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A glimpse at low carbon sustainable behaviour on Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh Campus




What's grown on campus stays on campus.

Cutting commuting carbon costs.

Half a million litres of hot water not going down the drain.





SECOND HAND, SECOND NATURE? We were sitting in an office talking to Kirsty Hughes, Heriot-Watt’s Procurement Manager, who was saying that all the furniture in the office was second hand, and she was right, you wouldn’t have known.

"Re-covering and refurbishment projects are happening all the time" says Kirsty. "We use companies for upholstery and refurbishing. From an environmental point of view and budget restraints it makes sense." “In previous years there used to be skips behind the stores and you would hear stuff being thrown in. Now we reuse and avoid as much waste as possible.” Furniture no longer needed is collected by Procurement, taken to the stores, cleaned up and is ready to go when requests come through. Brian Dempster, Distribution Centre Supervisor, says “We are the first port of call. We’ve got a really good relationship with the building superintendents and school administrators so everything comes here.”

A new company moving into the Research Park recently donated furniture from their previous offices in Livingston, this allowed Procurement to redeploy to suitable areas on campus. Brian showed us the range of furniture available for quick turnaround: desks, chairs, cupboards, white boards, meeting tables, bookshelves, cabinets and drawers. Most requests will be met by what is there. For staff or departments needing furniture it means no costs from increasingly tight budgets. Due to an increase in staff going paperless, more filing cabinets are becoming available for re-use. Kirsty told us that their policy means that if it can’t be reused on site then they will find others who can. They supply furniture to the British Heart Foundation and the Cyrenians, and older

lab equipment has been donated to Scotia Aid for use in Sierra Leone. Despite the good quality and range of furniture on offer, sometimes there are requests for brand new furniture. Kirsty reminded us that perhaps we should consider the implications of this. “Although you might not be able to do much at a high level, you can be willing to use second hand furniture and not just new.” And like us, you're unlikely to notice the difference.

If you require any furniture or have redundant furniture and equipment, please contact

GREEN WASTE With 60 acres of grass to cut weekly, 80 acres of woodland to manage and 4.5 miles of hedgerows to keep in shape, it's surprising the Campus isn't buried under a pile of leaves and cuttings.

“All green waste produced at the Edinburgh Campus stays on campus. This means less transportation of huge volumes of waste.” Jim Swan, Estate Supervisor, said “gathered green waste from across the whole campus can pile up to the size of a small cottage.” The green waste is used to enhance the soil, woodlands and habitats around the campus. Wood chippings are used on


pathways and beds, and composted branches and leaves are spread on fields. Using the green waste onsite means nutrients are returned to the land which would otherwise be lost in disposal. Things are not always as straightforward as they seem, as this practical solution to waste management must also comply with waste regulations.

DID YOU KNOW? NEW LED LIGHTS have been installed at various places across campus including the Library, Lord Balerno Building, and Boundary Road street lamps. As well as saving energy, LEDs have a life of 50,000 – 100,000 hours compared to 8,000 -10,000 hours for compact fluorescent and other older types.

THE KITCHENS have reduced their veg oil consumption by 50% since investing in an oil filter system. In Central Food Court and Elements alone 240 litres of oil were previously used per week. Now this lasts two weeks.

KETTLE STOPPED WORKING? Don’t know what to do with old broken lab equipment? If you’re unsure about waste, including electricals, contact your Building Superintendent. Students should contact their Housekeeper. You can also enquire at or




“It makes you plan your work day better so you finish on time” says Catriona McAllister, Director of the Centre for Sport and Exercise, who joined the Heriot-Watt Liftshare scheme two years ago.


THE COMMUTER “I’ve got to dissipate my energy somewhere and it can go into pedal power. I do it for health and my brain” says Colin Elliot, Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment, who chooses to commute by train and bike from across the border in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

“I suffer from a bad back and if I had to be in a car for one and a half hours, I’d be crooked. It’s great thinking time on the train too.” “You can’t predict the traffic when you’re driving, but I know how many minutes it takes to cycle.” Colin cycles from his home to the train station which takes six minutes, catches a train to Edinburgh Park Station and then cycles 15 minutes along the canal path to Heriot-Watt.

are relatively spacious so I can have a whole table if I need. I also have peace of mind that I’m safe.”

Colin uses his mobile to buy ‘M tickets’ which help keep the costs down.

“I can use the time to work. Trains

Staff reduce fuel consumption with training in Fuel Efficient Driving


Sheena Darbyshire, Administrator in Media Services and several other staff at the Edinburgh Campus took part in Fuel Efficient Driving training with the Energy Saving Trust, working in partnership with Transition Heriot-Watt.

Catriona finds it difficult to imagine returning to lone driving. “I would take it hard if I had to go back to driving all the time. Relaxing as a passenger is really good.” Catriona shares the 66 mile round commute with her Liftshare partner, Richard, an IT specialist at Heriot-Watt.

Car sharing also means having a bit of security compared to travelling alone. Catriona recalls being stuck in treacherous storms last winter and having a bit of company makes those situations more pleasant. Catriona added that “It’s a lot less lonely when stuck in a traffic jam.”

Catriona and Richard alternate driving each week and are flexible on arrangements. “We just text or phone if one of us needs to be away earlier or later than usual. It’s easy to sort out, and sometimes we do split weeks.”

Catriona and Richard have been joined by a Heriot-Watt student, Fraser, who shares three days a week. Since joining Liftshare, Catriona has saved over £3,000 in fuel costs alone, not to mention vehicle wear and tear.

“Relaxing as a passenger is really good. I can just shut my eyes on my way home if I’m tired.” To join the Heriot Watt car sharing group go to

“It has completely changed my driving. My tank of petrol now lasts about a week” says Sheena. “I only have a small car, but it has made a difference.” Sheena reduced her fuel consumption by 15% after taking part in the Fuel Efficient Driving session, equating to annual savings of £318 and over half a tonne of CO2 emissions. Sheena was surprised at how easy it is to achieve fuel savings. “It’s amazing that doing something so simple can save you so much money. It’s bad habits that end up using your fuel. I wish I could keep doing it every couple of years to refresh.” Sheena was up all night worrying about the training, thinking this was like a driving test, but it wasn’t. “The instructor was lovely. I thought he would be very critical but he wasn’t at all.” Simple changes make a difference to fuel use, reduce wear and tear on components, and help you drive more safely.


14,000 CUPS of TEA 71g for your average cup of tea with milk





500 Kg for each return

*according to Mike Berners-Lee’s ‘How bad are bananas?’




The new pot wash machine in the kitchens behind Central (The Food Court) has dramatically decreased water consumption. As less water is used it means less energy to heat the water. Pots no longer require pre-soaking and less detergent is needed. “The machine will help extend the life of our 25 year old pots

as it removes the carbon and residue build up, which is difficult to remove by hand. Before, trays and pans were left with a film of grease but now they come out spotless.”

The Raddison Blu Edinburgh visited the kitchen to see the machine in action and were so impressed that they are also planning to invest.

150 litres

of water per day in the UK.

"I grew up in Indonesia. Electricity was unreliable and water was not always available in the day, so I learnt to conserve everything."

bit challenging to turn the heating down in chilly Scotland, but Jongky also found this easy. "It wasn't a problem at all. I just put on an extra jumper."

Jongky took part in the Carbon Diet Challenge, organised by Transition Heriot-Watt, which asks staff and students to carry out simple actions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Jongky made her home more energy efficient when she saw her neighbours doing so. "Since having my home insulated the heat lasts longer and I have the radiators on lower settings."

"Even though water is free in challenges include taking this country, it Daily four minute showers, having a is still precious" meat free day and turning your thermostat down. "It was simple. says Jongky things are my way of Harlim, Student These living. I walk to work, it’s only Support Advisor 30 minutes. I always take a in the School shower instead of a bath. of Engineering Landfill is a concern so I have a huge compost bin." & Physical With temperatures averaging over Sciences. 25°c in Indonesia it might seem a

The Student Union has been awarded a gold award for improving its environmental practice.

“It’s easy to load so everyone pitches in, even the chefs. There’s no more back breaking work standing over sinks for hours.”


Individually we use an average of


KITCHENS SET TO SAVE 500, 000 LITRES OF WATER ANNUALLY “It’s absolutely fantastic compared to old fashion sinks” says Jamie Jack, Head Chef, Hospitality Services. “Before, we had four sinks dedicated to pot washing which needed refilling constantly.”


For Jongky it's important to consider the impact we have on future generations and pass on good habits. "My children are really good at doing these things, like recycling and composting, and turning the tap off when they brush their teeth. Here people take water and electricity for granted, but one day we will run out if we are not careful. "

“Now I’ll think about the next students and leave my things for them” says Maths student André Kovac, who uses items from last year’s halls re-use programme. “It was really great as I got cups, cutlery, and other necessities which I would have had to buy otherwise.” Like many international students André arrived with limited luggage. “I got lots of useful things, including t-shirts and a wok I still use every day. I was lucky enough to get a microwave too. My flatmates were really happy about that.”

“I love that all my mugs and plates are different. It’s so boring if you just go to Ikea and get all the same.” The items belonged to previous years’ students and were diverted from landfill. This year the Chaplaincy will be collecting kitchenware and other items will go to the British Heart Foundation. Donations are welcome all year round. André also took part in the Student Switch Off campaign. He trained as a rep and gave energy saving advice to other students. André was entered into a national competition for his contributions to the campaign and won a ‘bearded hat’ which he says keeps him warm.

LAST YEAR we saved 1.5 tonnes of student’s reusable items from going to landfill. Cookware, microwaves, books, clothes, and more. This saved 13 tonnes of CO2 emissions and reduced the number of skips used by the University at the end of the year.

As part of the Green Impact Students’ Unions programme the Union has worked on travel, procurement, energy and waste policies to move from silver to a gold award. All staff and executive members now calculate the carbon footprint of business travel, and UK internal flights are restricted. Other measures include donating scrap paper to the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh for art activities, using water butts to collect rain water and fitting 100% reused furniture in Geordies Bar. To encourage students to take action they also signed up to the Student Switch Off campaign, in collaboration with Transition Heriot-Watt and the University Estates team. Naomi Hunter, Campaigns and Collective Officer, said they hope to involve more students in the programme next year to embed the practices further .

TRANSITION HERIOT-WATT Gardener’s Cottage Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh EH14 4AS Tel 0131 451 8452/8459 Facebook Twitter @TransitionHW

Transition Heriot-Watt's overall purpose is to act as a catalyst to bring about ownership of holistic sustainability amongst the community at Heriot-Watt University. The project is funded by the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund, which provides grants for community groups wanting to tackle climate change and make community improvements by reducing their carbon emissions.

Lean&green summer13 final hires  
Lean&green summer13 final hires