Students and staff have recently launched the revamped Interhall Environment Competition, which saw Agnes Blackadder Hall win the first month and take home £150.
The competition is a collaboration between the Students’ Association, hall environment representatives, Residential & Business Services, Estates Environment Team, and Transition University of St Andrews.
Within University halls of residence, the competition aims to “save energy, reduce waste and build community around tackling climate change, supporting the University’s commitment to carbon neutrality,” according to the competition’s Facebook page.
The Interhall Environment Competition places halls of residence in competition with each other to lower their energy consumption.
A representative for the competition told The Saint, “It all began as the Interhall Energy Competition about 10 years ago, recognising the importance of enabling pro-environmental behaviour change to lower our energy demands as an institution, tackle climate change and build a sense of community around this. Over the decade, its been taken handed on from person to person and given a new fresh perspective every time. At one point it was a part of the halls champions league which tallied up the scoreboards from the charities, interhall sports and energy sides to decide the winner across all the categories.”
He continued, “The competition acts as a platform to enable and reward student residents for tackling waste, saving energy and taking initiative in other ways. From the energy we consume to the things we buy to what we don’t manage to eat, it all adds up across the halls to account for a pretty uncharming carbon footprint that we can and must start to manage.The competition is about creating opportunity for action that is eco, creative, socially-minded and helps normalise low-carbon lifestyles in halls.”
In the first month, halls were ranked on a number of factors.
In terms of post-plate food waste, which only applied to catered halls, the rankings, best to worst, were as follows: University Hall, John Burnett Hall (JBH), St Salvators Hall, Andrew Melville Hall (AMH), McIntosh Hall, Agnes Blackadder Hall (ABH), and David Russell Apartments (DRA).
In terms of the halls’ energy consumption compared to the target goal, the rankings, best to worst, were as follows: ABH (86%), AMH (89%), St Regulus Hall (94%), McIntosh Hall (99%), Deans Court (99%), Whitehorn Hall (100%), DRA (103%), University Hall (112%), Angus and Stanley House (121%), Gannochy House(129%), St Salvators Hall (138%), and Powell Hall (186%).
As a result of having the lowest energy consumption and introducing a new St And Reuse station, Agnes Blackadder Hall won £150 and took first place, with University Hall ranking second place overall for having the lowest food waste per person per plate.
On their success in the first month, Sophie Bickerton, Senior Student of Powell and Agnes Blackadder Halls, told The Saint, “We are really happy with the results from the first month in regards to ABH and, we are looking to use the winnings to continue being sustainable.”
“Over the past month, the Committee has tried to be as sustainable as possible with the use of our biodegradable cups and our new St And Reuse Space.”
“We will be using the winnings from the last month to paint the Reuse space as well as subsidise some reusable drinks cups; to encourage residents to use these instead of the reusable ones in the dining hall.”
Meanwhile, University Hall Senior Student Chloe Fielding, whose hall ranked second place overall and first place for the lowest food waste per person, told The Saint that their sustainability representatives are implementing four new initiatives, including reusable cups at events to reduce plastic waste, working to introduce “bring your own packed lunch box”, organising events to help raise awareness of sustainability issues among students, and separate bins in kitchens for separating food waste, dry mixed recycling, glass, and general waste.
The £150 prize money each month goes toward hall committee funds, to be spent on sustainability-related events and projects, along with other prizes to come.
On the prize money, a representative from the competition told The Saint, “The Residential Business Services (RBS) provide this. By lowering energy and reducing waste across the halls this adds up to some serious financial savings if the changes are consistent enough and RBS are also strongly behind putting sustainability at the centre of their operations.”
On their results so far, Yasemin Cag, a member of the JBH environment committee, said, “The most pressing issue for us so far has been reducing waste in the cafeteria.”
“We replaced the condiment packets with reusable bottles and we’re working on getting rid of salt, pepper, and jam packets with shakers and jars. We’re also trying to get the whole hall involved in waste reduction by organizing clothing swaps and encouraging reuse.”
“Unfortunately the Interhall Environment Competition isn’t really well known at all, so a big part of our job has been to raise awareness that this is even happening. But I do think it’s fundamentally a good idea, and it’s great that the University is prioritizing energy reduction and sustainability. If more people know about this it could actually be a really beneficial event.”
In last place for post-plate food waste, Tom Gardiner, senior student of DRA, told The Saint that their hall committee is introducing food waste bins to all flats and introducing mixed recycling so it will be easier for residents to engage with recycling.
On the progress being made in Andrew Melville Hall, AMH Environment Representative Elena Ewence said, “We have introduced the no plastic bags in the bins initiative following a meeting with the RBS management team and we are organising the building of a Reuse Station in one of our common rooms.
“We are also working closely with the Christmas Ball Subcommittee to try and promote a sustainable message and using sustainable decorations etc. We are currently researching the most effective ways to reduce our energy consumption.”
Halls are rewarded 50 points per month for saving energy consumption (with the percentage above being under 100%), 20 points per month for reducing post-consumer plate food waste in dining halls, 20 points per month for increasing dry mixed recycling rates against landfill weights, 50 points per year for “greening out” their annual hall balls, 5 points every time evidence is shown for supporting existing projects around community gardening, active travel such as biking or walking, and sharing secondhand items, and 5 points every time evidence is shown for promoting discussion, raising awareness, and enabling creative engagement around climate change.
For more information on the competition and how to get involved, students or staff can email Transition University of St Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Environment Team at environment@st-andrews.