Living Laboratory for Sustainability

main content


The University of Strathclyde is committed to being a ‘place for useful learning’ by providing high-quality educational opportunities and both local and global application of our research which ultimately aim to benefit the society.


Strathclyde Campus as a Living Lab for Sustainability encourages students and researchers to carry out projects that aim to work towards the enhancement of the university’s sustainability.

Examples of projects carried out under this programme are listed below.

2014 - Dissertation: Effectiveness of waste signage
 
"Working with the Sustainability Office was a chance to collaborate with an active environmental department and engage in a practical research project with impactful, visible results."

Name: Scott Bryson

Degree Studied: MSc Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Year of graduation: 2014

Prize-winner: Thorburn prize for best dissertation 2014

 

Why did you choose to work with the Sustainability Office?

Working with the Sustainability Office was a chance to collaborate with an active environmental department and engage in a practical research project with impactful, visible results.

Title of dissertation

Exploring Effective Signage: An Examination of Contamination Rates in Source-Segregated Recycling Streams through Manipulation of Recycling Signage Features.

Dissertation summary

My dissertation explored the influence of recycling signage on contamination rates within source segregated recycling streams and aims to help develop a more effective template for future signage design.

An initial study was conducted through a literature review and a focus group attended by professionals from the waste management industry, exploring the key aspects of effective recycling signage. This identified that clear photographic images of materials, simple written information with minimal text and identification of site specific ‘problem materials’ were of paramount importance when designing recycling signage.

A waste audit was conducted at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, using signage from the national ‘Recycle Now’ campaign to establish a baseline to compare any future signage against. Information gathered from the initial study and observations from the baseline waste audit was used to design new signage wich was then trialled in another set of waste audits.

Key outcomes

Use of this signage resulted in a 42% reduction in contamination of recycling streams. This was achieved through targeting items identified as problem materials for this site. However, this study also found that availability and positioning of bins was also critically important to reducing contamination rates.

Any ideas for future projects or general recommendations?

Further work should incorporate facility positioning and the number of available bins into its research to validate and improve the results of this study. A more detailed breakdown of contamination composition was also identified as possible means of improving the effectiveness of signage design and redesign in the future.

2014 - Project: Ross Priory Carbon Footprint and Energy Savings
Photo
"The University is ideally positioned to further enhance its reputation by applying its technological and research skills to Ross Priory as a showcase for the innovative, sustainable refurbishment of heritage buildings.” 

Names: Nikolaos Sofianopoulos, Sheena Boyd and Juri Kromm

Degree Studied: MSc in Environmental Entrepreneurship

Year of graduation: 2014

Prize-winner: DLCS Prize for Best Student of the aforementioned MSc and 2nd Prize for Poster design in below module

 

Why did you choose to work with the Sustainability Office?

The specific project was assigned by the University in the context of CL973-Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry module

Title of project
Ross Priory Carbon Footprint and Energy Savings Report

Project summary
Ross Priory is a grade A listed building set within 200 acres of mature gardens and parkland and located on the shores of Loch Lomond. It forms part of the University of Strathclyde's estate and operates as a hotel, event and conference venue. The purpose of the Carbon Masters Audit was to measure Ross Priory's carbon footprint and identify low-cost carbon savings. The on-site visit took place on 20 January 2014 and the audit covers the year from August 2012 to July 2013.

Key outcomes
Overall carbon emissions for Ross Priory were estimated to be 303.68 tCO2e per year. Scope 2 consisting of overall electricity from grid was assessed as the major driver for emissions (52.33%), followed by scope 1 covering heating oil and coal (36.07%). The calculations revealed that lighting accounted for only 12% of electricity used and that kitchen equipment is likely to have the highest share of electric energy consumption. Considering also the fact that Ross Priory is a grade A listed building, which allows only limited measures to mitigate heat losses, converting from oil to biomass fuel was recognized as a key recommendation for reducing emissions.

Any ideas for future projects or general recommendations?
Although the Carbon Audit was limited to the main building, it can still be used as a baseline for future audits. The process can also serve to raise awareness and stand as a sign of the University's commitment to social and environmental accountability. The University is ideally positioned to further enhance its reputation by applying its technological and research skills to Ross Priory as a showcase for the innovative, sustainable refurbishment of her

 

2014 - Project: Waste audit and analysis of Strathclyde's waste policy
 "The existing recycling system at the JA campus suffered on the one hand from inconsistent waste bin signage and on the other hand from lack of awareness of individuals."  

Name: Juri Kromm

Degree Studied: MSc in Environmental Entrepreneurship

Year of graduation: 2014

 

Why did you choose to work with the Sustainability Office?

The motivation to work with the Sustainability Office of the University of Strathclyde and be involved in the 100% Recycling Policy was driven by several reasons. For instance, the University of Stratchclyde is a prestigious HEI and the availabe project seemed to be very challenging. In addition, due to personal interest an desired career path in the field of HEI the chance to experience both corresponding decision making processes as well as teamwork with a PhD student was highly valued. Furthermore, from the outset of the MSc programme in Environmental Entrepreneurshp, it was experienced that the existing recycling system at the JA campus suffers on the one hand from inconsistent waste bin signage and on the other hand from ignorance and lack of awareness of individuals. It was assumed that those factors lead to inappropriate segregation and thus cause adverse impacts on economic and environmental performance measures. Last but not least, the responsible team of the Sustainability Office impressed me during the interview. They were very friendly, smart and dedicated to improve the ecological footprint of the University of Strathclyde. For those reasons, a desire evolved to start this project and help the University of Strathclyde to become more sustainable.

Project title

100% Recycling Policy at the University of Strathclyde

Project summary

In the scope of the class module CL929: ‘Client-based environmental entrepreneurship in practice’ and the 100% Recycling Policy at the University of Strathclyde, initiated by the Sustainability Office in autumn 2013, a project was started under the supervision of Catalina Silva-Plata, a PhD researcher and University’s Environmental Coordinator, from February 1st until May 12th, 2014. The following three aims were defined for this project: 1. Goal (bronze): Develop a waste audit plan for a sample of solid waste from the JA campus and provide a guide for future waste audits. 2. Goal (silver): Conduct waste audit and analyze results. Based on this propose measures, which will help to improve the revealed performance. 3. Goal (gold): Ensure that proposed measures are followed up.

Key outcomes

As a result a waste audit was successfully developed and applied in practice (bronze). The commercial benefit of the whole project amounted to at least £2,295. In total 220 kg of recyclable and non-recyclable waste samples were analyzed. Around 80% of waste, which was disposed as non-recyclable was out of place. The main source of waste was mixed paper with 63%. In reference to the revealed information on the composition and level of contamination actions for the future ie awareness events and training of staff were proposed. In addition, follow-up waste audits were recommended in order to monitor and to reduce continually adverse impacts on the environment (silver). Long term effects are anticipated due to the preparation of a guide for future audits, pre-questionnaire for prospective contractors and invitation to tender templates. From the social point of view students were involved and all gained experience was shared, which will help for their personal and professional future. Certificates were also issued to them. Furthermore, the waste audit was recorded and a video will be produced, which will help to address a wide audience and to underpin a higher quality of life and more tidy facilities (gold). The outcomes of the project were additionally presented in the EAUC Conference 2014.

Any ideas for future projects or general recommendations?

The applied methodology proved to be successful and largely applicable to future audits at the University of Strathclyde or external organization. For instance, such a project could be transferred easily to the facilities of Ross Priory.

2014 - Project: Strathclyde Energy - Empowering a More Sustainable Future
[The decision to work with the Sustainability Office was mainly triggered by]: "the flexible and collaborative approach the team showed, by giving me the freedom to design the project and offering their help and commitment to carry it out. This was key to pursue real changes and successfully complete the project."  

Name:  Eva Maria Fernandez-Moran

Degree Studied: MSc in Environmental Entrepreneurship

Year of graduation: 2014

 

Why did you choose to work with the Sustainability Office? 

As part of the MSc module “CL929- Client-Based Environmental Entrepreneurship in Practice”, we were asked to find a client and; design, develop and lead a project with their collaboration. After some meetings to discuss potential projects of interest, the decision to finally work with the Sustainability Office was mainly triggered by the following:

  • The flexible and collaborative approach the team showed, by giving me the freedom to design the project and offering their help and commitment to carry it out. This was key to pursue real changes and successfully complete the project.
  • The possibility to have real hands-on experience on a real energy efficiency project. It was a big opportunity to learn and develop the skills within an area of great interest for my future professional career.
  • The impact of the outcomes the project could achieve, due to the importance and magnitude of the institution where it was going to be implemented.I felt it was going to be very challenging but finally very rewarding, putting my two cents to the excellent work the Sustainability Office was already doing to reduce University of Strathclyde's ecological footprint. 

Title of project

Strathclyde Energy - Empowering a More Sustainable Future

Project summary

The project intended to determine the actual situation regarding students’ energy saving awareness and accommodation buildings’ energy performance; to finally propose interventions that would help to improve its future energy performance.

To achieve the general objective, three aims were defined and categorised as bronze, silver and gold according to the initial perceived degree of success chances and risk of failure. The three aims were planned as individually achievable, but designed to be a built up one from another, to finally reach the general objective of helping improving students' attitude towards energy savings in the future, and support the efforts of Halls of Residences’ management staff to encourage responsible use of energy.

Bronze Aim: Evaluate students’ energy efficiency awareness and their perception of Strathclyde’s and its halls of residences’ energy performance.

Silver Aim: Provide a set of potential interventions to improve energy performance in Thomas Campbell Court and James Blyth Court halls of residences.

Gold Aim: Obtain the commitment from Halls of residences’ and Estates Services’ decision-makers to implement the proposed interventions and to engage with future energy efficiency initiatives.

Key outcomes

The questionnaire answered by students living in the Halls of Residences gave a good insight on how students perceive heating and lighting systems in their accommodation. Students’ comments helped to understand why and how the energy was used in the Halls.  The results showed that students generally care about energy saving but have more problems when managing heating systems than they have with lighting.

From data collected by the automatic monitoring and targeting system installed in the residences, the energy performance of James Blyth Court and Thomas Campbell Court was analysed and compared. A site survey in James Blyth Court was also carried out. These provided enough information to target heating efficiency and lighting performance as the most urgent areas to improve within the University Halls of Residence buildings. From the findings of questionnaire responses, site visit and data analysis; recommendations were tailored to improve future energy efficiency.

As it was commented by the students in their responses, and corroborated by the data analysis, there is a lot of energy being lost due to windows being open to cool the rooms, while heating is on. This is usually because students do not know how to control the heaters, or are not aware of energy conservation attitudes and their importance to contribute to reduce global energy demand.

In response to students’ needs and comments, a template with energy efficiency tips and bespoke instructions on how to control the specific heaters in James Blyth Court and Thomas Campbell court was designed, to be placed near each heater in the students’ rooms. Subsequently, the same will be done for the different heaters and heating systems in the rest of Strathclyde’s Halls of Residences. 

Any ideas for future projects or general recommendations?

Support would be needed to further assess energy performance in University Halls of residences, especially to study why Thomas Campbell Court energy performance is 40% less efficient than James Blyth Court.

There was a high percentage of students (82.3%) that, through the survey, showed their interest on a city-wide cycle hire scheme. Further research on the possibility of setting stations for a cycle hire scheme in the University is needed, to determine the University community interest, and if finally this is the case, the size and number of hire stations the campus would need.

2015 - Project: A vegetation survey study
"I am interested in biodiversity especially botanical studies to do enhancing the biodiversity of this campus"  

Name: Phatchani  Srikhumsuk

Degree Studied: MSc. Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Year of graduation: 2015

 

Why did you choose to work with the Sustainability Office? 

I am interested in biodiversity especially botanical studies to do enhancing the biodiversity of this campus.

Project title 

Towards the Enhancement of Strathclyde University Green Spaces – A vegetation survey study

Project summary 

This project qualitatively determined the distribution and biodiversity of vegetation in two gardens at University of Strathclyde. The survey describes the scientific name of each species found, its physiology and its benefits. As a result, I found plants phylogenetically belonging to 21 families, 30 genera and 36 species. 

Key outcomes

There are plants representing 21 families, 30 genera and 36 species, which are divided into endemic species and exotic species, it could be categorised as tree, shrub, climbing and herbaceous plants. 

Any ideas for future projects or general recommendations? 

The further research it would be used for management of plant resources in term of sustainability to attract different species enhancing the biodiversity of the University of Strathclyde.