Eden Campus – University of St Andrews
The year is 2035: it is almost a decade since the University of St Andrews became carbon neutral in its energy consumption. Since that milestone, the University has been unrelenting in its pursuit of Government net zero carbon targets. An Environmental Sustainability Board was established during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Its purpose to drive changes in culture and deliver the pioneering methods behind the University’s vision to become the UK’s first net zero carbon institution.
Much of the pioneering work was undertaken at Eden Campus. Support from the Tay Cities Deal gave a significant boost to the University’s efforts to create a thriving, innovative and inclusive business community. At the time, the World was grappling with the human and economic impact of Covid-19 and universities played a significant role in not only researching the coronavirus and creating vaccines but also in the process of economic recovery. While the virus had temporarily reduced carbon emissions and slowed down global warming the clock was still ticking.
Eden Campus itself, has long been a net zero carbon campus. A combination of biomass heat, solar PV, implementing R&D from the Genesis Centre (that celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2032), inward investment in smart technologies, EV utilisation, building management and design and changed working patterns demonstrated what could be achieved on a small scale and applied more widely.
The Campus has been a hub for demonstrating not only scientific and technical achievements but also the entrepreneurial and commercial applications. Vitamins are produced from captured CO2, smart cell chips are being used as a diagnostic tool to predict system degradation in batteries, a hydrogen refuelling station has been built and a further 30 inventions have moved from lab bench to commercialisation. In addition, the Campus supplies heat and power to the local community as well as the University and businesses in and around St Andrews.
Over 600 people work at Eden Campus, many from nearby villages and towns. Each year, an established apprenticeship scheme provides technical and engineering trainees to Campus businesses. There is a thriving atmosphere in Guardbridge with over 400 new families settling in the village. The primary school has more than trebled in size to meet new demand. A medical and community centre was opened in 2028 providing services to the community and the Campus. By 2030, the famous old boiler house had been restored. The top floor restaurant, with panoramic views of the Estuary, showcases local produce and doubles as a vocational training centre for people starting careers in the catering and hospitality sector. It is a stepping-stone to jobs in local hotels and restaurants that are active supporters. The ground floor houses an artisan bakery and several workshops. Early inward investors in the Eden Campus project have established UK offices in the building, there is a suite of conference facilities that doubles as a weekend cinema venue.
In St Andrews, the student population has grown by more than 10% to a little over 10,000, meanwhile a Christmas tree planted in 2016 now stands at 25 feet tall and, unusually, the lights remain in place throughout the year so that visitors can illuminate the tree by riding static bicycles. This is one of 20 green initiatives around the Campus open to the visiting public as part of an interactive educational walking tour.
In 2030, the Campus Corporate Social Fund celebrated raising £500,000 for employment and training schemes. Further afield, the University is working to build a third campus in Canada after the successful opening of Eden Campus Two in SE Asia.
Such a vision is the aspiration which the University has set out in embarking on the ambitious developments at Eden Campus. It is achievable within the timescales proposed, with careful planning, a dedicated Programme Board providing leadership to a skilful delivery team and sheer hard work. The University is building an extensive range of resources, of which the contribution from Tay Cities Deal funding will be essential to build the critical mass for an exciting new development.
What are we trying to do?
We are creating a platform for innovative economic activity in North East Fife with a focus on de- carbonising society. We will be seeking to work with business, industry, government, and investors to create a place where green energy, product development and innovation, academia, and entrepreneurship come powerfully together. This will accelerate the process of transfer of knowledge from the lab to the real world.
As a whole, Eden Campus is a 32.5-acre industrial site (formally a famous paper mill that closed in 2008 with the loss of 350 local jobs), with capacity to co-locate industry alongside academic expertise from across Scotland, thereby utilising knowledge, skills and research to exploit emerging commercial opportunities. Many of the intended enabling projects have been delivered in the pre- Heads of Terms phase, other infrastructure work was initiated in Year 1 of Tay Cities Deal against an agreed budget and Year 2 projects have been procured and are “shovel-ready”.