Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews

On the 24th and 25th of April Go St Andrews held its launch event and tour of St Andrews University’s campus. Go St Andrews is a new hub for sustainable transport information in and around St Andrews. This initiative is a collaboration between Fife Council, Transport Scotland, Transition University of St Andrews, BID St Andrews, and partners. The website aims to deliver clear and concise information on all the sustainable transport options in and around St Andrews, aiming to build up a community of people who choose to take modes of transport that will decrease their carbon footprint.

On the 24th April representatives from Sustrans, Cycle Solutions, Cycling UK Scotland, Chariots of Hire, Cyclepath, E-Car, Liftshare, St Andrews Park Run, Transition University of St Andrews, St Andrews Space for Cycling and Cycle Fife came to Market Street to increase awareness of the different resources available to them across the town and gown. Due to high winds we had to shut up earlier than expected, however we were pleased by the encouraging amount of people who came to ask questions and give us suggestions of what they would like to see happen in St Andrews.

As a result of the launch of Go St Andrews we hope to see an increase in the number of people who are interested in taking different forms of transport to reduce their impact on the environment and those who are aware of the huge variety of options available to them in and around St Andrews. The website covers areas including walking, running, cycling, carshare, E – Car, buses, trains and fun ideas for local day trips. If you see something missing or would like a new tab opened please get in touch with your ideas.

A huge congratulations to the team at Transition St Andrews University and everyone else involved who have been working hard over the past couple of months to launch this fantastic new website. Go check it out now at http://www.gostandrews.org/.

If you have any questions about transport in and around St Andrews please do not hesitate to contact us.

Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews.

F: facebook.com/gostandrews/

T: twitter.com/gostandrews

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.

 

 

 

 

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)

Top Energy Saving Tips

10919460_756276734463586_7398227301080169715_oThe results from the first half of the Interhall Energy Competition are in, with Andrew Melville, McIntosh, and Uni Hall leading the way in energy reductions, winning extra money for their hall committees and boosting their position in the Hall Champions League.

If your hall is struggling to keep up (or you’re trying to keep your bills down in private accommodation), read on for some tips that might help you turn the tables in semester 2!

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  • Try not to have your window open and the heating on at the same time. Ventilate the room when you are not using it instead.
  • Keep your radiators clear of furniture – it will absorb the heat.
  • Close your curtains at dusk to shut out the night and keep in the heat.
  • Turn your thermostat down by one degree – you probably won’t even notice the difference!
  • Close doors to keep the heat in.
  • Cosy up at bedtime and turn your heating down at night whilst snug in your duvet.

 

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  • Switch off lights in empty rooms.
  • Switch your appliances (such as laptops and TVs) off  and unplug them rather than leaving them on standby.
  • Towel dry your hair so you don’t have to use your hairdryer as much.
  • Try not to leave phones or other items charging overnight – a few hours are usually all that’s needed.
  • Watch your favourite TV shows with friends – it’s more social, and means you’re only using energy to power one TV!

 

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  • Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need each time you boil it‌.
  • Cook with lids on pans and match ring size to saucepan size – this will also cook your food faster!
  • Try to avoid cooking in the oven and instead use other ways of cooking such as boiling, stir frying, or grilling, in order to save energy.
  • You can use a microwave instead of the oven for fresh food too. They’re quick, easy and economical to use and they’re handy if people in your hall eat at different times. For example, jacket potatoes take just five minutes in the microwave instead of an hour in the oven!
  • If you do need to use the oven, get your friends round to cook at the same time, or cook big batches of food together and freeze what you don’t need that day. It’s more energy efficient to use all the oven space available.
  • Try not to open the oven door while you are cooking. Keep the glass clean and you can peek in when you need to!
  • When cooking vegetables, use just enough water to cover the food.
  • Load and unload the fridge as quickly as possible – try not to leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to!
  • Never put hot food in a fridge or freezer. Let it cool first.

 

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Your dishes…

  • If you need to pre-rinse dishes, do it in cold water instead of hot.
  • If you’re washing dishes in the sink, use a bowl or sink full of water rather than leaving the hot tap running.
  • If you have a dishwasher, wait until you have a full load before putting it on, and use your dishwashers’ economy programme whenever possible.

Your clothes…

  • Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine – why not combine your washing load with someone else?
  • Use a lower washing temperature (between 30 -40oC), as 90% of the energy used in washing machines comes from heating the water.
  • Use a clothes horse to dry your clothes instead of using a tumble dryer.

Yourself!

  • Taking shorter showers means there is less energy used to heat the water.

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Remember to ask your Hall Environment Rep if there are any upcoming events or campaigns you can assist with – energy saving is a team effort!

Image credit: The Green Age

We’ve gone electric…will you?

Wee Green Machine at Library

Ever seen our “Wee Green Machine” driving around town? It has been used by the University’s Grounds Team since 2009, and is soon to be joined by two brand new electric vans! Once delivered in a few weeks time, all the University’s mail and catering will be delivered with a little help from some clean, green energy.

To coincide with the expansion of our fleet of electric vehicles (EVs), three new dual socket EV charging points have been installed at the Bute Building, David Russell Apartments, and Agnes Blackadder Hall, and are available for all staff and students to use for FREE!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook out for posts like these popping up on campus!

Although two of the six available charging spaces will be used to serve the University’s mail and catering vans, the other spaces are freely available for use by any member of the University community in line with our strategic commitment to reducing transport carbon emissions.

All you need to do to use one of the charging points is to register for a “charging card” to enable access to the charging facilities with provider Charge Your Car here.

If you’ve never considered going electric before, why not check out our interview with PhD student and long-term EV convert, Euan, to get the lowdown on what it’s like to drive one, and keep up to date on the latest EV news and reviews over at EV Association Scotland.

Hall vs Hall – Interhall Energy Competition and the Champion’s League

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Now that you’re all settled into your halls of residence, hopefully you’ll have discovered that the St Andrews residences come with a great deal of hall pride. What better way to show off this hall spirit than by pitting each hall against each other in a fierce (but friendly) competition!?

I am, of course, talking about the Interhall Energy Competition – a chance for halls to compete to win £150 for their committee’s funds each month by making the most energy savings relative to their target. The target is set based on how much energy your hall used that month in previous years, and adjusted to take account of any improvements that have been made (such as installing low energy lights or boiler improvements).

So how can you help your hall win?

– Turn lights out when you leave the room (or if the sun comes out!)
– Switch off electrical appliances when you have finished using them
– Don’t over fill the kettle if you’re only making one cuppa
– Put on a jumper (or a suitably cool alternative!)
– Turn radiators off if you open a window
– Participate in energy reduction activities organised by your hall’s Environment Rep
– Check out our list of even more helpful tips on how to reduce your energy consumption in halls

How can you check your progress?

– View your hall’s energy consumption LIVE
– Like the Interhall Energy Competition Facebook Page to check the monthly results

hall champions leagueIt’s not all about energy though…

On top of the Interhall Energy Competition results, the Hall Sports League and Hall Charities Competition results are combined to produce the Hall Champion’s League – a way of rewarding halls for not only their performance, but also their participation.

Points are awarded to your hall for raising money, saving energy, and winning games, but points are also awarded for halls which host a lot of charitable events, run environmental campaigns, and enter teams into sports fixtures. It’s not all about winning after all!

At the end of the year the hall with the most cumulative points for charititable fundraising, energy saving, and sports success is presented with the Hall Champion’s League trophy, and the satisfaction of knowing their hall is the best!

If you want to find out more about the Interhall Energy Challenge (or the Hall Champion’s League) then get in touch by emailing interhall@st-andrews.ac.uk, or tweet us on our shiny new Twitter account: @interhallenergy

Creative Engineering students visit Guardbridge & Kenly

This summer, 24 students from the South China University of Technology are visiting St Andrews to take part in a three-week long course on “Creativity in Engineering”, which has a stong focus on renewables and sustainable energy practices. At the end of their three weeks, the students must present their ideas for how the University of St Andrews can reduce its non-renewable energy usage, and help us reach our ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2016!

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To help them out, David and Roddy from the Environment Team gave a presentation last week on the measures to reduce energy consumption, and the various micro and macro renewable projects that are currently ongoing within the University. The main two projects are the community wind project at Kenly Farm, and the biomass district heating project at Guardbridge, with students being offered the chance to visit these sites as part of their day out with the Environment Team.

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First up was Guardbridge, located four miles west of St Andrews, and home to a disused paper mill. During our visit the students learned more about the history of the mill, and how the existing structures are going to be integrated into the new biomass energy centre to make it as sustainable as possible.

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Using locally procured chipped wood, the new biomass boiler will annually produce 34.3 GWh of heat which will then be pumped to St Andrews via a 6km long pipeline to heat our buildings, saving 8,000 tonnes of carbon compared to our current heating process!

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After a quick tour of the buildings we headed over to Kenly Farm, a piece of land that has been owned by the university for the last 600 years, and was once home to an airfield. Although the 6 turbines have not yet been built, it was very clear that this will be an excellent site for them based on the winds we experienced on our visit! These turbines will allow the university to take control of its energy production and reduce its carbon emissions by a further 19,000 tonnes per year, bringing us even closer to carbon neutrality.

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 The students were really engaged with the topic of renewables, and asked many articulate and insightful questions throughout our day together. Needless to say, we were very impressed with their knowledge on the subject, and can’t wait to see what they come up with for their project proposals at the end of the course!

 To find out more about Guardbridge and Kenly, check out our videos here and here.

What Happens To Our Food Waste?

The environment team visits the anaerobic digestor that turns our food waste into biogas

“Like a stomach”… is how our guide, Alan, describes the anaerobic digestion process that is used to break down our food waste into biogas, liquid fertilizer and nutrient-rich compost.

Standing next to the tall, twin vessel AD (anaerobic digestion) plant operated by TEG in Glenfarg, on the border of Fife and Perth and Kinross councils, I listen as Alan elaborates. He explains how organic matter – our potato peelings and plate scrapings – are broken down by anaerobic bacteria under controlled temperatures in much the same way food is processed in our stomachs. If the AD plant is not ‘fed’ properly (eg, with food waste with too high a carbon content) the process will be disrupted. Yes, I get it, like a stomach!

It takes only 60 days for food waste to be processed in this way starting from the time of collection at recycling points across the University of St Andrews, to the electricity generated and sent straight to the grid by using the biogas to power a generator. With the anaerobic process monitored and controlled to produce a constant supply of 40-65% rich CH4 (methane) gas, which would otherwise have escaped from a landfill site if not recovered, our food waste is being utilised as a clean energy resource. Now that’s impressive!

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A view of the twin anaerobic digestors which are responsible for the natural break down of food waste and capture of biogas.

Here at the University we’ve been composting our raw (uncooked) food waste in a small in-vessel composter, affectionately known as “Hamish”, since 2007. Now, as of January 1st 2014, TEG’s AD plant processes the remaining food waste from our student catered halls, our retail outlets and delivered catering in special green collection bins. This is in line the with the Waste Scotland regulations that stipulate all businesses must recycle food waste produced, prepared or distributed in excess of 50 kg per week by catering units.

Recycle your food waste in these specially marked green bins. For full details of what can and cannot be recycled, please visit X.

Recycle your food waste in these specially marked green bins. For full details of what can and cannot be recycled, please visit our recycling webpages.

TEG’s massive twin-chambered AD plant is rather unique. Designed to collect a wide range of food waste  – including meat products – TEG was the 1st plant licensed for operation after the foot & mouth scandal which saw much stricter legislation come into effect in 2003. Since then, TEG has been well underway converting the food we chuck out into useful natural bi-products. These include nutrient rich compost and liquid fertiliser for use by local farms, as well as biogas for generating electricity.

We visited the site in early January to see exactly how an anaerobic digestion system works.

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A simplified version of the anaerobic digestion process.

The process begins when food waste is collected here in St Andrews by special food waste collection vehicles. The food waste then travels a mere 26 miles to TEG’s plant located in Glenfarg at the edge of Fife where it undergoes de-packaging and pre-treatment. This is when any unwanted plastic, metal, or other non-food materials are screened and sent through their own recycling systems. At this point, it is absolutely crucial that any non-food items are kept out of the AD process. Glass, cutlery and fabric clothe are notable offenders that can severely damage the pre-screening machinery – ever more reason to make sure we only dispose of food waste in the correct collection bins!

Rather than ending up in a Fife Council landfill near Ladybank, our food waste is transported to TEG's recycling facilities located just 26 miles away.

Rather than ending up in a Fife Council landfill near Ladybank, our food waste is transported to TEG’s recycling facilities located just 26 miles away.

After pre-screening is complete the food waste enters two large containers where the anaerobic digestion process occurs. In this oxygen-less environment, food waste is churned around in a digestive “soup”, where it is broken down by natural bacteria and releases gases that rise to the surface. These gases are then collected and stored in an expandable gas holder for later use as fuel for powering an electric generator.

The “soup” which is still inside the anaerobic containers is then pumped through a pasteurisation system and separated into dry and wet components. Dry components are mixed with garden waste and aged as nutrient-rich compost. Wet components are stored as liquid biofertiliser and sold to local farms as an alternative to petrochemical fertilisers.

In the end, the nutrient and calorific values of ordinary food waste is converted into three highly useful products without producing any further environmentally damaging outputs. No further pollution or un-used waste sent to landfill. Now that is worth being excited about! 

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Food waste is pre-screened before entering the anaerobic digestion system.

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Plastics are removed and sent to recycling facilities located just down the road.

After completion of the anaerobic digestion process, biogas is collected in an expandable container.

After completion of the anaerobic digestion process, biogas is collected in an expandable container.

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Liquid contents are separated and sold to local farmers as a liquid biofertiliser alternative to petrochemical fertilisers (seen here at the pumping station).

Dry matter can be seen here on it's way to maturation in a storage building where it will become high grade garden compost.

Dry matter can be seen here on it’s way to maturation in a storage building where it will become high grade garden compost.

A view of the nearby plastic, metal, and paper recycling facilities which sort and bale these resources for future use.

A view of the nearby plastic, metal, and paper recycling facilities which sort and bale these resources for future use.

It’s sobering to remember that this process all begins back home in our kitchens and halls of residence. We can improve this cycle of reusing food waste in a local, environmentally friendly way by following these 3 simple reminders.

  1. Think before you toss out uneaten food. Can this be used as leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch? Do I need to plan my portion sizes smaller?
  2. Plan before you shop. Don’t buy too much before you can reasonably eat it before the sell by date.
  3. Read directions. Please, please, please only put food waste into the food waste bins! Take a closer look at the instructions for what can and cannot be place in the bins, and ask if your uncertain.

For more information about reducing food waste and healthy cooking visit Love Food Hate Waste, Transition UOSA Cooksmarter and Fife Diet websites.

For more information relating to the recycling facilities provided at the University, please visit our waste and recycling pages.

Students Tour Future Guardbridge Biomass Energy Centre

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The Guardbridge site includes many former buildings used in the paper milling process which will be converted into a biomass energy centre.

Today we led over a dozen interested students on a special tour of the former Guardbridge paper mill, which is set to host one of the University’s two new macro scale renewable energy installations, the Guardbridge Biomass Energy Centre.

The second macro renewables project is Kenly Wind Farm which was recently given approval in October, 2013.

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Dr Roddy Yarr explains plans for the site before leading students around existing buildings.

The Guardbridge site, located just 4 miles from St Andrews, is a former industrial paper mill which closed its doors in 2008. Soon after, the University purchased the site with designs for creating a biomass energy plant in order to reduce rising carbon emissions and ever increasing energy rates.

The biomass plant, currently in the design stage, will burn woodchips from the undesirables left after commercial logging sourced locally within a 50km radius. Woodchips, which absorb CO2 during their lifecycles, are burned in a boiler to heat hot water. The hot water is then pumped from Guardbridge to the University’s North Haugh campus, with only a small percentage of heat loss along the way within the insulated piping. From there the hot water is integrated into the current heating systems to provide warmth to all University buildings in that area.

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Students saw how the biomass plant is to be fuelled from local sources of renewable waste timber, which is chipped before entering the boiler.

Students were led on a walking tour through the old paper mill buildings conducted by the University’s Environment and Energy Manager, Dr Roddy Yarr. The group saw live wood chipping as part of a noise test for the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) associated with planning permissions.

Dr Roddy Yarr helped explain how these facilities – once complete – will not only provide renewable energy directly to the University, but will also support the local timber industry and farmers, and set a precedent for other University and public sector bodies by demonstrating how an ambitious carbon neutral plan can be achieved in practice.

Judging by the success of today’s tour we are considering running another tour in semester 2 for those still interested in learning about the project up close. You can register your interest by email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk – we will be in touch with further updates.

Logs of little use for making timber products are perfect for chipping and fuelling a biomass plant.

Logs of little use for making timber products are perfect for chipping and fuelling a biomass plant.

Check out additional student coverage of the tour below.

The Saint feature article: http://www.thesaint-online.com/2013/11/estates-shows-the-the-saint-around-the-universitys-guardbridge-energy-centre/

The Conscious Student blog: http://theconsciousstudent.com/2013/11/21/a-tour-of-the-guardbridge-biomass-plant-site/

Interhall Energy Competition 2013/14

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Energy data

Graph showing one-month energy data (Albany Park) which is used to determine the monthly winners of the competition – can you spot the peak in energy consumed over each 24hr period?

For the past 7 years, the students and staff of St Andrews have been doing their part to reduce the energy consumed in student accommodation via the Inter-Hall Energy Competition. The combined actions of 3,500 students really can make a big difference to our carbon footprint  where over 7,500 tonnes of carbon were associated with Halls’ energy consumption in 2012/13 alone.

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Click to view the 7,510 tonnes of carbon associated with halls’ energy consumption in 2012/13

How does it work? Each hall has a monthly target energy consumption which is based on how much energy was used that month in previous years. We are now recording gas and water in addition to electricity consumption this year. The hall that makes the most savings relative to their target each month wins £150 towards their hall committee funds – this means the only thing stopping your hall from winning month after month is how well the other halls are doing!

How do I help my hall win? Your hall environment rep will be able to point out ways you can save energy and water in your particular hall. These general actions are always a good start:

  • Turn lights out when you leave the room (or if the sun comes out!)
  • Switch off electrial appliances when you have finished using them
  • Don’t over fill the kettle if you only want 1 drink
  • Put on a jumper or other warm clothes
  • Turn radiators off if you open a window
  • Use less water while washing up; report taps that keep running when turned off

How is my hall doing? View your hall’s realtime energy consumption here on our online energy monitors. Your environment reps have access to an interactive energy data system that allows for a better understanding of the peak energy times during the week. Also, make sure to like the Facebook Page where we will post the monthly results and winners.

Email the St Andrews Environmental Network at info@standrewsenergy.org

What if I live in a private flat? That’s great, you will get to keep all the savings you make, through lower bills. Have a look at the Energy Saving Trust website for some hints and tips. More help is at hand from our partners, St Andrews Environmental Network (StAndEN), who can pop round to your flat to carry our an energy audit (it’s free) and offer you tailored advice.

Energy use is a massive part of the solution to climate change but there are a lot more benefits that being energy efficient can bring you. Students can save money, keep warm and increase comfort and wellbeing. Get involved with the most active environmental group in St Andrews, Transition, to make an even greater difference to community sustainability.

To see what the University is already doing about reducing energy consumption across all buildings and departments view their Environment and Sustainability pages here.