Scotland Office Minister visits Guardbridge biomass project

St_Andrews_Dunlop_AR

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.”

Meet your new Sustainability Officer Intern

This week we welcome George King into the Environment Team as this year’s Sustainability Officer Intern.

George has recently graduated from the School of Geography and Sustainable Development with the University of St Andrews and is keen to apply his degree by getting stuck into projects t11807407_10155838635200494_9150909643641792920_o-204x402hat Lynsey Smith, the previous Sustainability Intern, has worked hard on throughout the year. Lynsey’s efforts are greatly appreciated by the Environment team, other members of staff and students across the University and we all wish her the best for the future!

George will build on these efforts by focusing on outreach, engagement and communication with staff and students, whilst also supporting University sustainability initiatives, such as Transition. He will also support the other members of the Environment Team: David Stutchfield and Barbara Aitken on their exciting projects, which include the Environmental Facilitators Network, recycling schemes and implementing the renewable energy park at Guardbridge to help fulfil the University’s goal of becoming carbon neutral, in energy, by 2016!

Stay up-to-date with the Environment Team’s work via Facebook and follow us on Twitter @EnvironmentStA.

Get in touch with George by dropping an email to gdk2@st-andrews.ac.uk.

St Andrews – A Sustainable Open

Creating a Sustainable Open

This week The Open 2015 comes to St Andrews, welcoming the world’s best golfers and over 200,000 spectators for one of the year’s biggest sporting events. A big challenge for the organisers is making sure that an event of this size is as sustainable as possible…so how do they do it?

The Open 2015 venue, St Andrews Links, holds golfs global ecolabel, GEO certified®, and the event itself operates a “GreenLinks” programme for sustainable development, making sure that the natural environment around the courses is protected, that sustainable procurement practices are used, and that waste is disposed of responsibly. The GreenLinks programme is mentored by GEO (The Golf Environment Organization).

Visitors are encouraged to travel to the event by public transport or by car share in order to reduce the carbon footprint of their journey. Once on the Links, they will be reminded to keep to the official walkways to avoid trampling and damaging habitats, and will be provided with designated recycling points to allow waste to be segregated on site, diverting it away from landfill.

Scottish producers will be supplying The Open’s food, ensuring a sustainable menu by keeping produce local to reduce food miles. Items that cannot be sourced locally (e.g. tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas) will be Fairtrade to ensure that growers receive a fair wage for their produce, as well as a premium that is invested back into their local community.

As well as this, the management of the golf courses themselves will ensure that they remain important habitats for many important species of flora and fauna that have a year-round home in St Andrews. By tending to the gorse, heather, and grassland that borders the Links courses, their growth is kept in check to ensure a diversity of wildlife can thrive – from brown hare, stoats, and weasels, to skylark, goldfinches, and barn owls. Grass clippings and gorse chippings are then composted and given away for free by The Links Trust, returning this vegetation to the soil. The Links Trust also run a fantastic Environmental Blog, where you can stay up to date on wildlife sightings on the courses.

The commitment from The Open to deliver a sustainable event is clear to see. If you’re heading to the Old Course this week have a fantastic time – enjoy the local food, drink lots of Fairtrade coffee, and be sure to keep an eye out for native species hiding in the rough!

_________

Be sure to check out the map of the Old Course, which highlights where wildlife can be seen at The Open.

For more information about wildlife management on the Links, download the Links Environmental Conservation Leaflet.

Spades of potential

19280657570_a3edf613f2_z

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.”

Meet the 2015 Interns – Eloise Cotton

Continuing our “Meet the Interns” series, this week we’d like to introduce you to our second and final intern this summer, Eloise Cotton:

Eloise CottonName: Eloise Cotton
Where are you from?: Chicago
Internship title: EcoCampus Intern
Degree and year of study: BSc in Sustainable Development (entering 4th year)

 Give a brief snapshot of your role:
I am working on developing a business case for the EcoCampus scheme, a tool created for the Higher Education system to help with the implementation of an environmental management system. I am also performing a gap analysis to determine which areas the University needs to concentrate resources on.

What attracted you to this internship with the Environment Team?
I believe University is not only a place of academic learning but also a place where students form their lifelong behaviors. I was attracted to this internship because it involves assessing what the University is currently and planning on doing to be more environmentally conscious and ultimately shaping student’s behaviors.

What have you learned/what skills have you acquired so far from the internship?
I have so far learned a wide range of skills by working with the Environment Team and EcoCampus. I have created a legal register, drafted an environmental policy and various procedures, determined aspects and impacts, created management structures and conducted a baseline environmental review of the University’s practice.

How does this internship fit into your future career plans?
I am still exploring which part of the vast Sustainable Development sector that I want to work in. This internship will help me see if I am interested in working within institutions and helping improve environmental policies and goals.

Share one tip for sustainable living that you wish more students would adopt:
Never purchasing a plastic bag even if you forget to bring your own bag (you can carry a surprising amount by getting creative).

____________

Click here to meet our Travel Carbon Intern, Richard, and check out the projects last year’s interns (Dominyka, Daihachi, and Elena) worked on last summer!

Meet the 2015 Interns – Richard Adams

Following the success of last year’s internships, the Environment Team have taken on two more interns to work on various projects with us this summer. It’s great having some new faces in the office, so we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce them to readers of our blog so you can find out a bit more about what they’ve been working on! First up is our Travel Carbon Intern, Richard:

Richard Adams

Name: Richard Adams
Where are you from?: I’m from Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England.
Internship Title: Travel Carbon Intern
Degree and year of study: I’ve just finished my second year studying Geography.

Give a brief snapshot of your role:
My job is to take the data acquired from various sources through which the university books its business travel arrangements and use it to extrapolate a CO2 estimate from it. I am also using the staff and student survey data to estimate the emissions associated with commuting to/from the university and finally looking at how the current systems for gathering this data can be improved to make future estimates more accurate and streamlined.

What attracted you to this internship with the Environment Team?
I wanted to gain experience working within the environmental sector and doing real-world work, building on what I have studied in my first 2 years here.

What have you learnt/what skills have you acquired so far from the internship?
I have learnt a lot of Excel and data skills which will be very useful in the future, but mostly the experience of working in an office environment with meetings/reports/suppliers has given me lots of skills required for working in professional ‘real-world’ environments.

How does this internship fit into your future career plans?
I would like to work in the environmental/sustainability sector and this internship has given me experience working within a team focused on environmental work and hopefully will be valuable in getting future work in the sector.

Share one tip for sustainable living that you wish more students would adopt: Try and buy local produce that is in season. It (usually) has less packaging, has travelled less miles to get here and you’re also supporting the local economy.

___

Click here to meet our EcoCampus Intern, Eloise, and check out the projects last year’s interns (Dominyka, Daihachi, and Elena) worked on last summer!

Geothermal energy could heat homes and businesses around Scotland

Geotherm-mainbody

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.

7 easy ways to get active this summer

get active headerWith summer well on it’s way, and better weather (hopefully!) just round the corner, it’s the perfect chance to step away from the car keys in favour of walking or cycling. This not only reduces your carbon emissions, but getting active also has great mental and physical health benefits. It can be a challenge to break the habit at first, so here are some tips to help get you moving….

1. Make it social

Going it alone can be a bit daunting, so why not use a walk or cycle as an opportunity to meet up with friends? Instead of sitting in a cafe, get your drinks “to-go” and head for a walk around the park to catch up. It’s much better for you, and besides, who wants to sit indoors when the sun is shining?

2. Hop off early

If your destination is too far to walk or cycle, taking the bus and getting off a few stops early is a great first step. The idea of tackling long distances might be off-putting, but using public transport for part of your journey is much easier to manage – you can always increase your distance later on!

3. Use your lunch hour

Get moving and get away from your desk to help de-stress, rest your eyes from the glare of the screen, and energise yourself for the rest of the afternoon. Sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your health, so why not invite your colleagues on a lunchtime stroll to walk off your lunch and do a bit of team bonding?

4. Be a shutterbug

If it’s hard to motivate yourself to get walking or cycling without a purpose to your journey, take along your camera and turn it into a photography project. InstaMeets take place all over the world, encouraging people to get together to explore their environment creatively. Participating in a Weekend Hashtag Project is a great way to challenge yourself, get inspired, and update your Instagram feed in the process.

5. Use your tech

If you have a pedometer, activity band, or even just an app on your phone, you can keep track of the steps you’ve taken, calories you’ve burned, and some even record your heart rate. Monitoring your progress like this can give you the boost you need to keep going on a streak of activity, and should help you recognise your achievements, motivating you to keep active in your day-to-day life!

6. Keep up with what’s on

A walk or cycle can make for a fun day out, and there are plenty of organised events that you can get involved in, especially with Bike Week taking place from 13th-21st June. Check out Bike Events Scotland for more information about events in your area.

7. Commit to a good cause

If you need some motivation, sign yourself up for a sponsored walk or charity cycle to give yourself a goal to work towards. The money you raise will be great incentive to keep going, and will be helping out a worthy cause. Pedal for Scotland have a variety of rides organised for September – so you’ll have plenty of time to get training!

 

Image: Walk and cycle sign

End of term – what happens to all our “stuff”?

What happens to all our _stuff__

You’ve finished your exams, packed your bags, donated your unwanted items, and you’re ready to leave St Andrews for the summer…but what happens to all the “stuff” students donate?

Household items

10575351_1461008610848687_8140496115457494931_oFrom pots and pans to coathangers, stationery, and a wide variety of miscellaneous household goods, St AndRe-Use volunteers collect all these items from hall donation points and from STANDEN’s private residence collections. After some intensive sorting sessions (see above!), the cutlery and crockery is washed in hall dishwashers, then everything is boxed up and stored for the rest of the summer. Once students return in September, the items are taken along to the Freshers’ Week Big Green Fair where the thousands of items are given away for free to be used and enjoyed by another cohort of students!

Clothes

donateditemsDonations of clothes and accessories are collected by Frontline Fife, a local charity that provides services to help alleviate the effects of homelessness. Donated items are either passed directly onto those in need, or used to stock their Kirkcaldy-based boutique, “Re-Love It”, which raises funds for their projects.

Food

food_drive_cans_002_-_webAll donations of unopened, non-perishable food, toiletries, and cleaning products are collected and taken to St Andrews’ food bank, Storehouse, where they will be used to help local families in need.

Books

tumblr_n9iy64AQPN1sdo33qo3_500Whether it’s a novel or a course textbook, all books dropped off at donation points are collected by Barnardo’s and taken to be re-sold in their shop on Bell Street, raising funds to help transform the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children.

_____

Click here for more information on what to do with your end of term waste.

Revision Tips for Wellbeing

Wellbeing blog banner

An important part of  leading a green lifestyle and taking care of the planet involves taking care of yourself. During the revision period, exam stress affects most people and can make you feel exhausted and anxious. These simple tips give you ideas for small things you can fit into your day to help maintain your wellbeing and reduce your stress during revision…

Get outside

Let’s face it – being cooped up in the library is no fun at all. Take a short walk outside during study breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, helping to focus your mind and get a bit of clarity. If the weather’s nice, study outside in a garden, or schedule a walk along the beach with friends to get away from your laptop screen and give yourself something to look forward to!

If you fancy getting your hands dirty, join Transition for a spot of therapeutic gardening and seed sowing at Andrew Melville Hall on 1st & 15th May from 12.30-2pm.

Gentle exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress busters around! You might feel like you are unable to take much time out from studying over the revision period, but instead of giving up on exercise completely, taking regular breaks that include some exercise will refresh yourself and clear your mind – try a quick walk around the library, or doing some stretches in your room. Depending on what time of day you work best, fit exercise into your study schedule – for example if you work better later on in the day, go to the gym first thing in the morning to wake yourself up and get ready for the day ahead. If you’re still struggling, go with a friend and turn it into an opportunity to catch up!

Yoga is another good option, with YogiSoc running the following classes throughout the revision fortnight:

Monday Meditation – 7.30-8.30pm, The View, donation to charity
Tuesdays – 5-6pm, 136 North St, £2
Thursdays – 3-4pm, 136 North St, £2
Saturdays – 3-4pm, grass at East Sands, free

Get a good night’s sleep

Tiredness can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, and can make you feel overwhelmed. On top of that, when you’re tired your brain won’t be working at it’s best, so aim to get a good 8 hours sleep a night. Ensure you’re getting enough quality rest by winding down in the hour before going to bed – stop checking social media, switch off your laptop, and read a magazine or listen to some calming music to help you drift off.

Eat healthily (& regularly!)

Try not to give in to the temptation of junk food – make sure you maintain a healthy and balanced diet whilst studying to meet all your nutritional needs. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts on hand to fuel your brain through revision, and make sure you’re eating regularly to help ease your body into a routine.

Eating healthily needn’t be expensive – Transition will be giving away free fruit and veg from their Edible Campus gardens outside the library on 29th April, so be sure to swing by their VegTable!

Have a hot drink…that isn’t coffee!

Taking a break to have a hot drink can offer some comfort when the going gets tough. While coffee is normally the drink of choice when studying, try to avoid having too much caffeine as this can ‘hype’ you up and make your thinking less clear. Go decaf, or try a hot chocolate or herbal tea instead.

The Fairtrade Steering Group will be giving away 250 free packs of Fairtrade Clipper tea outside the library on Thursday 30th April from 11am.

_______

Remember to look after yourself, and if you need more help battling exam stress, Student Services have some great resources available online.