Green Societies Guide

10458859_693481564069381_2113089142360349256_nIf you missed all the fun of the (Big Green) Fair on Monday, then don’t worry – there are still plenty of opportunities to meet the green societies and groups based in St Andrews. Check out our previous blog post for the full Freshers’ event line-up, or keep reading for our run-down of the different groups St Andrews has to offer – there really is something for everyone!

Animal Welfare Society

524962_147884018691164_2139361533_nThe Animal Welfare Society (AWSoc) are dedicated to the wellbeing and fair treatment of all animal kind. The society  campaigns against cruelty to animals and supports animal-friendly alternatives. The society also volunteers and fundraises for local shelters, and host regular documentary nights.

Check out their website and Facebook page to get involved.

Bike Pool Group

fd3c2f_8542d1b388d71c462639b8017a265d28.png_srz_1800_1200_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzThe Bike Pool are a community Group with a three-part program:
1. To operate as a skill share, primarily of bike repair and maintenance skills
2. To refurbish abandoned/donated bicycles so they can be put back into circulation in the local community
3. To promote cycling within our community as a healthy and sustainable form of transportation

Join their Facebook group to find out more information about the group and upcoming maintenance sessions.

Carbon Conversations

coffee-cup-image-300x212Carbon Conversations are a unique and inspiring series of 6 group discussions, and are cited as one of the top solutions to climate change. The sessions involve group activities, knowledge-building, idea-sharing and reflections, where participants will have the opportunity to explore climate change both practically and emotionally.

Sign up for a series of sessions here.

Edible Campus

1969157_366580283485024_996722225_nThe Edible Campus project aims to reinvigorate our skills, knowledge and interest in eating more locally whilst increasing the amount of food growing within the University grounds for the benefit of students, staff and the wider community. There are over 10 different Edible Campus food growing spaces across town, and everyone is welcome to get involved – whether you’re a keen gardener or have never planted anything before!

Check out the Edible Campus webpage, like their Facebook page or join the Facebook group for more info!

Environment Team (that’s us!)

1465925_609448629115878_1841238397_oWe manage issues affecting the University that relate to sustianable development, including carbon emissions, biodiversity, waste reduction, transportation and resource use. We use this blog to engage with students to provide information on upcoming events and opportunities to get involved in making St Andrews a more sustainable place to live, work, and study.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with events, and drop us an email ( or check out our website for practical information regarding sustainable travel, food, energy use, the local environment, and waste management.

Fairtrade Steering Group

FairtradeLogoWhiteThe Fairtrade Steering Group promotes the use of Fairtrade products across campus and works on Fairtrade initiatives. The group also organises events for Fairtrade Fortnight, which takes place in semester 2 with Fairtrade wine tasting, bake sales, talks, visits to local schools, and the ever-popular Fairtrade Cook-Off!

Like their Facebook page or email to get involved!

Greenpeace St Andrews

profile_img1_greenpeaceGreenpeace exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice. It needs solutions. It needs change. It needs action. If you like a good project and a good cause, join Greenpeace. The group encourage you to join the action and the fun in any of their weekly meetings, street campaigns, actions or socials!

Find them on Facebook or Twitter to start getting involved.

OneWorld Society

50494_35775563516_9171_nOneWorld campaigns on human rights, poverty, and the environment as part of People and Planet (the largest UK student campaigning network). They also organise numerous events and run the VegBox scheme.

Join the OneWorld Facebook group, or the VegBox group to find out more.

Saint Exchange

10460451_318878784943846_5836232256016066555_nSaint Exhange is a local trading scheme allowing people to trade locally in and around St Andrews. The scheme allows local residents to join for free and trade goods/skills/services using “Saints”.  By measuring trades using “Saints”, the scheme provides a service whereby members can share skills and talents that they enjoy and thus earn Saints, which they can spend them on the things that they want or need from other members.

To sign up, check out their website and Facebook page.

St Andrews Environmental Network (StAndEn)

10455322_738217186201162_6047836635977374219_nStAndEn is a community-led energy saving project, which aims to help you reduce CO2 emissions and cut household fuel bills through simple low cost steps. If you live in private rented accommodation, they can do a free home energy assessment and tell you how you can make savings.

For more information check out their website and Facebook page.

St AndRe-Use

10154342_1380538758895673_1145329313350358460_nSt AndRe-Use is a student organised reuse scheme in St Andrews. They collect, sort, and give away all donated items for free! St AndRe-Use set up donation points across campus during exam and graduation weeks. They save the environment, space and your sanity from the burden of too much stuff!

 To get involved check out their webpage, or join the Facebook group to start claiming and giving away items!

Sustainability Society

1047963_1474211176126570_1312490545_oThe Sustainability Society’s mission is to raise the awareness about sustainability issues amongst St Andrews students, and are dedicated to making St Andrews as sustainable as possible. The society undertakes academic, social, and practical activities to implement sustainability at all scales – from organising seminars to practical action.

Join in and find out more by visiting their Facebook page.

Transition University of St Andrews

466289_251323201618555_1429781240_oTransition University of St Andrews is part of a global movement responding to the threats of climate change and resource depletion. Transition works on practical projects that help communities become more self-sufficient, minimises environmental impacts, and strengthens community ties.

To get involved email or explore the many projects on their website and Facebook page.

Veg Soc

10177317_762903493729892_1990981121759130606_nDo you love to eat and cook veggie and vegan food? Then this is the society for you! Join them for veggie feasts, potlucks, parties, picnics, trips and more. Everyone is welcome – no politics, just food.

Join VegSoc on Facebook to keep up to date with their events.

Wildlife & Conservation Society

seal10Interested in wildlife and conservation? This society holds events such as presentations, documentary screenings, moth trapping, bat tracking, local conservation work, and more!

Go wild and find out more on Facebook.

Most of these groups will have a stall at the Freshers’ Fayre (Sunday 12th Sept, 10-4 in Venue 1) so if any take your fancy then head along to find out more, and sign up to start getting involved in creating a greener St Andrews!

Freshers Week 2014 – Green Event Line-Up

Freshers Welcome Facebook HeaderThere’s just a few short days to go until St Andrews will be full of new faces (and some more familiar ones) ready to embark on another year of studying and socialising. If you’re keen on getting involved with any of the “green” societies and groups in St Andrews then read on for the Environment Team’s top picks of environmental events happening across the town over the next week or so…

Friday 5th September

7.30 – 10pm – Bioblitz at St Andrews Botanic Garden

Saturday 6th September

10am – 4pm – Bioblitz at St Andrews Botanic Garden

Monday 8th September

11am – 3pm – Big Green Fair – St Katharine’s Lawn

11am – 12.30pm – St AndRe-Use Giveaway – Arts Lecture Theatre

2 – 3pm – Local Food Shop Walk, hosted by the One World Society – St Katharine’s Lawn

Tuesday 9th September

1 – 4pm – Sow, Grow, & Eat with Transition – Community Garden

Wednesday 10th September

10am – 12pm – Wild Food Walk – Sailing Club (East Sands)

12.30 – 4pm – Gardening Session & Pot Luck Lunch – Albany Park Community Garden

2 – 3pm – Pizza & Beer with BioSoc and WildSoc – Bell Pettigrew Museum

3 – 5pm – Carbon Conversations Taster Session – Old Union Diner

Thursday 11th September

11am – Rockpooling with WildSoc – West Sands

11am – 2pm – Charitable & Volunteering Fair – Venue 1

1pm – Saint Exchange Free Picnic – St Mary’s Quad Lawn

1 – 2.30pm – Veggie Pot Luck Picnic with VegSoc – Students’ Association Garden

6 – 8pm – Green Drinks Social with Transition – Old Union Diner

Friday 12th September

10.30am – Bike Sale – Agnes Blackadder Hall car park

12.30 – 2pm – One Pound Lunch with the One World Society – St John’s Garden

2.30 – 4pm – Edible Campus Tomato Session – St Andrews Botanic Garden

Sunday 14th September

10am – 4pm – Freshers’ Fair – Venue 1

The Environment Team will be getting stuck into the Big Green Fair with our “Green Pledge Mural”, dishing out cycle safety tips at the bike sale, and of course, will be on hand at the Environment table at the Freshers’ Fair to answer any questions. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to St Andrews, and look forward to a green year ahead!

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@

Meet the Interns Part 2: Daihachi Yagi

Continuing our “Meet the Interns” series, this week we’d like to introduce you to Daihachi Yagi!


Name: Daihachi Yagi
Where are you from?: New York, USA
Internship Title: Web Design Discovery Intern
Degree and year of study: Sustainable Development (entering 3rd year)

Give a brief snapshot of your role:
My primary task for this internship was to assist Estates and the Environment Team in re-evaluating the digital content on the Estates and Environment Team webpages. Much of what I did involved interviewing staff and students.

What attracted you to this internship with the Environment Team?
I was interested in seeing what kind of experience I would have working for the University over the summer.

What have you learned/what skills have you acquired?
During this internship I was able to learn some key do’s and don’ts of website design and content management. Additionally, the interviews with stakeholders improved my communication skills.

How does this internship fit into your future career plans?
This is the first job that relates to what I have been studying for the past 2 years. Hopefully this will open new doors in the Environment/SD sector for me in the future.

Share one tip for sustainable living that you wish more students would adopt:
Reduce meat consumption. You can save money and shrink your carbon footprint!

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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


 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.

Meet The Interns: Dominyka Urbonaite

This summer the Environment Team has been a hub of activity as we welcomed three student interns to the team to work on various projects.

We’d like to introduce them one by one so you can find out more about them, the important work they’ve been doing, and how the internships have helped them with their future career goals. It’s been great having some new faces in the office and we’ve really valued all their fresh ideas and suggestions for how we can take their projects to the next level!

So, without further ado, meet Dominyka!

DSCN5156-001 - Copy (2)Name: Dominyka Urbonaite
Where are you from? : Lithuania
Job Title: St Andrews Sustainability Award Intern
Degree and year of study: I am studying Sustainable Development and I am going to my 4th year.

Give a brief snapshot of your role:
The project I am working on is a new environmental accreditation and awards scheme called St Andrews Sustainability Awards. As part of this new scheme departments and units within university will have to complete a number of practical eco-friendly actions within their office in order to achieve an award: bronze, silver or gold. During my internship I was researching similar schemes at other universities and developing a set of environmental criteria for departments to complete.

What attracted you to this internship with the Environment Team?
I am interested in the sustainability in the institutions and working on a new programme aimed at making workplace more sustainable seemed as a brilliant opportunity.

What have you learned/what skills have you acquired?
Report writing and talking with various stakeholders was a very useful part of internship. I learned more about how the environment team operates within an academic institution and different stakeholders involved in creating a more sustainable workplace. In addition, I got to know more about areas and issues preventing from choosing the most sustainable way such as time, money and other more complex issues.

How does this internship fit into your future career plans?
I am interested in working in sustainability within institutions in the future so the experience I obtained from this internship directly relates to my future career plans.

Share one tip for sustainable living that you wish more students would adopt:
Reduce paper waste, print less lecture slides, handouts or readings and instead read on the computer or laptop. Most of all share this with a friend.

Look out for future posts introducing our other summer interns coming soon!

Say hello to your new Sustainability Officer!


This week we welcome a new addition to the Environment Team as Lynsey Smith begins her year as Sustainability Officer.

Lynsey has recently graduated from the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews, and has a keen interest in biodiversity and environmental protection. Lynsey is eager to get stuck into the projects that the previous Sustainability Officer, Tucker Diego, took part in, as well as thinking of new ventures the Environment Team can get involved with. Tucker has been a highly valued member of the Environment Team, and will be sorely missed. We wish him all the best for the future!

Lynsey will be focusing on outreach, engagement and communication with staff and students, as well as supporting University sustainability initiatives like the Transition group. She will also be supporting the other three members of the Environment Team; Roddy Yarr, David Stutchfield and Barbara Aitken on their exciting projects, including the Environmental Facilitators Network, recycling schemes and implementing renewable energy systems to achieve the university’s goal of becoming carbon neutral for energy by 2016!

To contact Lynsey, email her on

You can also see what the Environment Team is up to and get in touch with Lynsey via facebook and by following us on twitter.

Looking back on the year

It’s that time of year again when a I’ll be handing over the role to a new Sustainability Officer. The nature of the 1 year graduate role means I’ll be moving on to greener pastures…

I’ve hugely enjoyed my time spend this year working on a wide range of sustainability projects here in St Andrews. There is so much going on and so many enthusiastic people doing impressive things it’s hard not to feel optomistic about the future. While rereading my predecessor’s final post, she mentions:

“The staff and students I have met during the year have been great and there are clearly many people at St Andrews who share our vision in the Environment Team for a carbon neutral future.”

One year on and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

So… what has changed? How far have we come in the past year? To answer these questions I’ve arranged a sample of happenings from this past year (along with a hint or two at things to come). I hope this shows just how much is going on and how achieving sustainable ways of living and working involves all of us.

For those interested, you can view my recent final report in full detail here: End of Year Report

Greening traditions

Sometimes we do things for no other reason than because we’ve always done it that way. I’m thinking of some of the famous St Andrews traditions we love so much. This year we made a stab at making one such tradition – Raisin Weekend – a touch more sustainable by encouraging students to make ‘greener’, less-wasteful receipts and costumes… a good try, but can we do better next year?

Long time in waiting

After years of planning, project proposals and appeals, the LOGO- smallerUniversity was glad to receive the go-ahead for the Kenly Windfarm project which represent a huge step towards powering the University from renewable energy sources. Be sure to keep an eye out in the year(s) to come as the next project phases get underway.

A shove in the right direction

Behavioural change theory suggests that in order to achieve largescale changes, sometimes a ‘shove’ is required. This is percisely what happened in January when the Scottish Government introduced new food waste legislation. And we’re glad they did so as this was a good push for expanding or recycling facilities and increasing recycling rates to 73%! How our food waste is recycled is fascinating – learn more about the process here.

A Celebration

This year saw one of the  busiest St Andrews Green Weeks 10273105_303446916477434_7205161890721196243_owith over 35 events and 750 participants taking part. What better way to celebrate sustainable living than to share ideas, food, films and activities with friends? To see what activities were offered and updates for next year’s events visit the Green Week homepage.

Exciting future

The future of a sustianble St Andrews is something to get excited about! Transition is putting this to the test by developing new and bolder projects for their next round of funding in 2015/16 and are looking for your input – why not get involved and be a part of the future?

And finally, for those who read this far – thanks for your patience. As a reward here’s a sneak peak of the new Guardbridge Energy Centre website which I’ve been developing over the past couple weeks. Keep an eye out for the launch of the website in the coming month!

GB website sneak peak

Until next time –