Energy and water

Reducing energy and water is key to becoming a net zero university. Before 2035, we plan to upgrade our 160 teaching and residential buildings to become highly energy and water efficient.

Our focus is to power down the University estate by 60% by reducing our energy consumption and power up the remaining 40% with clean energy through renewable technologies.

Energy and water approach

Together with a Fife-wide response, we are getting climate ready and climate friendly.

Climate ready

We are reducing the energy our University buildings need to operate, and adapting to climate change. 

Scotland is experiencing warmer and drier summers, and wetter and more stormy winters. Being 'climate ready' means that our University estate can cope with this changing climate. It also means that we adapt to climate change by planning around clean energy supply. 

At the University, we are becoming climate ready by:

  • locating new buildings outside of floodplains
  • maintaining roof and windows to prevent leaks and damp from increased rain
  • connecting buildings to district heating networks and sharing heat across our estate
  • creating energy storage for days and seasons to align our energy consumption with renewable energy.

Climate friendly

We are increasing our clean energy supplies by investing in Eden Campus, our biomass district heating network, and launching renewable energy projects in solar and wind.

We aim to make all University buildings as energy efficient as possible. We will renovate our buildings to require less energy and install technology to maximise the use of that energy. Our climate-friendly actions at the University are:

  • Upgrading to LED lighting, better insulation and laboratory equipment. The University consumes 30% less energy than 10 years ago, despite a 10% increase in size.
  • Installing SMART technology. We currently have SMART technology in 30 buildings that controls energy flow and handles energy demand. Our continuous investment in technology saves us over 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
  • Delivering a district heating network in town. This is as part of a £4.5 million investment project that will save 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions every year

Climate just

Being 'climate just' means that we share and give access to information helping others to become climate friendly. We communicate with Fife council and local partners regularly. By doing this, we widen the benefits of the work we undertake. 

Examples of 'climate just' actions at the University are:

  • making our equipment flexible to ease peak loads at the local energy grid
  • delivering biodiversity projects and planting trees on University land to reduce flood risks to others.

Energy and water projects

At the University of St Andrews, we work with both technology and people to become energy and water efficient. Here are examples of our most ambitious projects.

Eden Campus

Eden Campus is home to our local biomass plant. It is located three miles north-west of St Andrews and has two purposes: 

  • To be a hub where the University and private companies conduct innovative energy research. These include new battery technologies, hydrogen-based energy systems and conversion of CO2 into fuels.
  • To be a living lab where low-carbon technology is demonstrated in real life. Eden Campus is taking a national lead on net zero living: it shows the best available technologies in an integrated energy system and won the Sustainable Development Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards in 2016. 

Since opening in 2018, Eden Campus has reduced 20% of the University’s carbon footprint through solar energy and biomass heat. Eden Campus currently heats 400 student rooms and has the capacity of heating an additional 6,000 homes for local residences. That equals a third of St Andrews student and local residences.

Hall Sustainability Representative

Becoming a Hall Sustainability Representative is one of the ways our students are promoting energy-efficient behaviour. Our ambitious student representatives promote environmentally friendly choices in halls of residences through events, campaigns, and information. A University hall can win up to £1,800 by:

  • becoming more energy efficient
  • supporting a circular economy
  • engaging in other sustainable projects.

Contact your student hall committee if you want to become a Sustainability Representative.

Contact if you have questions about this position and access to support.           

Kenly Wind Farm

We have planning permission to build a wind farm nine miles south-east of St Andrews. If the new Kenly Wind Farm was built, the University's carbon footprint would decrease by 50%, and all buildings would be powered by green energy. We received approval in 2021 and we are waiting for an agreement from the Ministry of Defence to build the six wind turbines.

For more information, please contact the Environment Team at

Water and flood management

Wetter winters and flooding are two consequences of climate change. The University works with drainage systems to manage and adapt to the increased amounts of water. Our ponds at David Russell Apartments (DRA) and Fife Park are one example of this. The two ponds help us to delay water in a controlled way. This prevents flooding of the paths and grassed areas by DRA and Fife Park.  

A green future depends on us increasing energy efficiency and using clean energy where possible. However, some of our carbon emissions are unavoidable despite these efforts. To create a balance between what we are letting and taking out, the University reviews options of managing offsets.

Looking forward

Offsetting our unavoidable emissions is essential to become a net zero University. Our vision is to offset locally with engagement from staff and students. In the near future, we aim to offset unavoidable emissions by:

  • planting trees
  • restoring peatlands and saltmarshes 
  • managing land
  • researching carbon capture technology and storage.