MUSA: Sustainability in Practice

The University of St Andrews is well known for its research and teaching in Sustainable Development, but it’s not just the students that are benefitting from the University’s commitment to sustainability. As one of the most publicly accessible University buildings, the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA), is extending the sustainability teaching beyond the classroom by showcasing its eco-credentials to the general public.

P1060479 The Museum of the University of St Andrews

First opened in 2008 to display the treasures of the last 600 years of the University, MUSA has worked from the very beginning to ensure that these precious historical collections are housed in a way that is as sustainable as possible. As the chosen location for the museum is a coach house from the 1860s, and a grade 2 listed building, certain restrictions were in place when planning the extension to the gallery space. The requirements of the collections were also taken into consideration during the planning process, and a pitched roof was added into the design in order to accommodate a large stained-glass window.


 The large, stained-glass window on display.

As luck would have it, this roof design is ideal for hosting solar panels, which are used to provide power for the lights and lift in the building. The panels are easily viewed from the rooftop terrace (along with a stunning view of West Sands beach), and are accompanied by a graphic panel explaining the energy saving measures in place at MUSA, as well as an energy display meter. The roofing slates were recycled from another building, and the majority of materials used in this development were also locally sourced to further reduce the footprint of this extension.


Solar panels and energy display meter.

The museum’s commitment to sustainability has not impacted on the care of the exhibits inside, on the contrary, some of the energy-saving measures in place actually help protect the collections! The ground source heat pump extracts heat from the rock beneath the car park through three 67m deep boreholes, then heats the galleries via underfloor coils. This method of heat distribution not only saves 9 tonnes of COannually, but also ensures heating is evenly distributed throughout the building, preventing the formation of “hotspots”, and meaning artworks can be hung anywhere on the gallery walls. Likewise, the use of low energy LED bulbs are not only more economical, but also prevent the build up of heat within display cases.


Visitor’s information panel on MUSA’s renewable energy.

On top of these large-scale measures, MUSA also keeps an up-to-date green noticeboard, organises green family-orientated events for the local community, and grows its own fruit in the front courtyard. From these efforts, it is clear to see why the museum achieved such a high rating in the Green Tourism Awards. MUSA is a shining example of sustainability in practice in St Andrews, and thoroughly deserve their gold award.

Click here for more information about visiting MUSA.

Gold Green Tourism Award for MUSA

The Museum of the University of St Andrews, more commonly referred to as “MUSA”,  recently received a visit from the Green Tourism Award assessors. We’ve been waiting with baited breath since July to hear the result, and can now proudly announce that they’ve been awarded a GOLD!

This is a fantastic achievement, and highlights the University’s commitment to environmental excellence and sustainability in practice. With a whole host of eco-credentials, including solar panels, a fantastic selection of green community outreach events, and a ground source heat pump (more on these in the next blog post!) it’s great to see these efforts being recognised for their impacts on sustainable tourism in St Andrews.

P1060479MUSA joins three halls of residence which also hold a Gold Green Tourism Award: Macintosh Hall, Agnes Blackadder Hall, and David Russell & Fife Park Apartments. The Environment Team was very excited to receive the news of yet another Gold Award, and hope this will encourage other local tourist attractions to become certified!

Look out for our next post which will showcase MUSA’s energy saving measures!

 To learn more about the Green Tourism Business Scheme click here.

Meet the Interns Part 3: Elena Skyfta

It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming our interns into the office, but now their internships are complete and they are free to enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

All three of our summer interns did a fantastic job on their respective projects, and the work they completed was of an outstanding quality. We’re going to miss having them around, but wish them all the best of luck for the upcoming academic year, and hope they’ll pop back to say hello every now and again.

So, without further ado, I have the pleasure of presenting our final intern: Elena Skyfta!


Name: Elena Skyfta
Where are you from?:
Athens, Greece
Internship Title:
Web Design Intern
Degree and year of study:
Biochemistry (entering 4th year)

Give a brief snapshot of your role:
My role was to restructure the web pages of the University of St Andrews Environment Team to make it more user friendly, and bring all the information up to date.

What attracted you to this internship with the Environment Team?
It was a great opportunity for me to further improve my web design skills whilst learning about all the environmental projects that the University runs. I believe that by improving the Environment Team’s website, more students and staff will be able to find ways to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

What have you learned/what skills have you acquired?
I have gained a lot from this internship. My organisation skills were greatly improved since it was very challenging to organise all the information included in the website in the most user-friendly way. Moreover, my team-working skills were key for this internship as I had to collect invaluable information for the website from a number of people who specialise in various fields.

How does this internship fit into your future career plans?
This internship helped me improve my IT skills which is going to be a great asset in pursuing my future career in bioinformatics.

Share one tip for sustainable living that you wish more students would adopt:
I hope that more students will minimise their food waste by changing small things in their lifestyle, like planning their meals ahead of time.

You can check out our redesigned website at

Big Butterfly Count 2014 – Diversity on your doorstep!

Every year, Butterfly Conservation carry out a nationwide survey – the “Big Butterfly Count” – of British butterfly species to monitor the populations of different species and assess the health of the environment.

Of course, they can’t do this alone, so people are encouraged to get outdoors and take just 15 minutes to look around themselves and note down which butterfly species they see, and to submit their results online.

We decided to do our bit and headed out into Albany Park Community Garden on our lunch break to see what we could spot…


Thankfully the Big Butterfly Count provides a handy ID guide, so even the most inexperienced butterfly spotters can get involved!


We counted eight green-veined white butterflies (Pieris napi) (above) and three large white butterflies (Pieris brassicae).

Determined to find more species, our web intern, Elena, carried out another survey at her house near Pittenweem and found an additional three species to those found in Albany Park:

Red Admiral (2)

Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock Butterflies

Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and Peacock (Inachis io) butterflies.

It’s amazing to see how much diversity you can find if you just take a few moments to stop and look for it! The survey is very quick and easy to complete, so why not do your own survey outside your workplace in your lunch break, or in your garden with the kids this weekend?

The Big Butterfly Count is logging sightings until 10th August, so what are you waiting for?! Get out there and discover the diversity waiting for you on your very own doorstep!


Temporary Park and Cycle – Beat the queues and get fit!

Temporary Park and Cycle
– Guardbridge to St Andrews, Saturday 2nd August to 18th August 2014

Finance staff piloting the new Park & Cycle scheme

Staff will be aware of the travel delays that will be caused by imminent roadworks at the bridge crossing of the River Eden, Guardbridge. The University understands that the works will be for two weeks from Saturday 2nd August 2014 to Monday 18th August 2014. During this two week period, a temporary park and cycle facility will be established at the University’s Guardbridge site, Monday to Friday of each week. The system will work as follows:

Car Parking

Staff can park their cars in the open, unfenced car park owned by the University, located on Main Street, just past the Mill Clock on the right hand side as you come from Leuchars. The car park is directly adjacent to the National Cycle Path that leads to St Andrews. The cycle path will not be affected by the roadworks as it crosses the River Eden using the old road bridge and the Old St Andrews Road. The cycle journey takes between 20 and 30 minutes – ish! The attached plan shows the location of the car park, the cycle route and the cycle parking.

Staff can of course take their bikes home with them if their cars are equipped for easy transport of bikes.

Cycle Parking

Staff can make use of two cycle racks that have been provided in the ‘lean-to’ covered shed which is located through the main entrance of the main Guardbridge site just beyond the site office portakabin. For operational reasons, cycle parking will be strictly available between 8am and 6pm during the two weeks of the road works. Before and after these times, the main site gates are closed. So staff will only be able to retrieve and deposit bikes between 8am and 6pm sharp. Cycles should be securely locked by their owner.

MapGuardbridge – Park & Cycle Map



CCTV cameras are in operation but as always, cycles must be securely locked and the University cannot be held responsible for any theft of or damage to cycles, equipment or vehicles located in the shed or in the car park.


Contact Roddy Yarr, Environment and Energy Manager, x3995; try@