The University of St Andrews

Guardbridge Energy Centre

Executive Summary

The University of St Andrews has stated its ambition to become the first in the UK to achieve carbon neutrality for energy. To achieve this they embarked on an ambitious multi-phase project which will revolutionise the way they generate and consume heat and power. Initially they created an award-winning £25m Eden Park Campus Project which generates heat from a central biomass boiler and distributes it via a 23km district heating network where it provides heat for 47 buildings, generating circa 6,000 tonnes of CO2 savings per year. The next phase involves a £3.75m NDEE framework project which makes improvements to the University’s energy infrastructure and will involve 30 buildings and generate an additional 950 tonnes of CO2 reduction and £650k in energy savings per annum.

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    £28.75m Total Investment
  • meet-our-team
    34 Apprentices employed
  • reducing-carbon
    6,950 tonnes of carbon saved
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    73% of project spend was local

Project Overview

With over 9,200 students, 2,500 staff and a range of specialist equipment, the University of St Andrews has similar energy needs to a small town.  To meet its carbon reduction targets the University created a pioneering concept which would see us renovate and retrofit the derelict Curtis Fine Paper Mill and transform it into a 21st Century Energy Centre and educational facility.

This was followed by an NDEE framework contract to reduce the energy usage in the University’s highest energy consuming buildings.  We initially performed an in-depth survey of the existing energy structure and identified a range of energy conservation measures to reduce both Co2 emissions and energy costs.

Our Solution

Vital Energi University Of St Andrews Biomass Our Story

The energy centre works involved renovating the derelict paper mill to ensure it was structurally sound.  Initially this saw us undertake extensive groundworks such as piling and concrete pouring to ensure it could bear the load of the heavy plant and equipment.  We also undertook roofing repairs and steelwork as well as installing a new electrical and lighting infrastructure.

Inside the energy centre we installed a 10m high, Jernforsen biomass boiler furnace capable of consuming more than 300m3 of woodchip per day in the depths of winter.  The boiler was connected to a thermal store which gave the biomass system an overall capacity of 6.5MW.  To minimise emissions we also installed an electrostatic precipitator which captures fly ash and particulate which would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere.

For the 23km district heating installation the pre-construction period proved essential.  As the project involved disruption to the A91, the main road into the town of St Andrews, we utilised the time to work with the transport companies to organise alternative bus routes, highways to create a robust traffic management plan and implement a proactive stakeholder liaison plan to ensure all information was communicated to the university staff and students as well as the wider community. Through careful planning and use of labour we were able to reopen the busy A91 two full-weeks ahead of schedule.

For the NDEE project we identified a range of energy conservation and generation measures which were then presented to the University in an investment-grade proposal.  Measures being deployed include a new CHP-powered district heating scheme to supply the Old Town Campus, a new 100kWp solar PV array at the Sports Centre, upgrades to the HVAC and building management system and upgrading the lighting scheme to modern, efficient LED units.

Solution detail

Vital Energi were very good from bid stage and throughout the scheme and the team were always looking to improve what we could provide to the client. The whole energy centre was fantastic with the raised walkways and reconfiguration of the windows in the welfare area, it transformed the energy centre. The team was always looking to improve and add value to the project, there was a very positive approach across the team, I have a lot of praise and admiration for all at Vital and as a result of their work we have a better scheme."

Angus Kennedy, Adams Consulting

It's great that the road works have finished ahead of schedule. Having travelled to and from work via the diversion every weekday during the road works, it was obvious that the works had been very well planned, and were carried out efficiently."

Brian Thomson, Guardbridge Councillor

Key Benefits

The University of St Andrews - Guardbridge Energy Centre

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