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Press Release

Queen Margaret University wins top sustainability award

Edinburgh 24th June 2009; Queen Margaret University has picked up a top award for sustainability at a gala event in London last night (23 June 2009), and was highly commended in a second award category for sustainable construction.

Vice Principal Rosalyn Marshall, Estates Director Steve Scott and Information Services Director Fraser Muir picked up the prestigious Green Gown award for ICT which recognises the growing environmental importance of computer technology within further and higher education. QMU’s new campus was the largest scale project shortlisted in the sustainable construction category with the highest BREEAM score, the globally recognised measure of environmental impact of buildings.

Now in their fifth year, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK to become more sustainable. The Awards are administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) the sector champion for environment and sustainability and governed by a cross agency steering group of sector support agencies.

In 2007 Queen Margaret University relocated from a scattered estate across Edinburgh into a new campus at Craighall which has become a national showcase for the benefits of sustainable development in HE. Innovative ICT, centred on a ‘thin client’ infrastructure, has been fundamental in delivering the exemplar energy and environmental performance ratings of the new campus.

With thin client, users do not have hard drives at their desks. Instead, processing is performed on central servers and users have a low-power terminal. This technology minimises heat generation, reducing the need for ventilation. Consequently, the building design requires minimal air conditioning and mechanical ventilation.

Commenting on the award Vice Principal Rosalyn Marshall said;

“We are delighted to have won such a prestigious award for sustainability. Thin client technology has helped us to deliver an open campus and it is also driving a major change in the way higher education is delivered. As well as having an impressively low impact on the environment it means staff and students can log on anywhere, on or off campus, at any terminal, and access a full desktop with all personalized settings, files, software and electronic resources. This has created major change in work practices across the university and has supported distance learning.”

QMU is on target to be one of the lowest energy and lowest carbon campuses in the UK.

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For further information contact Maggie Wright on 0131 226 3622 or 07801 710360

Editor’s notes

QMU and Sustainability

Between 1 July 2007 and 12 June 2008 Queen Margaret University (QMU) completed and relocated to a new multi-million pound campus development at Craighall, Musselburgh, creating the first new campus university in Scotland for a generation and setting a new benchmark in sustainable design. 

These were the key drivers behind the campus masterplan, and the realisation of its buildings and spaces, culminating in the campus receiving a BREEAM rating of “excellent”.  BREEAM is a globally respected system for assessing the environmental impact of buildings.  At the time of its assessment, Craighall campus was the highest scoring university project in the UK.  Implicated in this achievement is an exemplar of efficient space utilisation, energy consumption, building maintenance and ‘green’ transport planning. 

QMU identified a number of major achievements that would form a substantial part of an environmentally sustainable campus;

Carbon Footprint (biomass) The campus' carbon emission is on target to be the lowest of any HE institution in the UK through the use of a biomass heating system.  A woodchip boiler generates heat for distribution around the campus, with a projected 75% reduction in carbon dioxide emission compared with traditional gas fired heating. 

Energy efficiency is maximised through intelligent design that incorporates air tightness, and maximises daylight and natural ventilation through the use of energy efficient technology.  QMU’s targets for air tightness and u-values were a 25% and a 5% improvement respectively over minimum Building Regulation requirements. 

Thin client computer technology: To minimise heat generation, and therefore reduce the need for ventilation, PC users on campus do not have hard disk drives at their desks.  Instead, ‘thin client’ technology is used whereby software and hardware are stored at central servers.  As result the building design has minimal air conditioning and mechanical ventilation installed and adopts natural ventilation in the majority of its accommodation.

Sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS): a SUDS pond captures rainwater draining off roofs and paved areas, holding it back on site rather than contributing to downstream flooding.  The pond is an attractive feature of the campus, and will provide an excellent habitat for wildlife.

Green transport has been adopted to encourage students, staff and visitors to make use of sustainable forms of transport and is being monitored by the Scottish Executive Transport division as an exemplar of a major GTP and of public transport integration.

Solar Power The UK’s largest solar installation links Newcraighall rail station and QMU making the pathway more suitable for walkers and cyclists and encouraging use of sustainable transport.

Biodiversity is being encouraged through the creation of wetland, woodland, hedgerow and meadow habitats, and the provision of roosting boxes for indigenous wildlife. Provision has been made to continue to add ecological value as the site develops.


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