Park and pedal – Guardbridge to St Andrews

Everyone is familiar with the benefits of regular exercise. Most obviously, improved cardiovascular fitness, better muscle tone and increased fat burning potential. Not to mention reducing stress and fighting off low mood with those post-exercise feel good endorphins.

It was with these points in mind that I decided to take advantage of Transition’s park and pedal scheme for the duration of the Guardbridge road closure.

For those not in the know, Transition have provided car parking spaces, a new bike shelter and hire bikes at Guardbridge to allow staff, students and members of the public travelling from Dundee to avoid the diversion and complete the Guardbridge to St Andrews leg of their journey by bike.

More information on the park and pedal scheme can be found on the Sustainability section of the website.

I can’t deny that I did have initial reservations, so I made a deal with myself to try it for a week and go back to driving if I really didn’t like it.

One week in and I am pleased to report that I have really enjoyed commuting by bike and plan to continue to do so for the remainder of the road closure (and maybe beyond).

To encourage others to give it a go, I’ve addressed some of my initial concerns below.

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This was my primary concern since I had never used the cycle path between Guardbridge and St Andrews before.

Sustrans, the charity responsible for the National Cycle Network, have very clear maps of all major UK cycle paths on their website along with a wealth of cycling related resources that I found very helpful.

For those who are still unsure, Transition are running a series of led rides from Guardbridge to St Andrews for the duration of the road closure. These are free and open to all – so absolutely no excuses!

Energy levels

I was concerned that getting up early and exercising before work (a previously foreign concept to me) would contribute to my usual post-lunch energy slump.

In practice, however, I have found the opposite to be true. Not only do I arrive at the office refreshed and motivated, my energy levels are generally higher throughout the day. The cycle back to Guardbridge in the evening has yet to feel like a struggle and is, in fact, great for blowing away the cobwebs after sitting at my desk all day.

General hassle

The thought of having to pack a bag with my work clothes every morning did initially make me baulk. However, I was forgetting that I normally pack a gym bag every morning and this task was no more onerous.

This leads on to a separate and fairly self-explanatory point about being able to forgo the gym for exercise in the fresh air with a lovely view.

The drawbacks

The only major drawback I’ve experienced is a mild case of helmet hair. Of course, if you decide to take advantage of the University’s shower facilities this will not be of concern to you. Luckily, my team are very encouraging and have promised not to discuss my hair for the next eight weeks.

In sum, I’d encourage everyone to give the park and pedal a shot. I challenge you to try it for a week and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Words by Felicity Wild, digital communications team.

For enquiries, contact transition@st-andrews.ac.uk or tel 01334 46 4000

A ‘Fuel Good’ New Year’s Resolution

In 2014-15 the University emitted 88 tonnes of CO2 from its fleet. To lessen this impact, twelve of our drivers have completed ‘Fuel Good’ Driver Training, a fuel efficiency course provided by the Energy Savings Trust and Transport Scotland.

The aim of the course is to teach drivers skills that will help them to drive more economically, avoiding harsh braking and over-acceleration.

In each of 50 minute one-to-one sessions the drivers are assessed on their current driving habits, with their average MPG compared before and after each training session. A video of an example session can be found here.

Upon completion of the course, our drivers have increased their MPG by an average of 14%, to around 46 MPG; saving fuel, avoiding pollution and shrinking the University’s carbon footprint. If these savings are applied to the whole year, over 3.6 tonnes of CO2 will be avoided by the University.Tam, Jim and Sam

Tam McMullan, Jimmy Webster and Sam Wood (pictured above) from Estates were the first three members of staff to complete the training. Congratulations to them and to Adam Taylor, Ross Grieve and Terry Mitchell, also from Estates and Andy Braid, David Jarrett, Jim Moonie, Steven Gonzalez, Mike Mulreany and Ray Schiavetta from IT Services who recently completed the course as well.

In the coming weeks staff from the School of Geography and Geoscience and the University Library will undergo training.
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University Winter Shutdown 2015/16

Before leaving the University for the festive break please remember to:

  • switch off ALL electrical appliances at the wall
  • switch off ALL lights
  • turn down radiators to “1”
  • do not leave anything on standby

Remember that energy use really does all add up, so switch off all equipment, including printers and mobile phone chargers as well as the obvious computer and lights!  Turning off any equipment over the Christmas break will help us meet our carbon reduction targets and reduce cost to the University over the break.

Last year we avoided a whopping 249 tonnes of CO2 and saved £51,436 – a 27% reduction of the University’s total energy use! This was 50 tonnes more CO2 avoided than 2013/14, so hopefully we can continue the trend and avoid even more this Christmas

Transition ‘Highly Commended’ at Green Gown Awards

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Members of Transition descended on Bristol (the European Green Capital for 2015) for the Green Gown Awards ceremony, held annually to celebrate environmental achievements across the Higher Education sector. Out of 10 nominated universities and student unions across the UK, Transition bagged the ‘Highly Commended’ award for student engagement. Congratulations to all for their hard work this year.

Find out more about Transition’s projects and how you get involved at www.transitionsta.org

Waste not: a word from our sustainability officer

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If you do not waste food you will never go hungry – so the old saying ‘waste not, want not’ leads us believe. To many, this phrase conjures up images of queues outside grocers of wartime Britain and a by-gone era of thrift. While the phrase may feel out-dated, the philosophy of reducing waste is more relevant than ever and has been re-invigorated by a growing sustainability agenda. Meanwhile food waste continues to present problems worldwide; one-third of all produce in the world is not actually eaten according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN) and, shockingly, almost half is thrown away in the UK.

Bringing it a bit closer to home we can look at how much we waste in St Andrews. As a University we produce over 150 tonnes of food waste each year, and whilst this figure has been falling there is clearly more we can do. To find out more, I spoke to Alan Riddell, Catering Manager for the halls of residences across the University. He tells me the on-going challenges faced in increasing the choices for over 2,000 students: “It’s a delicate balance but we’re trying to reduce waste, improve our menus and provide good value for money.”

With these aims in mind, Mr Riddell talks through the process of how these meals are made: “Firstly all portion sizes are standardised throughout halls, but it proves difficult to always accurately predict how much food to cook on a day-to-day basis.” The difficulty lies in the fact there is not a tried and tested method to understand why meals are popular; often, unpredictable factors such as the weather, the previous nights’ activites and events or even peoples’ timetables make planning impossible. Inevitably this can lead to an increased amount of food waste, but there are steps that are being taken to tackle this, such as providing second helpings for students and staff after each meal.

Simple behavioural changes can also help to reduce waste, as Mr Riddell highlights when talking about vegetable and salad servings, which anyone can help themselves to. He says: “We want to encourage students to eat everything they put on their plates in the first place and to go for second helpings rather than taking larger portions which aren’t eaten and have to be disposed of.” At the University of Manchester they tackled this issue by requiring students to clear their own plates into food recycling bins to make it more obvious how much was being thrown away and to shift responsibility.

Here in St Andrews Transition have been running the CookSMARTER (Save Money and Reduce Time Energy and Resources) programme to provide training for sustainable and healthy cooking around catered halls to help change behaviours whilst also helping to improve recycling facilities with the roll-out of food waste caddies to residents in self-catered halls, including Albany Park.

Back in catered halls, Mr Riddell reminds me that the catering team are open to engaging with new ideas. For this semester’s Green Week extra vegetarian options were offered to provide more choice whilst considering the carbon footprint of the meal, in response the suggestions from various students. This setup is currently being reviewed to ensure that food waste does not increase as a result of greater menu choice and that the new menu is popular. But it shows that these issues are taken seriously.

Furthermore, it is becoming harder to throw away food waste to landfill, which makes the case for food waste reduction even stronger. In January 2014 the Scottish Government introduced legislation affecting all large businesses and organisations that requires them to dispose of their food waste separately from landfill. Alongside the University’s aims to send zero waste to landfill by 2020 as part of its sustainable development strategy, nearly all of the food waste from the University is transported to an anaerobic digester 25 miles away at Glenfarg (Perthshire) where it is converted into electricity.

Whilst this is a clever solution, it is clear that we need to reduce the amount of food wasted in the first instance; our current practices are unsustainable. There are simple things we can all do, such as more considerate meal planning, to foster a culture of ‘waste not’ into the future.

If you have any ideas for how food waste in your halls or the University then you can contact the Environment Team at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Original article: http://www.thesaint-online.com/2015/11/waste-not-a-word-from-our-sustainability-officer/

Research Buzzing in the North Haugh

beesThe Environment and Grounds teams have collaborated on a project to build a research apiary in the North Haugh. Professor David Evans, School of Biology, how has recently joined the University of St Andrews said “this is an outstanding resource to underpin our research on the virus diseases of honeybees which are responsible for high levels of colony losses every year. Bees dislike rain and strong winds, so keeping hives under cover means the colonies are a lot less disturbed when opened during bad weather.” He went on to add that “our studies depend on having bees available for as much of the year as possible. The sheltered environment of the ‘bee shed’ will help keep colonies active in early Spring and late Autumn.” Further details are available from the research group website http://www.evanslab.org.uk/bees/

 

 

Green Raisin Competition Huge Success

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

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

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

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

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

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Get secure! Locks, security marking and flashing armbands giveaway

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Locks, cycling safety leaflets and flashing armbands

Want to reduce the risk of your bike from being stolen? Looking for a lock to protect it? Want to be more visible as the nights draw in? Then come along to one of our ‘get secure’ sessions!

Not only are we selling bike locks at a subsidised price of £10 (RRP £15) but we are also giving away reflective and flashing armbands for *free*. That’s right – free!

On top of that Police Scotland will be offering security markings for your bicycles and electronic equipment – again – at no cost.

All of the sessions are between 1230 and 1400 and the dates and locations are as follows:

Thursday 1st October  – Andrew Melville Hall
Thursday 8th Oct – Agnes Blackadder Hall
Thurs 15th Oct – University Hall
Thurs 22nd Oct – John Burnett Hall
Thurs 29th Oct – St Salvator’s Hall
Thurs 5th November – Albany Park
Thurs 12th Nov – St Regulus’ Hall

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Last week’s session at DRAFP

If you are still looking to purchase a bike then you can join the Bike Pool on Facebook or contact BikeWorks on Facebook or by phone on 01592 751500 who provide second hand refurbished bicycles.

Road closures necessary as work on Fife Green Energy Centre begins

Residents and workers in North East Fife are being advised to expect travel disruption during early Spring 2016, when major pipe-laying works get underway on the main A919 Guardbridge to St Andrews road.

Fife Council will close the road, from 15 February 2016 to 8 April 2016, to allow 4 miles of water-pipe to be laid, connecting Guardbridge’s new £25 million Green Energy Centre with St Andrews, and providing the essential infrastructure for ongoing inward investment into Fife, job creation, and renewable energy production.

The new Energy Centre is being developed by the University of St Andrews and will pump hot water to St Andrews where it will be used to heat and cool student residences and laboratories.

To ensure safety to road users and to keep disruption to a minimum, diversions will be in place through Balmullo, adding an extra 7.5 miles to journeys north of St Andrews and south of St Michaels.

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Detailed consultation will take place with emergency services, bus operators, local businesses and community representatives and wherever possible the University will ensure that arrangements are in place to minimise the impact on services.

The University’s Chief Operating Officer, Derek Watson, said: “We are very sensitive to the fact that these works will cause varying levels of disruption to people who live or work in the Guardbridge, Leuchars and St Andrews areas, and we are very grateful for the support and consideration  which the community has shown so far as we have developed our plans to establish Guardbridge as a major centre for renewable energy.

“The Guardbridge development represents an investment of £25 million in north east Fife – creating more than 225 jobs in the construction phase alone, supporting apprenticeships, promoting the environment, and re-establishing Guardbridge as a key economic centre.”

Initially, the University had been directed by the Fife roads authorities to undertake the pipe-laying works in October and November this year. Following consultation with councillors however, it became apparent that the road closure might impact on commuting Madras pupils due to sit prelim exams in November.

The University lobbied for permission to undertake the works in January and February 2016 at the quietest time of year for traffic, but has now been informed that the road closures cannot start until February 2016.