A flagship new student residence at the University of St Andrews, the most environmentally friendly in the country, is to be opened officially by the Chancellor Gordon Brown today (Friday 23rd February 2007).
The £34.7m David Russell Apartments is the largest construction project undertaken by the University and is one of the most significant and ambitious residential developments ever undertaken by a UK university. Following a three-year phased redevelopment, the innovative new accommodation will be formally opened by Mr Brown.
Described as ‘a benchmark for new student accommodation in the UK’, the new residence was developed especially to fit the needs of the 21st century environmentally conscious student. Situated outside the town centre, DRA provides energy-efficient accommodation for 920 students and outwith term-time serves as a popular three-star alternative for tourists and golfers. In 2006, DRA was the first university residence in the country to be awarded the Green Tourism Business Scheme’s Gold Award.
During the tour, Mr Brown will visit one of the student apartments and will meet with the third and second year students who live there. Following a tour of the facilities and official plaque unveiling, Mr Brown will visit the DRA bistro and meet students and University representatives, including leading researchers in fuel cell technology and sustainable accounting.
University Principal and Vice- Chancellor, Dr Brian Lang, said: “We are very pleased to have Gordon Brown here to open David Russell Apartments. The development represents the culmination of three years hard work and a successful partnership between the University and a number of parties. We believe we have created in David Russell Apartments a benchmark for new student accommodation in the UK. The development not only outlines the University’s commitment to sustainability but is also an investment in our students, to provide them with the very best environment in which to live and learn.”
The development forms a physical centrepiece to the University’s commitment to sustainability across its operational and educational activity. With environmental and conservation issues being key to both the design process and the current management of the buildings, the development consists of a series of independent buildings clustered around central facilities overlooking a man-made lake, which forms part of the sustainable urban drainage scheme.
Green features include a rainwater recovery system, a comprehensive recycling programme, high standards of thermal insulation, sophisticated building management controls and under floor heating. The entire development is enhanced by natural materials and light, and surrounded by high-quality landscaping, while the existing tree belt was preserved as much as possible.
Each four-storey accommodation block consists of self-contained apartments which boast five en- suite double bedrooms and well- equipped kitchen/sitting rooms. Forming a centrepiece to the development is a central facilities building which services students’ needs, providing its own bistro, bar, laundrette and shop. Uniquely, the building is topped by a grass roof, which acts as a heat insulator during the winter and a natural cooler during the summer months.
The development, which initially involved the demolition of the existing 1960’s buildings (known as David Russell Hall), was carried out by Morrison Construction. Providing an extra 448 beds to the University’s students, new accommodation was made available after the completion of each phase (the first phase of flats were opened to students arriving for September 2003). The new residences ensure that students have access to modern, high quality and well- equipped accommodation, while the development offered the additional opportunity to include adapted accommodation for students with special needs.
David Downie, Managing Director of Morrison Construction Scotland said, “It is entirely appropriate that Morrison Construction and the University of St Andrews, who share a reputation for quality and excellence and who are both widely- acknowledged as leaders in their fields of expertise, worked in partnership to delivery this flagship development.
“Acutely aware of our environmental responsibilities we were keen to see that the environmental element of the project went beyond simply complying with relevant legislation to embrace good practice.”
ADDITIONAL NOTES: In a bid to help achieve the University’s long-term aim of reducing car use among students, parking facilities are complemented by improved cycle storage and the creation of a cycle path.
A rainwater recovery system has been incorporated into the design to reduce water consumption by using stored rain water to supply the toilet cisterns. Much of the concrete from the demolition was reused as material for the preparation of the ground for the foundations, and local suppliers were used where possible.
Building contractors Morrison Construction were awarded the prestigious national ‘Green Apple’ award for work carried out at DRA. The Green Organisation award – in the environmental best practice in Scotland category – recognised the use of sustainable materials and systems within the design and construction of the development.
In November 2006 the University of St Andrews was named as the UK’s top university for Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development by the Times Higher Education Supplement in recognition of the University’s drive to become a leader in sustainable development by integrating policies and activities across its operational and educational activity.
St Andrews is one of a handful of UK Universities to offer an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in Sustainable Development.
David Russell Apartments are named in the memory of Sir David Russell, former Managing Director of Tullis Russell the Fife paper- making firm, and his son Major David Russell, a distinguished soldier and businessman. Both had long and important associations with the University of St Andrews.
PICS FROM THE STUDENT FLAT WILL BE POOLED AND AVAILABLE TO ALL BY ALAN RICHARDSON. THE STUDENTS TO BE MET BY GORDON BROWN ARE: Cody Desouza, Savindri Pramodya Talgodapitiya, Jennifer Ann Smith, Louise Masterton and Lisa Jackson.
NOTE TO PICTURE EDITORS:
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Ref: DRA opening 190207.doc
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