Birmingham Institute of Forest Research - CO2 Research Facility

This award-winning pioneering £10.4m project to design, supply and install a CO2 research facility in remote historic woodland is the first of its kind in the UK.

The team from our Birmingham office provided quantity surveying services, and worked with a single specialist contractor to deliver a bespoke, yet competitively priced solution to design and build a ‘Free Air Carbon-dioxide Enrichment’ (FACE) field facility, that will test the resilience of mature forest in a high carbon future.

The scheme comprised of: six FACE ring structures with CO2, data and power distribution from the main site compound which houses the CO2 storage tanks and the University of Birmingham staff’s welfare facilities - the structures have been constructed in such a way that the woodland inside the ring is immersed in elevated CO2 whilst the rest of the woodland remains largely unaffected; a new field compound comprising a series of linked architectural modular welfare buildings, CO2 storage/mechanical plant compound and associated parking area - this will allow scientists from the University to have a base for collecting biological samples from the FACE and control rings to assess the impacts of elevated CO2 levels on the ecosystem in the woodland; all new incoming utilities to enable the running and distribution of all services to the research project; upgrading the existing infrastructure to facilitate the research facility, including upgrading forest roads, construction of heavy duty roads for CO2 deliveries and new incoming site services. 

Challenges of the project included developing a realistic budget for a project and design that had no contemporary baseline or benchmark to compare against; and finding a suitable procurement and tendering route that complied with the University’s protocols and recognised the complex nature of the project.

Our solutions to these challenges ensured that the project was completed  on time and within budget.

This successful project has generated interest from across the globe due to the importance the empirical findings could have on setting the political agenda for climate change. It has also scooped a number of awards including Project of the Year and Infrastructure Category winner at the 2017 West Midlands RICS Awards, the Sustainability Award at the 2017 West Midlands Insider’s Property Awards and at the 2017 Education Estates Awards, the project, along with our client the University of Birmingham won Client of the Year.

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