipts!

This separation process has led to 2014 being the first ZERO WASTE Raisin Monday, meaning that every receipt collected was able to be recycled! All the waste was collected by the Binn Group and taken to a recycling facility just 30 miles west of St Andrews in Glenfarg. The collected food waste was anaerobically digested, which turns the waste into biogas and biofertiliser, which will be used to produce heat and electricity, and fertilise the fields of Fife! The recovered plastic, cardboard, and wood waste from the receipts was then separated and sent on to be given a new life as (among other things) plastic bottles, fleeces, newspapers, tissue paper, MDF, animal bedding, and biomass fuel.

Not only is this year the first time no waste has been sent to landfill, but it’s also the least waste we’ve ever collected – the receipts weighed under a tonne, when in previous years the receipts have weighed between 3-4 tonnes!

IMG_6802The skip isn’t even half-full!

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It’s always great fun to see the creative costumes and receipts the academic parents come up with…

DSC_0620…the Raisin Express

DSC_0631…a Tunnock’s Teacake

DSC_0744…raisins

DSC_0867…and Buzz Lightyear!

More photos of the costumes can be found in our Raisin Monday Facebook album.

After all the hard work collecting and sorting receipts, we head through to watch the end of the foam fight from the press area, where the world’s media were snapping away, capturing the foamy fun.

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DSC_1031Even the Sabbs aren’t safe from attack…Students’ Association President, Pat Mathewson, gets foamed!

Once people have had enough foam, they exit onto the Scores after a quick hosing down. The Grounds staff then move out to begin the clean up and restore Lower College Lawn to its former (unfoamy!) state.

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We hope you all enjoyed Raisin Monday this year, even with the change in location. In fact, I think a lot of people preferred holding it on the lawn as it allows academic parents access to view the fight from a safe distance to take photographs!

Thanks again for following the Green Raisin Guidelines, and doing your bit to help make this Raisin Monday the greenest one yet…and if you haven’t entered our Green Raisin Competition then send your photos to environment@st-andrews.ac.uk before Monday 27th to be in with a chance of winning a meal for the whole family! Good luck!

(a huge thank you to Amanda Cook for all the photographs!)

How To Have An (Environmentally!) Responsible Raisin

Raisin Weekend is one of the many weird and wonderful traditions that makes St Andrews such a unique and special place to study – not only that, but it’s also loads of fun!

In celebration of the event, and in light of the fact that all Raisin receipts require disposal after they are no longer needed, we’ve developed the following guidelines for constructing environmentally friendly and safe Raisin receipts and costumes to keep Raisin a truly sustainable tradition.

As a thank you for following these guidelines we will be giving away a meal for the entire family at the Doll’s House Restaurant for the most environmentally friendly and creative Raisin receipt and costume. Join the Facebook event here!
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How do I enter the competition?

Post a picture of your academic family with your receipt & costume on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EnvironmentStA, or via email at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk. Include a brief description of how it was made and why it is environmentally friendly. We look forward to seeing your creative ideas!

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How do I design a “green” Raisin costume/receipt?

Use your imagination! The best materials are things that can be recycled e.g. cardboard, wood, plastics, and fabric. Ask around the shops in town to see if they have any cardboard boxes you could use for your costumes/receipts, or have a look in the local charity shops for clothes and accessories for your costumes. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast year’s competition winners with their family of biscuits made from cardboard!

Von Trapp familyAcademic children dressed as the Von Trapp family, with outfits made from an old bed sheet!

good raisin receiptThe Mystery Machine! An example of a good raisin receipt – creative, fun, easily recyclable, and folds up flat so it doesn’t take up much room in the cardboard skip.

Remember, the tradition is based on raisins, which are not big! Keep your receipts to a reasonable size in order to reduce the amount of items taking up space in landfill.

Click here for the full list of our Green Raisin Guidelines.

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Additional advice

– October in Scotland can be very cold and wet – please make sure you dress your academic children appropriately!

– Raisin parties often result in a large amount of glass bottles…make sure to recycle these bottles at your nearest glass recycling point.

– Please be aware that due to logistical reasons, you will be required to remove parts of your costume that are not integral before you enter the quad so anything that you are carrying (apart from your shaving foam) including, but not limited to, cardboard, hats, props, and very bulky or pointy items will be removed and recycled. Therefore, please be aware that Estates are unable to keep or return items.

– If you arrive with a receipt that the University cannot dispose of (e.g. electrical goods, livestock, foam filled furniture, or excessively large items) we’re afraid you’ll be turned away at the Quad, miss the foam fight, and will be charged for the cost of disposal of the item.

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That’s the serious stuff out the way – just stick to the rules and you’ll be guaranteed to have a great time! Have fun, look after yourselves (and each other), and don’t forget to submit your photos after the big day – we’ll be accepting entries until 27th October.

P.S. If you’ve ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at the foam fight then click here to find out!

Raisin Green Guide

** Update: 1st place prize for Green Raisin competition wins a meal for them and their academic family at The Doll’s House! Join event here http://goo.gl/Kj1foT **

Did you know that Raisin Weekend is so called because academic children traditionally gave their mother a present of a pound of raisins to thank her for the weekend’s festivities? In response, academic parents gave a ‘receipt’ for their gift which has developed into the humorous receipts we see given today!

In the spirit of this tradition, and in light of the fact that all Raisin receipts require disposal after they are no longer needed, we’ve developed the below guidelines for constructing environmentally friendly and safe Raisin receipts and costumes to keep Raisin a truly sustainable tradition.

In appreciation for following these guidelines we will be giving away a prize for the most environmentally friendly and creative Raisin receipt and costume awarded to your academic family (to be judged by our Energy and Environment Officers).

How do I enter the competition?

Post a picture of you and your academic parents with your receipt & costume on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EnvironmentStA, or via email at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk. Include a brief description of how it was made and why it is environmentally friendly. We look forward to seeing your creative ideas!

How do I design a “green” Raisin receipt?

Do REUSE unwanted materials such as cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, or old clothes.
Design SMALLER receipts that are not overly heavy and take up large amounts of space (eg avoid bicycles and mattresses).
Use materials that are EASILY RECYCLABLE such as paper and cardboard, plastics, wood, and textiles.
Avoid Buying large amounts of NEW materials which will end up in the skip after one day.
Using HIGH VALUE items such as electronic equipment.
Using FOOD products as they contaminate recyclate.
Do not Use DEAD animal carcasses as these will be confiscated (see below).
Use GLASS as this can be hazardous.
Use STOLEN materials (this includes waste taken from skips) as you can face police and/or academic discipline (see below)
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A poor raisin receipt that is dangerous, not easily recyclable and questionably sourced.
good raisin receipt

A good raisin receipt that is creative and easily recyclable.

Please also keep in mind the follow rules for Raisin receipts and costumes:

Rules for receipts

  • No electrical goods.
  • No livestock (dead or alive).
  • No foam-filled furniture.
  • Nothing too big.  Remember this is based on Raisins.  Raisins are not big.  We have to try to stop filling up landfills so think creatively, artistically, be original and think about the environment.

If you disregard the above – we’re afraid you’ll be turned away at the Quad, miss the foam fight, and will be charged for the cost of disposal of your inappropriate item.

Rules for costumes & props

Due to logistical reasons, you will be required to remove parts of your costume that are not integral before you enter the quad so anything that you are carrying (apart from your shaving foam) including, but not limited to, cardboard, hats, props, and very bulky or pointy items will be removed and recycled. Therefore, please be aware we are unable to keep or return items.

Please remember to wear appropriate clothing underneath your costumes as November in Scotland can be very cold and wet. Academic parents, please be aware of this and design accordingly.

We also know that you all put a lot of effort into your costumes so please make sure you take photographs to enter the competition before joining the procession. For inspiration and a behind-the-scenes perspective on how Raisin gets cleaned up, see our blog post from 2011: http://environmentsta.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/behind-the-scenes-at-raisin/