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University of Birmingham sweeps board at RICS Awards

Institute scores quartet of wins at annual awards including project of the year for its research into the effects of CO2 on woodland

Birmingham Institute of Forest Research near Stafford
Birmingham Institute of Forest Research has been crowned RICS 2017 West Midlands project of the year

A pioneering research project looking into the effects of carbon on the planet has been crowned the RICS West Midlands project of the year - one of three University of Birmingham schemes to win awards.

The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research is housed in remote historic woodland near Stafford with aim of being at the forefront of research into CO2.

It is said to be the only one of its kind in the UK and will simulate the atmospheric conditions expected in 2070.

Investigating the effects of climate change on existing woodlands, the facility comprises a series of cylindrical ring structures, reaching just above the tree canopy, with supporting pipes delivering CO2 in such a way that the woodland inside the ring is immersed in CO2.

The University of Birmingham project will test the resilience of a mature forest in a high-carbon future.

Having won the infrastructure prize, it was chosen from all eight category winners to be crowned overall West Midlands project of the year.

Related: Click through to read the full RICS 2017 shortlist

Judging panel chairman Gurdip Chamba said: "This project only has a small physical footprint but has national and global significance.

"When 60 per cent of the world's carbon comes from construction, we need to not only look to reduce our footprint but understand the effects increased carbon will have on the planet.

iCentrum won the regeneration category
iCentrum won the regeneration category

"This intricately planned, sensitively executed research scheme will assess the impact of CO2 on our forests for years to come.

"Projects that can nudge political thought on such important subjects are few and far between and the empirical evidence this could provide could be as significant as the CFC research that looked to repair the ozone in Antarctic."

The university also scored success with its new Chamberlain halls of residence on its main campus and £50 million school of dentistry on the former BBC Pebble Mill site in Edgbaston.

They won the residential and design through innovation categories respectively.

Also triumphant at last night's ceremony was the first phase of the long-running restoration of The Grand, in Colmore Row, to create new offices and ground floor retail units.

The Grand won the commercial award
The Grand won the commercial award

Named top commercial project, it has welcomed cocktail bar The Alchemist and retailer Cycle Republic among its new tenants.

iCentrum, the tech building on Innovation Birmingham Campus which opened last year to to support start-up companies, scooped the regeneration prize.

The other winners were:

Building Conservation

Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon

Community Benefit

Remembrance Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum

Tourism & Leisure

Remembrance Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum

The annual event has been run by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for ten years and celebrates the best built environment projects from the land, property and construction sectors.

Winners from the regional ceremonies now go forward to national awards in London in November.

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