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The Museum of the University of St Andrews has recently attained a gold stardard in sustainability from the Green Business Tourism Scheme.

Logo showing gold grading in the Green Tourism Business SchemeMUSA is one of the University’s greenest buildings. Although the museum is housed in a nineteenth century building, which was originally a coach-house connected to the large University house next door, it was completely renovated in 2007 to provide a suitable home for the University’s internationally important historical collections. The University felt it was very important to ensure that this ‘new’ building was as sustainable as possible – both to demonstrate its commitment to all types of sustainable development, and also to reduce energy costs over the coming years.

How MUSA is using renewable energy

The sun’s energy is captured by the 2.5kW solar (photovoltaic) panels which have been installed on the pitched roof of Gallery 3 of the museum. These panels can be easily viewed from the museum’s Roof Terrace – which also offers stunning views out over St Andrews Bay. The panels are able to generate electricity which is used to provide power for the lights and the lift. This means that the lift is solar powered! An energy meter displays the electricity being generated at the moment in kilowatt hours as well as the total electricity generated and the amount of carbon dioxide that has been saved since the panels were installed. Surplus electricity is exported to the national grid.

A Ground Source Heat Pump extracts heat from the rock beneath the car park in three boreholes, each of which is 67m deep. The 14 kilowatts of heat generated is then used in underfloor pipes to heat the galleries and will save over 9 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is equivalent to 900,000 party balloons! The underfloor heating system also suits the nature of the building very well – there are no ‘hot spots’ caused by radiators throughout the galleries which would cause potential harm to artworks hanging above, meaning we can hang artworks anywhere we like on the gallery walls.

Low energy light sources

All of the lights contained within the display cases contain low energy LED bulbs, which are economical as well as allowing less heat build-up within the cases, which would be dangerous for the objects displayed within them. When the museum first opened in 2008, the technology did not exist for low energy light sources to be available as the main spotlighting sources in the galleries. However we are now at the stage of being able to swap all of these higher energy bulbs for low energy sources, while being able to achieve the same flexibility of lighting levels throughout the galleries.

The sustainable and energy saving initiatives installed within MUSA were supported by the Scottish Community and Householder Renewables Initiative, funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the Energy Savings Trust. Funding was also provided by Phase 2 of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. The University has achieved the Carbon Trust Standard and is committed to the principles of sustainable development

The University has adopted a number of policies and strategies to further its work on implementing sustainable development.